Games developers warn of Brexit danger to UK industry success
PUBLISHED: 00:01 02 May 2019
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Games developers have warned MPs that immigration policy after Brexit could hit the UK games industry hard.
During a Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) visit to Dundee, a hub of the UK's globally-successful games industry, developers said they are worried that the £30,000-per-year minimum salary threshold for workers from outside of the UK could hamper their ability to attract key talent.
Many essential roles for games companies, which recruit worldwide, pay less than the proposed threshold, said developers.
According to a report by the BFI, the UK games industry contributed £2.87 billion to the UK economy and provided 47,620 full-time jobs in 2018.
The industry has produced blockbuster hits such as Grand Theft Auto V and Monument Valley, as well as a welter of indie triumphs.
Colin Anderson, commercial director of Earthbound Games, told MPs that this success is not something the UK “inherently deserves”, and it is coveted by many other countries around the world.
He said: “Given the choice, we would like to be able to choose from the widest talent pool, with the least friction possible, which is what we believe we have now.”
He added that many essential roles in his company are filled by people paid under the proposed £30,000 threshold.
Tony Gowland, Ant Workshop founder, said: “There's a lot of native talent, but there's plenty of people who would come to the UK because people want to work in the UK games industry.”
He said that anything that affects freedom of movement will potentiall throw “a spanner in the works” for their recruitment.
Grassroots campaigners from within the industry are so concerned that they've launched a pro-EU guide to voting in the EU elections.
Games4EU is a grassroots group of volunteers from across the UK games industry who are “dedicated to explaining and fighting the impact of the UK leaving the EU on the interactive entertainment industry”.
“We want to keep the UK in the EU,” said the guide.
“It has served our industry and our consumers well; it reflects our outlook and our values in our brilliant, global-minded industry; it gives us the best access to our biggest market; it forms a key part of our business,legal and financial bedrock.”
The guide has an explainer on the elections and a discussion on why it's so important to the industry and to gamers.
The anti-Brexit feeling in the games industry has even inspired one company, No More Robots, to develop a dystopian game set in the years after a hard Brexit.
READ: How Not Tonight became the world's first Brexit video game
In response to the concerns raised in Dundee, a UK government spokesman said: “The video games sector plays an important part in driving the success of the UK's creative industries and our new skills based immigration system will ensure that the sector is able to attract talented workers from around the world so that it can continue to grow and prosper.
“Our plans will support business by stripping out bureaucracy and digitising the system, committing to process the vast majority of work visas within three weeks and removing the cap on the number of skilled professionals.
“We remain invested in fully engaging with stakeholders in every part of the UK and we have launched a 12-month period of extensive engagement on the details of the White Paper.”