FURTHER EVIDENCE that the UK games industry is preparing for seismic change from this autumn onwards has come with the playing out of a noisy game of musical chairs amongst senior execs – and the music hasn’t stopped yet.
With the looming arrival of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PSP machines, plus PlayStation 3 and new high profile games-on-demand services in 2006, many companies have realised that they must be correctly geared in terms of personnel.
Just this week, former Activision boss Scott Dodkins joined ‘the new Eidos’ as its European managing director, Jon Rosenblatt arrived at Ubisoft after quitting EA to become UK marketing director and Alan Welsman quit his role as head of entertainment at Orange.
Former THQ sales director Paul Oughton has turned up at Andromeda Logistics, Gamer.tv boss Chris Noone has departed and Phil Harrison has been given a new global role as chief executive producer of Sony Computer Entertainment.
All this comes on the back of recent high profile moves such as Martin Spiess exiting Atari to head up Midway Europe, Rod Cousens joining Codemasters as CEO and former Capcom US man Bill Gardner heading up SCi in the US.
The retail giant GAME, meanwhile, has conducted a talent-hunting strategy worthy of Chelsea FC by snapping up highly-rated buyers from its rival chains – including Neil Martin (HMV), Mandip Bhachoo (Virgin), Alex Vines (E-UK) and Mark Cooper (Blockbuster).
“It is incredible how much movement is going on at the moment. We’re having to recruit new staff ourselves to cope with the work” said Kim Adcock, boss of games recruitment agency OPM.
“We’ve actually filled almost 200 industry positions since the beginning of June. “This follows two years of stagnation in the market. Until then it felt like no one was moving anywhere and we were seeing people leaving the industry because they had such limited options within games. But that’s all changed now.
“Companies which may have been holding back on filling positions are now hiring again in preparation for the next peak in the cycle,” Adcock continued.
“We’re also seeing new firms entering the market again, particularly in the mobile games development area. There’s definitely more optimism right across the board.”