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OPM's Kim Parker-Adcock: If you survive this industry downsizing, you can survive anything

Back in January, UK-based recruiter One Player Mission (known for decades as OPM) closed its doors after 26 years.

While this may seem to be one of many closures the industry has suffered in the past year, OPM’s service as a jobs agency gave it different insight into the downsizing currently ongoing in the video games business, with founder Kim Parker-Adcock observing that recruitment can be a good indicator as to what will happen to the wider industry.

Like so many companies, OPM had seen a surge in business after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, although Parker-Adcock notes there were changes underway even before them.

“There were new formats and new hardware coming out, game engines were growing, and remote working wasn’t much of a thing but it was definitely a conversation, as was four-day weeks,” she tells

“Then COVID hit. Everyone’s at home playing games. Funding available in 2020 went from millions to billions, everyone grabbed that money, studios were popping up, expanding, and taking on 500 people. We had never known anything like it.

“Simultaneously, because they needed more recruiters, my team and all the recruitment agencies were getting headhunted from. The culmination of that was that of my 11-person sales team, only three remained. We had to rebuild the whole business, with new people, and working remotely because of COVID.”

Rebuilding a business at any time is difficult, but the complications added by remote working made it especially tricky, particularly when it came to training up the new recruits from afar.

“You can’t see people, you can’t hear them, you can’t gauge how they really feel about things,” Parker-Adcock explains. “You can’t mentor them in the moment, and 95% of training is on the job. So I can completely understand why companies want people back in-house, as inconvenient as it is to people who only took a job because it was remote – and I understand a lot of people genuinely cannot move now.”

By 2022, Parker-Adcock and her team noticed that the number of job vacancies was decreasing. Initially, she figured this was the market “rightsizing” after a “tidal wave of recruitment” – but the decline didn’t stop.

“Clients stopped responding, or were doing it all internally. We were competing not only with other agencies but also internal teams, some of which contained my staff,” she adds with a laugh.

At first, Parker-Adcock was not too concerned. She had seen similar downsizing in the wake of the dotcom bubble bursting in the early 2000s, as well as the 2008 recession. Both times, OPM had nearly closed but survived long enough for the market to pick up again. But it soon became apparent that something was different this time.

“We’ve never had a high like this, and it’s created a vacuum behind it,” Parker-Adcock explains. “During COVID, there was this great big pie for everyone to eat from and there was enough to go around. However, games development takes a long time, so by the time these games come out or you’re looking at your next big milestone, everyone’s back outside – holidays, bars, pubs, events.

“The industry grew by 0.6% last year, which is not much more growth. What we’re left [with] is a much smaller pie, with a lot more mouths to feed. Some games are definitely performing, and doing as well as they should have done, but there’s definitely a smaller pie to eat from. There are too many games, too many companies, too many employees. The salaries that were being paid [as companies expanded] blew our minds – people were getting £10,000 or £20,000 more than they normally would have.

“By summer 2022, companies were stuck with super high recruitment costs, plus super high employee costs, and the funding was already starting to dry up. [Recruitment] is very much a barometer for what’s coming.”

The reality is that, as a recruitment agency, when companies slow or stop hiring, “there isn’t much you can do at that point,” Parker-Adcock says. OPM was still placing some people in new jobs, but it had to change the way it approached clients and potential recruits. The company has also undergone a major rebrand to One Player Mission at the beginning of 2023, which helped boost interest in its services.

Then the redundancies started.

Parker-Adcock tells us people on her team began to worry about losing their jobs because they weren’t placing many applicants in new roles, but how could they? She would tell them: “If the jobs aren’t there to fill, what can you do?”

OPM was told by most of its clients to expect updates on their hiring needs in January 2024; some even suggested this was when they would pick up recruitment again. When the updates arrived, clients said they had no recruitment plans, or didn’t speak to the agency at all because they knew they were going to be making redundancies instead. A couple said they would begin hiring again in April, one said July. Parker-Adcock took these as guesses.

“If it’s that far out, if you’re telling us July, then you don’t really know,” she explains.

At this point, she had taken a long hard look at her company: the cash flow, the supplier contracts, any long-term agreements. She looked at estimates on when the industry would recover. A decision needed to be made about the future of OPM, and it needed to be soon.

The final straw came in a January meeting where one member of the team told Parker-Adcock they had contacted 50 companies about potential recruitment needs. Only one replied, and it was to say they were now using internal recruiters.

“That was pretty much the moment where I knew. We had very loyal clients, we’d even offered a discounted fee structure, but even with that it didn’t make any difference. We had an exclusive client coming in, one member of the team landed three new clients, another hit their target for the first quarter of the year, but overall it was too little too late.

“In this business, you’re responsible for making a lot of big decisions, and closing a business is one of the biggest ones. Much as it was my choice, it wasn’t my first choice. It’s not the retirement I had in mind.”

An unfortunate irony was that Parker-Adcock had been preparing to exit the business herself. The team, she tells us, was more than ready. And after 26 years in the same job, she was looking to do something different. She was planning a management buyout that would have left her sons Nathan and Jordan as joint managing directors, with Kim still on hand if needed as a non-executive director.

“Instead, I’ve made my sons redundant,” she says. “That’s not a claim most mothers would be comfortable with. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. “

In the weeks after OPM’s closure, Parker-Adcock spent much of her time helping the 15 remaining employees find a new role. She received messages from industry friends, offering her support or potential new roles for herself, but she passed these on to members of the team.

“I’ve got to say a huge thank you to everybody who reached out,” she says. “They’ve got no idea, when you’re at your lowest ebb… I don’t necessarily feel like a failure because I don’t believe we were doing anything wrong. We can’t change the world, it’s that simple. At some point, I’d have to call it and it was now.”

And while Parker-Adcock was planning to step away from recruitment, she’s doing her part to assist those affected by the ongoing layoffs. She has been called in on a short-term contract to help with staff who have been made redundant at a prominent UK studio, and is consulting for another games recruitment business. And she has incorporated a new business, KimpaUK, as a success coach.

She is also mentoring The Hub 175 CEO Tanya Kapur and assisting her with the organisation of Game Day X, a one-day expo and conference that runs next week as part of the London Games Festival, and working with VR outsourcer Svaiy Art – all while finalising the liquidation process for OPM.

“I haven’t been this busy in years,” she tells us. “I’ve actually enjoyed having to learn something new. I definitely want to [keep working], although it won’t be another recruitment agency. Not any time soon.”

This leads us to ask what the future holds for games jobs agencies and recruitment in general, with Parker-Adcock suggesting “there’s a reformation happening.”

“I don’t know what games recruitment will look like going forwards,” she says. “Internal recruitment seems to be the thing – every single one of my team members who has left in the past three years has gone internal. So it’s not like there’s anything wrong with how we do things.

“However, that comes at a price, it’s another HR thing you have to deal with, and all these micro companies that are popping up everywhere, they can’t afford an internal recruiter. Agencies have an opportunity there, and I think we’ll see some freelancer recruiters popping up because they can’t find jobs. Internal is not easier, it’s just different.”

Looking more near-term, the question on a lot of people’s lips is much the same as it was for Parker-Adcock at the start of the year: when will the layoffs stop and recruitment pick up again?

“If I knew that, I might have carried on,” she says. “At the moment, developers, publishers and service companies can’t give you an answer on that because it will all depend on the market. It depends on how their games sell. It doesn’t depend on their funding any more, they’ve either got that, or lost it. It depends on how their games sell. If people don’t buy games… I was praying for a harsh winter – a worldwide ice age would have been amazing – so people could have stayed home and played games, giving [all the companies] enough to get through it but learn from it.

“But if you can survive this, if you’re still here in a year’s time, you will survive anything.”

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