A number of British game developers are outraged at being handed what they’re describing as “mock-up Canadian Passports” at a recent UK trade event.
They also have expressed alarm that – separately – a Canadian business is booking a ‘VIP Reception’ networking event at this year’s Develop Conference in Brighton.
One source revealed dismay at the speed in which some companies are encouraging British developers to look beyond their own country.
“Where's the British support for our industry,” the source asked.
“The Canadians are circling like vultures since the news broke that we aren't getting any tax breaks.”
In regards to the ‘passport mock-up’, the item in question was a pamphlet distributed by leading multinational business group Quickstart Global. The pamphlet encouraged British studios to remain more competitive by outsourcing to North American firms.
The brochure was handed out to attendees of GameHorizon, a part-RDA-funded game industry event looking to aid British developers.
“A lot of us were very pissed off at finding mock-up Canadian Passports placed on our seats,” said one attendee, who suggested that the pamphlet included “all of the benefits of relocating your British business to Canada - all cheekily packaged as a Canadian passport”.
The source added: “Myself and the other delegates were furious but not knowing the organisers didn’t know who to complain to”.
Quickstart Global CEO Neal Gandhi told Develop the outrage was due to a misunderstanding, and called for a wider debate on being realistic in protecting British business.
“Of course I don’t want to see Canadian companies succeeding at the expense of UK firms,” he explained.
“Our view is that a company that is founded in the UK and has a huge chunk of its work done out of Britain can also leverage global resources. This is with a view to having towards having the best business possible. With a view to survival.
“We work with Monumental, with Sumo digital, and what we’ve done is help those groups grow significantly and help those groups get better publishing deals because they are more cost-effective.
“Studios are free to stick their heads in the sand and say, okay, we are going to source exclusively from the UK and price ourselves out of the business.”
Develop asked why, then, the ad featured a Canadian passport on the front cover.
“Yes, it is a Canadian passport to success,” said Gandhi. “This is aimed at UK studios, we want them to grow and survive and tap into the talent abroad.”
“Publishers have a choice of who they contract with and typically don’t care if the studio they work with is in the UK, France, Canada, Japan or the US. They’ll go with whoever gives them a better deal and the best quality.”
Quickstart Global is now in process of building a hub of development talent in North America, which UK studios can use at a cheaper rate than British studios.
“What this scheme offers is up to 30 per cent cash rebates on the salaries of people employed on their behalf, paid quarterly in arrears,” he said.
“In light of the current difficulties with respect to bank and other financing routes, this rebate paid in cold hard cash can mean the difference between survival and failure.
“Or to put it another way, the difference between some jobs being retained in the UK or not.”