Earlier today, Economy Minister Chris Cardona issued a call for expressions of interest for the transformation of the ‘White Rocks Holiday Complex’ in Pembroke, Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, into an upmarket real estate development. The project aims to benefit the economy and is naturally set to cater for the increasing demands by the 8,000 strong igaming workforce.
But how will it benefit the remote gaming and digital games community in Malta? To date, most expats tend to reside in the St. Julian’s – Sliema area. They consequently commute as little as possible. Pembroke and the new White Rocks project would also address these needs. Expatriates tend to live in this area and socialise in this area. The average age of employees with gaming companies is less than thirty. Most of these people thrive on the nightlife that is found all year round in Paceville. If the offices were too far away from the resources, it is feared, that the resources would not be willing to be employed by that company. This tendency seems to be decreasing and companies are moving away from this one particular area.
Parking and commuting are relevant issues. Most of the expatriates do now own their own mode of transportation. Thus they are dependent on public transport or walking to arrive from one place to another. Thus it is important for the workplace to be in an area which is easily accessible by public transport. On the other hand, most of the Maltese employees have their own transportation. Parking is a big issue in most areas of Malta, but especially in the St. Julian’s – Sliema area. Thus office buildings which have their own parking areas are considered as a bonus, and may offset the extra cost of rental. Although the actual distances are short, the state of the roads and traffic do not make for an attractive solution.
Some companies have admitted that they were personal influences with regards to the choice of location. These were basically in relation to the distance between the office and the place of residence of the decision makers.
The concentration of gaming companies has shifted slightly from the St. Julian’s – Sliema are to Ta’ Xbiex. There is one particular street, which is filled almost entirely with gaming companies. Some companies have moved to other localities like Birkirkara and Mosta. But the focus remains on the north part of Malta.
As the industry matures, more and more employees are likely to remain in the industry. The average age will start to increase. As people become older, their perception of life changes and so do their needs and wants. White Rocks might provide the perfect alternative to an otherwise more central, busier Sliema/St. Julian’s area. This will result in shifts in employee places of residency and thus will probably shift the outlook that gaming companies have on location and incur them to consider other locations, which they had not considered previously.
Full details about the government project are downloadable here.