TIGA, the network representing UK video game developers and the video game industry, has responded to today’s result in Britain’s EU referendum. The non-profit organisation have moved quickly to recommend that the UK government take steps to ensure the continued success of sectors with economic potential, including the video games industry.
In a press release, TIGA outlined the following key issues facing the UK video games industry following the result of the EU referendum:
- Access to finance
Difficulty accessing capital has consistently been the top factor holding back many games developers. In an uncertain economic environment, there may be a reduced appetite for investment. Additionally, outside of the EU, the UK games industry will not be able to access schemes such as Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 programmes. The UK Government should promote policies that encourage investment, maintain sector specific schemes such as the Video Games Prototype Fund and consider a Games Investment Fund to help start-ups and small businesses.
- A favourable tax environment
Video Games Tax Relief and R & D Tax Relief have been crucial in enabling the UK video games industry to compete on a more level playing field against the UK’s international competitors, particularly Canada. In a post Brexit world it will be even more vital to maintain, improve and enhance these reliefs in order to attract external investment and to maintain the competitiveness of the sector.
- Access to talent
The UK video games industry relies on a highly skilled workforce to compete. Until now, the industry has had access to a substantial pool of skilled EU workers who can work in the UK without serious administrative restrictions. Brexit is likely to result in new immigration rules requiring employers to secure some sort of visa and to meet certain skills/salary criteria in order to employ migrant workers. It is vital that any new arrangements are not onerous or complex and that industry is not held back by skills shortages.
- Intellectual Property
IP is the lifeblood of the video games industry and the impact of ‘Brexit’ here could be significant. There are many commercial considerations. For example, the UK is part of both the Registered Community Design regime and the EU Trade Mark regime and also recognises the Unregistered EU Design Right. Such rights provide protection to rights holders across the EU Member States. Potentially such EU related rights might lose their validity in the UK. The implication being that those parties who originally held such EU rights may need to apply for UK trade mark and design rights to protect their rights in the UK. This may result in issues relating to existing development and publishing arrangements, IP licenses and security over IP rights.
TIGA CEO Dr. Richard Wilson also made a statement as part of the release, warning that any new migration system implemented in the UK must remain uncomplicated or threaten to hold back export oriented sectors, including the video game industry (which regularly recruits talent from across the world):
““The UK video games industry is a high technology sector that provides high skilled employment for over 30,000 people, including approximately 11,000 development staff and which contributes £1.1 billion to UK GDP. It is also export oriented, with at least 95 per cent 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: for example, aerospace, defence, high-value manufacturing and engineering, high technology industries, higher education, low carbon technology and the creative industries, including the video games sector.
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 R&D 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.”
UKIE CEO Dr. Jo Twist also released a statement, re-affirming the organisations intentions to continue working with the UK government to ensure the video game industry continues to be successful:
UKIE is committed to ensuring the UK is the best place in the world to make and sell games, and although this decision and the political uncertainty it brings will have an impact on our businesses it is important to remember that we already have a globally successful sector and a leading exporter in the digital economy.
UKIE will continue to work hard with colleagues in government to ensure we continue to have the best possible business environment and we will be following developments closely as well as advising members as they unfold.”