The UK games industry faces up to Brexit

Britain has, by a very narrow margin, voted to leave the EU – and video games companies across the country are waking up to a potentially huge challenge.

Just last week MCV revealed that the sector was very much in favour of remaining.

UKIE’s most recent survey found that only 18.7 per cent of the UK games industry felt positive about the UK games industry’s potential for growth should we leave the EU. In fact, 71.2 per cent of respondents said that they were ‘not very positive’ or ‘not at all positive’ about the UK games industry’s prospects in the next two years should a Brexit occur.

The poll found that the UK games industry relies on overseas workers. When asked to respond to the statement: ‘There is currently enough home-grown high-skilled or specialist talent to meet my firm’s needs’ (below), only 6.8 per cent of UK firms strongly agreed, while 16.9 per cent said that they agreed.

The biggest proportion of respondents – 28.8 per cent – said they disagree, with a further 16.9 per cent strongly disagreeing. In response to a separate question, 52.5 per cent of UK games firms strongly agree that free movement of workers within the EU is vital to fill positions requiring high levels of skill and experience, with another 25.4 per cent agreeing. Only 6.8 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Respondents were also asked how much they agreed with the following statement: ‘Leaving the EU will create new opportunities for high-skilled migration from across the world’. Only 11.9 per cent strongly agreed while no-one agreed. 28.8 disagreed with the statement, while 30.5 per cent strongly disagreed.

The survey also found that the games industry is ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of yesterday’s decision.

41.1 per cent of UK games companies have not even had discussions to plan for the eventuality of a Brexit. A further 35.6 per cent companies have had internal discussions, but no decisions for action have been taken as of yet. Meanwhile, 13.6 per cent of UK games firms have internal discussions about the implications of leaving the EU. Only 1.7 per cent have undertaken a serious degree of planning for this eventuality.

The financial markets are in turmoil this morning. The pound has plummeted, hundreds of billions have been wiped off the FTSE and institutions such as banks are haemorrhaging cash.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney made a positive speech, reassuring both the public and businesses that contingency plans are in place and that the UK economy is positioned to weather the short-term disruption caused by the shock. However, with the threat of a fresh Scottish independence vote, an outgoing Prime Minister and all the uncertainties of the EU exit negotiations to come, these are worrying times for every business in the country.

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