Is Brexit bad news for the gaming industry?

Is Brexit bad news for the gaming industry?

Whilst it’s hard to predict what may or may not happen to the gaming industry when the UK finally leaves the EU, current uncertainty doesn’t exactly look as if it’s giving the sector a boost.

With no guarantees about what may be affected by Brexit, we’ve already noticed that UK-based roles appear less attractive to job-seekers – an opinion not just held by EU candidates, but also non-EU job-seekers.

The UK employs many international designers and gaming professionals; if we fail to attract top talent because of our bid for independence from Europe, the industry will be under threat from a major skills shortage.

According to a recent report by games trade body Ukie, almost two-thirds (61%) rely on overseas talent. Of the international workers here in the UK, a third come from the EU.

This ‘wobble’ has seen a 40% downturn in UK-based positions. As well as affecting new recruits, it also risks impacting existing staff. UK gaming companies will have a challenge on their hands retaining talent that already makes up their workforce. For who wants to be the last person on a sinking ship?!

69% of those surveyed by Ukie said that the paperwork and red tape surrounding immigration is already burdensome, pre-Brexit; the expectation that this will become even more stringent and time-consuming is yet another hurdle recruiters face. It’s not as if we can instantly turn to home-grown designers and coders; 65% of businesses in the gaming industry admitted that they hired people from outside the UK because they felt they’d already drained the UK talent pool.

Trading within the EU is another potential blot on the landscape. Like many industries, how the UK trades with European companies after we leave is another area that’s uncertain. Altered trade tariffs, changes in data localisation, any limitations to content – and particularly, changes to cross border data transfers - could negatively impact game businesses, which is why Ukie’s report recommends to government that the current liberation the industry enjoys, remains.

Another significant area that could change the face of the UK gaming industry involves funding. Many companies have benefited from EU money, and seen their business grow as a result – without access to similar funds, the ongoing growth of some companies may be stunted. Whilst Brexit has been seen by some as an ‘opportunity’ to overhaul and review funding to the UK, there’s no doubt the gaming industry would suffer in the short-term if EU funds suddenly dried up. And should the pound be worth less, following Brexit, fewer man-hours can be purchased with any hard-won funds, which brings its own ramifications.

The internet created a global gaming marketplace, and the UK is seen as an innovator within the industry. The threat of what Brexit may bring has seen 40% of UK companies consider relocating all, or part, of their business.

Despite Ukie’s findings, however, not everyone believes Brexit will negatively impact the gaming industry. Some believe trade with such as China and Brazil will only strengthen over the long term.

Now Article 50 has been triggered, it’s unlikely nothing will change. Let’s just hope negotiations result in as-good-as, if not better, terms for the UK gaming industry.

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