In an industry that is becoming more and more unpredictable, lots of companies are going the route of hiring people as on site contractors for periods of 3 to 12 months. Most of these kinds of contracts don't pay for relocation and don't offer any benefits that are tied to the company. The hiring is done through a different company, a staffing company.
Contract positions are filled to help with the final push before a game is released by 6 to 12 months OR to get more man power without having to commit to an employee.
To me, if you are new to the industry and get an offer for a contract gig, then go for it. I believe this is a calculated risk you are taking. Primarily because it is giving you a chance to get some valuable experience and a shipped title under your belt, which will make getting a job much easier down the road. Make sure you keep an eye open on other opportunities, because that one year or 6 months goes by very fast.
One thing you should consider if you do decide to go for it, and specifically if it involves relocating, try and land a gig in a city where there are a bunch of other game studios. That way you are giving yourself more options after your contract is over and you also have the opportunity to network with other local game developers around you.
If you live in a city that has a bunch of game studios, then contract work should be fine for a couple of years until you get some solid experience under your belt, and after that, landing a full time gig should be much easier.
On the other hand, if you have a family, then taking a contract gig is pretty stressful. But if you are in a tight situation, it is better than not having work at all. Think of it as an opportunity to better plan your next move, without having to worry too much about taking care of your loved ones. If it involves relocation, I personally think you should seriously reflect on it and if it is worth it in the long term. Relocation is very expensive and will put a serious dent in your bank account if you are not reimbursed for it.
- Great experience that could later help you get a full time job
- A small possibility of being hired full time after your contract is up
- Over time (x1,5)
- Expanding your network in the industry
- No help with relocation, you pay for everything yourself
- No benefits (most staffing companies do offer health care)
- Not being able to get hired by that company for more contract work for at least 3 to 6 months after your contract is over due to legal reasons
- On paper you don't work for the game company, but for the staffing company that hired you. They will be paying you.
- This means that you will not be included in lots of company events
*Personal Beef: Recruiters need to stop throwing, "All our contract employees become full timers after their term is over" that's some serious BS that gives you false hope and creates unnecessary tension. Just drop it.
So to be honest, there are multiple scenarios for how to handle contract work. This is not a yes or no answer because it ultimately depends on your specific situation. I recommend taking some time thinking about it before considering the offer, especially if it involves relocating you and your family.
Wishing you the best in your career.