[This first of a new series of opinion pieces from Games Brief writer Nicholas Lovell looks at how the issue of proper game crediting could lead to the emergence of unions in the games industry.] Last week, Michael Pachter, an investment analyst at Wedbush Securities caused a stir amongst game developers the world over. His crime? To declare that "unpaid crunch deserves no sympathy". I understand where Pachter is coming from: I used to be an investment banker and equity research analyst. From 1994-2003 (with a year out as CFO of a dot com startup) I analyzed media companies, advised them on raising capital and buying other businesses and I helped them understand how the internet was going to change their world. Bankers have a peculiar perspective on the world. It is a hyper-aggressive, well-paid industry filled with people who are extremely capable at fighting their own corner on remuneration. When looking at other industries (like games), they ask questions like these:
- Are people clamoring to join the industry? Answer: yes. Just look at the number of games design, coding, art and general courses popping up at universities around the world.
- Are people in the industry well-paid? Answer: yes. Develop Magazine undertook a games industry salary survey, covering 400 games professionals globally and found that the median salary in the games industry was £31,509 ($52,422*). The mean (which is skewed due to a handful of senior figures who participated) was nearer £40,000 ($65,000).
- Is the industry being damaged by a lack of talent? Answer: from a commercial perspective, it doesn't look like it. The threats are coming from transition to digital, difficulties at retail, the challenges of picking winners in a creative industry and so on, not from a lack of talented people wanting to work in it.