Last year saw one of the most important votes in British history, with a referendum deciding that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union. Immediately after the vote took place, discussions began about how Brexit would affect the UK games industry, and less than a year on from the vote some companies are already sensing a change in the air. According to a report by the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the effects of Brexit are already taking hold.
The UKIE released a paper detailing the priorities of the UK video games industry when it came to the UK’s negotiations over leaving the EU. Within the paper were a number of statistics that show the strain that the vote to leave the EU, and the ongoing uncertainty that stemmed from it, has placed upon the games industry itself. Perhaps the most striking of the lot is the fact that 40% of all businesses are considering relocating part of all of their business to outside of the UK, with 23% of those companies having been already approached by other places.
It’s not just the relocation that has proved to be an issue for some companies, either. Talent recruitment has also become an issue in the months since the Brexit vote, with 38% of businesses seeing a negative impact when it comes to acquiring and retaining global talent. This is apparently exacerbated for larger companies, with 60% of businesses with over 50 employees seeing a negative impact from a talent perspective.
Further strains have also been felt from an investment point of view. 37% of games businesses reported a negative impact on their ability to attract investment, which became a much more disappointing 48% of businesses with less that 50 employees. This will be concerning for the UK’s strong indie development scene, particularly with great studios such as Roll7 proving how the independent scene can thrive in the country.
Thankfully, it’s not all gloom and doom. There is perhaps a hope that these setbacks are minor, and that once the terms of the UK’s break from the EU are met that things will continue to get back on track. 63% of all companies are still projecting growth, and although that is down on previous years it is still a strong testament to how well the UK game’s industry is going, as shown by the success and growth of developers such as Creative Assembly.
Nonetheless, all those involved in the industry will be hoping that the impact on video games as a viable business is not too heavy, whatever the eventual outcome of the UK’s exit from the EU. However, these developers and publishers have raised their concerns, with companies such as the award-winning The Chinese Room, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, and even major offices for the likes of mobile developer King asking for this hugely important creative industry to be taken into consideration during the negotiation process.
At the moment, it’s too early to say as to whether these trends will cause a long-term drain on the industry. Given how perseverant the UK gaming industry has been over the decades, though, no doubt UK game developers will be unwavering in the face of any adversity thrown at them.