A new survey by the United Kingdom's TIGA trade group finds the country's game industry employing 9 percent fewer people than it did in 2008, even as studio start-ups outpace closures in the last two years.
There were 9,010 employed by UK game studios as of October, down from 9,900 employees in the trade group's 2008 industry census.
The shape of country's game industry has changed quite a bit in that time, with 131 game companies closing and 145 starting up in the past two years, according to the survey. The changes left the UK game industry with 278 total companies, up from 264 in 2008.
The overwhelming majority of those new companies -- over 80 percent -- are focused on delivering digitally distributed games rather than boxed retail products, according to TIGA.
“In recent years, a range of new platforms and business models have given games companies more flexibility," TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said in a statement. "Games studios in this space often have a higher potential to be stable and profitable, better able to raise finance, create original new games, retain copyright and attain greater financial stability.”
The reduction in the UK game industry's work force is especially steep compared to other countries that have government-subsidized tax breaks for game developers. A 2009 TIGA survey found 23 percent of UK game development houses had lost staff to foreign countries, with 72 percent of those sending staffers to Canada.
“TIGA will also continue to lobby the Government to create a more favourable environment for the games industry," Wilson said. "This means the introduction of Games Tax Relief, enhanced R&D tax credits, action on skills and the maintenance of a flexible migration policy so that the best and brightest people can work in the UK games industry.”