Brexit and the UK Games Industry: The State of Play

With the Queen’s speech delivered and Brexit negotiations underway, every sector of the UK’s economy is waiting to see exactly what it all means for them. Naturally enough, that includes the fast-moving and energetic games industry. It’s going to take some time to get a clear overall picture, and things could start changing rapidly as those negotiations progress. What we can do now, though, is listen closely to what industry bodies and experts are predicting, and make some careful forecasts and preparations of our own.

The Digital Charter and the Data Protection Bill

Two main things leap out as relevant from the Queen’s relatively sparse speech: the Digital Charter proposals and the new Data Protection Bill commitment. There’s a determination in evidence here to make the UK’s online environment a safe one. The government’s hoping to strike a delicate balance between the rights of people over their how their own information is handled and the needs of business to make effective use of that information. How that balance settles is going to set the pace for the whole technology industry, so it’ll need to be watched carefully. The “right to be forgotten” poses some interesting challenges, for instance, while the General Data Protection Regulation features some pretty uncomfortable penalties in its effort to unify and simplify a somewhat tangled regulatory framework.

Education

On top of all this, we’ve seen some intriguing promises about reforms to technical education, in hopes of equipping people for the “jobs of the future”. The UK’s games industry will live or die on the flow of new talent entering the field, so investments like this are a promising development at a challenging time.

Since the in/out EU referendum, the foreign talent pool drawn from by UK firms has already been cut in half. It’s not difficult to see why 40% of games companies are at least considering upping sticks and shifting abroad. If that ugly future’s to be avoided, it’s clear that there’s more to be done. Again, there are still many crucial Brexit questions left unanswered, so the government’s push toward supporting the valuable gaming industry is both welcome and understandable.

UK Industry Growth and Initiatives

Speaking of that value, it’s worth mentioning that UK gaming is still gaining speed at one of the fastest rates in the world. UKIE reports that the industry’s set to grow in yearly value by over £14 billion in 2017. Britain is still a very healthy place to make games – and a lot of that comes down to the incentives and support offered through government schemes.

The UK Games Talent initiative is actively searching for the next generation of superstar game designers, while the UK Games Fund is offering £25,000 and £50,000 grants to companies with ideas and development teams in place.

As for Video Games Tax Relief, it’s unlikely that the government will want to kick any serious dents in the scheme as it stands. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll all be business as usual, though. The VGTR rules have a strong EU and EEA focus, particularly in the qualifying criteria. Some are suggesting that we might see that focus drawing in to be more UK-specific after Brexit. Again, though, these are open questions for now.

The bottom line is that it’s worth getting your VGTR applications sorted out sooner rather than later. In uncertain times, it’s important to shore up your financial security wherever possible. We don’t yet have a full picture of the changes and challenges Brexit’s bringing, but you’ll weather them far better if you’ve claimed back a large chunk of your development costs through the scheme. Our specialist VGTR teams have the skills and expertise to make sure you get the very best from your projects – so whatever your game is, let RIFT keep you at the top of it.

 

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