Investors shrug off Brexit video game fears

Christopher Dring
Investors shrug off Brexit video game fears

Brexit will be ‘totally irrelevant' when it comes to UK games investment, insist leading venture capitalists.

London Venture Partners and Mercia Fund Management say that the digital nature of the games business means that the Brexit result, although unfortunate, will leave UK games firms largely untroubled.

It comes as UK trade body UKIE increases its activity with the Government, to ensure continued support for games and to reaffirm the importance of the tax relief currently offered to UK studios. The firm held its planned Westminster reception this week.

Meanwhile, newly-formed Games London will take a delegation of foreign investors on a tour of Britain from next week.

There is negligible immediate impact and it is unlikely to get much worse or indeed better as a result of Brexit,” says Mercia's Mike Hayes.

"Most content is now digital and it has a free trade passage in any case. Most companies sell more in dollars and Euros than pounds, so at the moment revenues are growing. The opportunity for digital content whether in games, VR, serious gaming and so on remains, and there is a global market for it so investment remains keen and available. The UK is one of the world's powerhouses of digital and creativity, we are in demand. I cannot see that changing.

Possibly the only longer term negative will be the free movement of personnel around Europe. Due to successive governments not understanding how to educate its people in the skills relating to the digital economy, we have a nationwide skills shortage. Thus the proportion of EU staff hired by UK-based developers is relatively high. In the short term EU nationals may be reluctant to come to the UK due to uncertainties.

I wonder how much of the current instability is caused by the media rather then reality.”

London Venture Partners' David Gardner continued: The Brexit vote is pretty much irrelevant from our perspective because we are looking for the best teams and talent in Europe, and that's a geographical thing and not a political thing. The UK is great and will continue to be, and it doesn't matter if it is in a political union with other countries, because everything is digital.

The focus is on talent. If a studio is starting in the UK and they need a French artist that is absolutely the perfect solution... will it be complicated to get that person? The answer to that is we don't know. But I seriously doubt it.

I am very sanguine about the whole thing, I think Brexit will be frankly totally irrelevant for games.”

He added: We move so fast in games. This negotiation is going to take years, and we will have gone through two or three versions of a product by then. The worse thing that could happen is that you wouldn't be able to hire who you want from other European countries - which seems inconceivable to me - but even if that did happen and we used this Australian-style points-based system... that might actually make it easier to hire talent from the US and from Commonwealth countries.”

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