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In-house vs Agency Recruitment in the Gaming Industry: A Deep Dive

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The gaming development industry is a hotbed of creativity and talent. As a founder of a blossoming indie project or a manager of a mid-sized to large game studio, you may find yourself grappling with the task of recruitment. The challenge isn’t just filling empty seats – it’s about finding the ideal team member. The crucial decision then arises: should you establish an in-house recruitment team or ally with a dedicated agency? This article guides you through the strengths and weaknesses of in-house vs agency recruitment, equipping you with insights to make the best choice.


8Bit is a recruitment agency specializing in the gaming industry. However, our team comprises former in-house recruiters who have firsthand experience in both models. Therefore, we are equipped to provide an unbiased perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Our aim is to help you navigate potential challenges and make the most informed decision possible for your recruitment needs.

Understanding In-house Recruitment

In-house recruitment involves integrating recruiters directly into your studio’s structure, aligning closely with your company’s vision and culture. In large studios, hiring teams may grow specialized subteams, each focusing on particular areas of gamedev recruitment. Smaller teams often require recruiters to wear different hats, such as handling employer branding, payroll, and serving as an HR business partner. This multifaceted role allows them to comprehend the specific needs and long-term goals of the company, but it can also present challenges if the team isn’t regularly hiring or if recruiters are tasked with numerous responsibilities.

Agency Recruitment: What You Need to Know

Recruitment agencies excel in sourcing and placing candidates swiftly and effectively. They boast vast talent networks and a deep understanding of the gaming industry. However, when it comes specifically to the game development industry, their approach varies – large-scale agencies offer a generalized service, while boutique agencies cater specifically to the gaming industry. These boutique agencies, populated by gaming enthusiasts, deliver a more personalized experience, connecting effectively with game creators and tapping into a wider pool of specialized gamedev talent. If you’ve felt a disconnect with larger agencies before, consider a boutique gaming industry recruitment agency for a more tailored approach.

In-House vs Agency: Points to Contemplate

Let’s now dive into specifics. Here we’ll dissect various factors like speed, specialization, understanding company culture, costs, transparency, flexibility, and long-term commitment.


Speed often becomes a critical factor in recruitment, particularly in the fast-paced gaming industry. In this regard, gamedev recruitment agencies generally have an edge. Their extensive talent databases, combined with a comprehensive understanding of the market, allow them to fill positions swiftly. These agencies are frequently tasked with filling similar roles for other gaming studios, which keeps them closely connected to the pool of potential candidates. They know who’s who, what their capabilities are, and what expectations they may have.

In-house recruitment teams, while possessing a deeper understanding of the company’s culture and specific needs, may not match this pace. The recruitment process could slow down if they are not hiring consistently or if they do not maintain a robust talent pipeline. The time it takes to understand the requirements of a new role, create a job description, publish the vacancy, and start sourcing can be considerable. This can be particularly challenging for organizations that are not top-tier brands, or for recruiters who do not have a strong personal presence on professional platforms like LinkedIn.

Additionally, in smaller studios, a recruiter often serves as an HR generalist, juggling multiple roles such as taking care of employer branding, managing payroll, and other administrative tasks, further affecting their ability to recruit quickly.


In the diverse world of gaming, a multitude of specialized roles exist, each requiring a unique set of skills and understanding. An in-house team with a single recruiter might find it difficult to juggle these diverse requirements efficiently. Imagine the challenge of having one recruiter trying to fill three distinct roles simultaneously – a Senior Unity Developer, a Level Designer, and a Lead Environment Artist. Each role demands a distinct skill set, a different network of potential candidates, and a unique approach to the recruitment process.

A more efficient strategy would be to have at least two recruiters in your in-house team, each dedicated to specific areas. One could focus on creative/art roles, while the other could concentrate on technical roles.

On the other hand, specialized gaming recruitment agencies are typically structured to handle such variety with ease. They would already have teams divided according to the roles they cater to. Their recruiters are experts in their fields, already tuned into the needs, expectations, and nuances of the specific roles they handle. This level of specialization can significantly streamline the recruitment process, ensuring a more effective and efficient match for your unique needs.

Understanding Company Culture

An in-house recruitment team, by virtue of being an inherent part of the game studio, is naturally in sync with its culture. They have an intuitive grasp of the shared values and environment, enabling them to identify candidates who are a perfect fit in terms of skill and company culture.

However, gamedev recruitment agencies should not be discounted. Once they’re briefed and familiarized with the unique culture and vibe of your team, they can effectively match candidates who align with your values. Their wide reach and vast pool of talent increases the chances of finding individuals who not only meet the technical requirements but also enhance the team dynamic with their cultural fit. This nuanced understanding aids in successful placements, fostering a more harmonious and productive work environment.

Cost Considerations

Is in-house recruitment cheaper than outsourcing to an agency? It’s a question that isn’t black and white and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Calculating the cost per hire (CPH) using the standard formula approved by The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), might provide a valid insight.

CPH = (internal recruiting costs + external recruiting costs) / total number of hires

Where Internal Recruiting Costs could be:

  • Recruiter Salary: Cost of in-house recruiter or HR staff.
  • Administrative Costs: Expenses related to paperwork, background checks, testing.
  • Interview Costs: Time spent by staff on interviews and related technology costs.
  • Training and Onboarding: Expenses for training and integrating new hires.
  • HR Technology: Expenses for HR systems like ATS, HRIS, etc.
  • Referral Bonuses: Bonus for employees referring successful candidates.

While External Recruiting Costs include:

  • Job Board Fees: Cost of posting vacancies on job boards.
  • Advertising Costs: Cost of advertising vacancies on third-party platforms.
  • Job Fair Costs: Expenses for participating in job fairs.
  • Third-Party Checks or Testing: Costs for background checks or testing services.
  • Premium Job Site Subscriptions: Membership costs to premium job sites.

Calculating agency recruitment cost per hire would look like this:

AgencyCPH = (Agency fees + internal costs not covered by the agency, eg. Hiring Manager time spent on interviews) / total number of hires from the agency

The specifics will, of course, vary from agency to agency, and it’s important to understand all aspects of the costing structure before signing on.

External costs, such as LinkedIn premium subscriptions, job board fees, interview costs, and paid advertising, are already taken care of when partnering with an agency. As well as the cost-effectiveness, consider the regulations in your location, as agency costs might be tax-deductible.

Pro Tip: Subscription Plans

Pro tip for game studios requiring cost planning: a subscription model with a gamedev recruitment agency can further decrease your CPH. Opting for a 3-month subscription plan, for example, can ensure a steady flow of candidates for chosen positions. The best part is, your costs remain constant irrespective of the number of hires made, offering predictability in your recruitment expenses. Subscription plans are a part of 8Bit’s gamedev recruitment services.

Flexibility & Long-Term Commitment

One of the unique advantages of agency recruitment is its flexibility. You aren’t tied down by any long-term commitments, and you can swiftly change the course as your recruitment needs evolve. These agencies are primed to hit the ground running from day one, requiring just a brief kick-off call to begin their recruiting efforts. You’re only billed for the work done, with no added costs for leave days or sick days.

On the other hand, creating an in-house recruitment team involves a more extensive, long-term commitment. Although they offer consistency and a deeper understanding of your team’s dynamics, this comes at the expense of flexibility. Especially now, in tough economic circumstances, it’s sad to see some game studios laying off their hiring teams, whom they invited on board when the pandemic-related boom happened in gamedev industry.


A seldom considered aspect of working with an agency is the question of transparency. Many game studios fear that when recruitment is handled by an agency, the studio’s brand might not be as visible to potential candidates. However, a recruitment agency can disclose the studio name they are recruiting for, depending on the clients’ preference. This can enhance rather than dilute brand awareness, especially for new and less-known indie game studios.

Salary transparency, or the practice of disclosing salary ranges, is becoming a stronger candidate expectation in gaming sector. If you are unable to present salary ranges on your studio website, partnering with an agency allows you to gauge candidate reactions to the proposed salary confidentially.

In-house vs Agency: Summing Up

Choosing between in-house vs agency recruitment in gaming industry isn’t a cut-and-dry decision. It depends on factors like your hiring volume, budget, and long-term hiring strategy.

For game studios planning to scale up significantly, build a strong employer brand, and have a stable financial backup, having an in-house recruitment team makes sense. However, for indie projects, newly established studios, or those dealing with an economic slowdown, partnering with a recruitment agency can offer an effective, flexible, and often financially sound solution.

Regardless of your choice, clear communication about your needs is the key to effective recruitment.

Happy hiring!