For many people, gaming is just a hobby. Several billion people around the world enjoy this interactive form of entertainment, a figure that keeps rising thanks to smartphones, free-to-play games, and VR headsets. Online casinos have also helped to grow the popularity of gaming with thousands of different video slots and classic table games offered by most sites. A range of bonuses that are offered to new customers by brands like Virgin Games play a role too as they help to let beginners try these games for less.
With that in mind, the chances are, you have almost certainly played at least one game in the last year. But have you ever thought about stepping into the other side and becoming someone who works in the teams designing, developing, and distributing these digital delights?
Here in the UK, there are hundreds of companies involved in the gaming industry from small privately-owned studios to giant multinational corporations that publish many of the biggest titles in the world. But which one is the best to work for? Let’s take a look.
Criterion is a UK-based company that’s based in Guildford, Surrey. It was founded back in 1996 by David Lau-Kee as a subsidiary of Canon, and it’s changed hands several times since. It’s now owned by Electronic Arts and has had the responsibility for several big titles including several Need for Speed games, the Burnout franchise, Battlefield, and Star Wars Battlefront.
Being based in Guildford, Criterion is a great place to work. Being just a couple of dozen miles outside of London, you get the benefits of being near to the capital, but also the perks that come with being partially outside its hustle and bustle.
After EA acquired Codemasters, Criterion now also has an office in Runcorn, Cheshire. This is a great option for those based in the north that want easy access to Liverpool, Manchester, and Chester combined with the much lower cost of living in this part of the country.
At 90 employees, Criterion is big but not too big, giving you the chance to be noticed and progress without the pressure and exposure that can sometimes come from working in a smaller business.
The founders left a few years ago, which can always be a turbulent time for a business and its employees, but the consensus seems to be that this has been a step forward. It’s allowed it to become one of the highest-scoring gaming companies in the Best Places To Work awards and reportedly seeks to avoid the dreaded “crunch” that comes in the run-up to a release deadline.
Playground Games is a comparatively newer company, having been founded in 2010 by Favin Raeburn, Trevor Williams, and Ralph Fulton. Its headquarters are located in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire giving anyone that works and lives in that area quick access to much of England thanks to its integrated position in the national motorway network. Being further away from London also helps in making the cost of living more affordable.
The company is best known for its work in developing Forza Horizon with Microsoft’s Turn 10 Studios. Following on from the success of this partnership, Xbox Game Studios bought the company in 2018 for an undisclosed sum.
Playground Games has mostly been focused on its Forza Horizon releases, but it’s also reportedly working on a reboot of the Fable series.
Employees working there have access to a range of benefits, including profit sharing, flexible working, private health care, and more.
These were some of the reasons that the company scores highly in the Best Places To Work survey, with staff also pointing to what the former CEO described as “little perks”, such as free breakfasts, a drinks fridge, table tennis, and a regular schedule of social events.
So with some high-profile projects and plenty of perks, Playground Games could be a great place to work if you’re interested in video game development.