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Games Industry & Recruitment - Review of 2017

Posted by: Stig Strand
13/12/17

2017 has been another busy & successful year at Amiqus

Here are a few of my thoughts on the highlights in the industry and recruitment over the past 12 months.

Next Gen came of age

The next gen console market is now fully mature and this means we’ve seen a real push in what the tech can achieve. The early life of new hardware is often characterized by tentative title releases, but in 2017 the developers have been in full swing with big budgets and ambitious titles, so we’ve had a glut of fantastic game experiences to immerse ourselves in. It’s been an exciting year. In a booming market, proven monetization models and solid analytics mean that publishers and developers have had the confidence to commit to bigger budgets. This may have meant less ‘surprise’ hit games than previous years, but we’ve enjoyed spin offs and sequels of some brilliantly innovative semi-recent titles like The Room for example.  

Game consoles – namely PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X - have lead the demand for higher resolution image technology. 4k TVs have now become mainstream in a growing number of consumer households during 2017, totaling almost 30% of all TV shipments during 2017. I’ve even treated myself to one which has been a real hit with the whole family, plus a great excuse to get a bit more gaming in & buy PSVR ;)

Switch changed how, when and where to play

Switch has also been a massive hit this year, shifting 10 million units since it’s launch back in March. For our Ask Amiqus feature in the last Develop magazine Liz asked the devs what they’d be playing over the holidays and it was playing on Switch that came up more than any title. Switch has provided a decent level of gaming on the move and becoming the developer’s choice is a ringing endorsement. For me, Switch is a great example of the role of the games industry not only to delight, inspire and entertain audiences but also to serve by offering game experiences that fit in to their players’ lifestyle. A current favourite of mine is Golf Story, a real blast from the past Zelda days.

More games as a service

Echoing the flexibility in demand of Switch, 2017 has seen a continued emphasis on games as a service with live game operations often driving commercial strategy. As we’ve clearly seen in 2017, not every game gets the balance right first time for their audience but the beauty of this model is that changes can be made very quickly. Recruitment-wise we’ve seen a big investment in the teams behind digital distribution and monetization at all levels and from varied skills areas such as marketing, analytics, commercial balancing and technical operations. 

Virtual Reality-check

People often ask me whether VR will live up to the hype of a few years back and I’ve always believed that VR and AR will have a significant place in games but, it’s an evolution process. I tend to agree with Brynley Gibson of Curve Digital who told me “2017 was going to be the year of AR and 2016 was going to be the year of VR. In 2016 when our lives didn't radically change people kicked back and called doom. But doom didn't happened, VR units continued to sell and interesting software appears on the market. So I think as an industry in 2017 we have been a bit calmer about AR, more realistic about its adoption levels and quality. It is better appreciated that it will take time for developers to learn how to create great software in these new mediums”. Patrick O'Luanaigh from nDreams agrees “the VR market is growing slower than expected, so developers and publishers need to be smart about development budgets and the kinds of projects they make”. Their new title Shooty Fruity looks tremendous fun. 

This sustainable, steady progress is now paying dividends and over ‘Black Friday’ weekend the PlayStation VR became the number 1 selling product on Amazon in the UK, so price point has had a clear impact on uptake. From a recruitment perspective we’ve noticed that devs have been asking for VR industry experience in 2017, whereas this time last year many were happy with a strong interest.

Tangible Growth

Bigger studios have also been a feature of 2017. Until recently there have only been a handful of devs over 200 staff, but growth due to expansion, acquisition or investment activity has lead to an increase in the number of bigger players. I’ve also noticed that this year there’s been a higher than typical amount of movement of strategic people at leadership level, particularly in these larger studios with several key industry figures taking on new career challenges. There have been some very bold moves lead from the top and it’s been an interesting time. Although larger companies mean in-house recruitment teams, at Amiqus we’ve always enjoyed working side by side with our clients on role where they need us most – it’s what we’re best at :)

All in all 2017 has been an exciting year for gamers, and recruitment has had some real hot spots in demand areas. Programmers with expertise in rendering are in higher demand than ever, followed closely by Technical Art where studios have had to cope with huge increases in pipelines to keep up with the graphical demands of the rich visual content. There’s no sign of this slowing down in 2018.

To 2018 and Beyond

There’s tonnes of stuff I’m excited about for 2018 and I’ve already got my flights booked for GDC and Gamescom. Tech-wise I can’t wait to get my hands on Playstation Playlink and I’ll also be keeping a close eye on more development around VR. Amiqus launched Putting the G into Gaming at the Future Games Summit recently and this will be a very high priority not just in 2018 but until the gender imbalance in games is a thing of the past. Of course we’ll be looking to retain our TIGA Best Recruiter Award too. Finally I’m super-stoked to announce that Amiqus will be sponsoring Special Effect’s Twin Town Challenge car event for the first time - it’s going to be an absolute blast while raising money for a fantastic cause. 

From Liz, the Amiqus team and myself I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

 
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