Andy Payne: Brexit threatens UK talent pool

Games are global and for over ten years developers and publishers have been able to sell their games digitally pretty much everywhere around the globe, bar China, from their location of choice.

The UK has a rich games development history, but has also done much to encourage entrepreneurs and start ups, through Video Games Tax Relief as well as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).

The UK has also welcomed the brightest talent from around the globe and has a great legal system, which is the envy of the world, and a financial services ecosystem that rivals the US.

Certainty and stability were words that made the UK stand out. But it hasn’t always been like this. Only a few years ago, the UK was losing talent, most notably to Canada – where tax incentives attracted big studio investment – and things did not look so good for the UK games scene.

Then along came Brexit. I think it is pretty safe to say no one really knows what impact Brexit will have on the UK, let alone our wonderful games industry. Certainty and stability have taken a back seat for now and we are truly headed into the realms of the unknown.

Talent drives our industry and we must not lose sight of that. I have been involved in discussions with the UK Government around ensuring we do not lose access to that talent by introducing hard and harsh rules around who can come and live and work in the UK.

Certainty and stability have
taken a back seat for now and
we are truly headed into the realms of the unknown.

Andy Payne OBE

The mood now seems to have changed at the top level and at last there seems to be an understanding of how crucial this aspect is to our collective economic and social future.

High value jobs and sustainable growth are essential to UK PLC and the games industry is the fastest growing sector within the Creative Industries, themselves the fastest growing sector of our economy. And yet we are
still having discussions about the rights of EU citizens living and working here.

So many games companies I know have a diverse workforce. These teams need certainty and stability, and above all want to know they are welcome here, not just for the short term or a specific contract, but to put their roots down here, have families and contribute to our wonderful society.

I hope we can move fast to reassure everyone.

Unlike other industries, talented games developers and publishers only really need access to the internet, a connected device and an EasyJet account to do their work.

The rules have changed now and our global games industry will thrive where they feel most welcomed and appreciated. Let’s hope that is the UK.

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