The Answer to the Talent Shortage

Much has been made of the difficulty in attracting and retaining strong people in the social gaming industry; I have repeatedly heard the northern California region described as in an employment bubble. Despite the increasingly depressing unemployment numbers throughout the US, social game companies in northern California are finding it close to impossible to get good employees (even at outrageous salaries) in the Bay Area.

Rather than swim in an increasingly crowded pool, these companies should be looking abroad to grow. Not only are there fantastic business opportunities, but there are also great places to locate development centers outside the US, especially in Europe, Latin America and Asia. While every Flash developer west of the Mississippi receives calls weekly from recruiters, the craziness has not hit other territories to the same degree. Even if it does, the supply is just so much greater there that they will continue to supply great candidates even as the market heats up. Right now, though, most game companies are usually just competing with web design outsourcers for talent.

I have worked with European and Russian developers for over fifteen years and I am comfortable saying they are as talented and creative as their western counterparts (yes, some are mediocre, but so are some US devs I know). The cliché that you need two or three to do what one US Flash developer can do is just not true. Most of them have stronger academic training and depending on the territory often have similar design sensibilities as US based programmers. Add in the lower cost and greater supply and this becomes a great option.

Already, we are seeing some US social companies acquire international companies to tap into this talent pool. That is definitely one option, though setting up a foreign studio is a lot less complicated than most would think and it diversifies your development risk. Regardless, international development is a great option to consider when growing a social game company.

Author: Lloyd Melnick

I am GM of Chumba at VGW, where I lead the Chumba Casino team. Previously, I was Director of StarsPlay, the social gaming vertical for the Stars Group. I was also Sr Dir at Zynga's social casino (including Hit It Rich! slots, Zynga Poker and our mobile games), where I led VIP CRM efforts and arranged licensing deals. I have been a central part of the senior management team (CCO, GM and CGO) at three exits (Merscom/Playdom, Playdom/Disney and Spooky Cool/Zynga) worth over $700 million.

2 thoughts on “The Answer to the Talent Shortage”

  1. Well put Lloyd, Bamtang will be very happy to quote on any Flash work for hire. We’ve got massive amounts of experience with top US brands, TV networks and movie properties, our games are played millions of times per week in the US and Europe. We started making social Flash games in 2007. We’re in the EST time zone, have direct flights daily from San Fran, LA, NYC, Miami and work at Peruvian costs. (30 to 50% of US costs). We’re not short of developers, we’re short of good and serious clients.
    We can work in English, deliver on time and with great quality. 9 years in business! We can deliver on Flash, Facebook, iOS, Android, Mac, PC and consoles that start with P.
    Especially good at avatars, platformers, fighters, puzzles, match-3, pinball, racing games, physics games, shooters and ball sports.


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