Brexit could affect talent pipeline for games industry

The gaming industry holds concerns that leaving the European Union will affect access to games development talent

The games development industry has expressed concerns that leaving the European Union (EU) will affect its talent pipeline.

Games developer network Tiga has claimed an exit from the EU may lead to harsher immigration rules, preventing European developers from contributing to games development in the UK.

Richard Wilson, Tiga CEO, said: “The UK video games industry is a technology sector that provides high-skilled employment for more than 30,000 people, including approximately 11,000 development staff, and which contributes £1.1bn to UK GDP.

“It is also export-oriented, with at least 95% of studios exporting. Following the referendum in favour of ‘Brexit’, it will be more vital than ever to strengthen – and avoid harming – those sectors where the UK has a comparative competitive advantage.”

Research by Tiga has found 15% of UK games development staff are from the EU, and the network claimed the government should take responsibility to ensure the games industry still has access to talent and funding.

Tiga highlighted access to finance, tax relief and intellectual property are among other areas of threat caused by jumping the EU ship.

The UK games industry was cited to grow significantly in 2016, with 70% of employers in the sector planning new hires throughout the year.  

As it stands, the industry has access to funding through schemes such as Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) backed UK Games Fund, designed to promote growth in UK creative industries.

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But Tiga expressed concerns that European programmes, such as Creative Europe and Horizon 2020, which support creative industries in the EU may no longer be open to UK applications post-Brexit.

The network called on the government to invest further in schemes such as the Video Games Prototype Fund to avoid growing industries being negatively affected by a potentially uncertain economic environment.

Wilson said: “For the video games industry, it is particularly important that policy makers ensure games companies have access to sufficient finance, benefit from video games tax relief and research and development tax relief, have clear and stable IP rights and can access highly skilled people from outside of the UK.

“Any new points-based migration system must not be onerous or complicated, otherwise the industry’s growth could be held back.”

The UK is currently part of the Registered Community Design regime, the EU Trade Mark regime and acts under the Unregistered EU Design Right, all of which are designed to protect the rights of those creating intellectual properly, such as video games, as part of the European Union. This means an exit from the EU could significantly affect rules around intellectual property for games developers.

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