Mobile gaming firm plays down Brexit talent fears as London studio drives growth
Turkish mobile gaming firm Gram has London’s talent pool to thank for taking the business to the next level, but its founder has said he is not worried about Brexit deterring international recruits.
Gram Games, which secured backing from one of the early-stage investors in Deliveroo, opened its first international studio in London this year in its first major move since launching in Istanbul in 2012.
Kaan Karamanci, a founder and early-stage investor in the firm, said London offered the possibility of scaling up the business and diversifying its revenues.
“London was essential for us as we grew in size, because first we really needed to expand our capabilities in mobile gaming … the UK, and London, is one of the leaders in digital and creative industries and we wanted access to the global talent and the UK engineering talent available,” he told the Press Association.
Gram – which is best known for free-to-play titles including Tetris-inspired 1010!, Six!, and its Merged! series – secured around £900,000 from angel investors and venture capital funds including Deliveroo backer Hummingbird in the first few years of operations.
It has yet to release earnings in full – with plans to file its UK accounts in April – but Mr Karamanci said Gram has already seen revenues jump 30% since setting up shop in the UK capital in January, where it now employs 36 staff, including designers, engineers and artists.
But the founder is not concerned about the potential for Brexit to derail that growth, despite a number of business leaders raising fears that young, international talent are being turned by the prospects of a more closed-off Britain.
“Are we worried? We’re not worried,” he said.
“As a company we’re really focused on products, data and talent and we believe that London is a global attractor of great engineering talent and it’s obviously impossible to predict the future, but we are committed to London and the UK.”
However, a raft of creative industry bosses say there are risks if Britain tightens immigration after Brexit.
Earlier this autumn, the director of visual effects, game art and animation firm Escape Studios, Ian Palmer, said the “sheer scale” of the UK’s creative industry demands freedom to recruit “the best from the across the world”.
The Creative Industries Federation (CIF) is now pushing for the right of EU residents to remain in Britain after the UK leaves the bloc, and is calling for an immigration programme that would at least allow for free movement of workers for short-term projects, amid reports that talent is already jumping ship.
Commenting on the CIF’s report, Jon Rennie, a managing director at motion design firm Bait Studio, said: “A lot of work in the creative industries is based on ideas and skills, not on infrastructure like production lines and buildings. Projects will go with what’s convenient and if you can’t oblige with flexible borders then changes can happen very quickly.
“Talent is already leaving.”
Gram’s founder, though, said the mobile gaming firm is here to stay, having already committed £4 million to its UK operations – which, combined with its Istanbul studio, is helping the company ramp up its output.
“At this point I think we really hit our stride and we’re really becoming more productive,” Mr Karamanci said.
“If you look at what we’ve done, we had three games and just this year, in the past few months, we’ve added four games to that, so almost one launch every month and a half … and we expect to continue this pace.”