No matter whether you are for or against it, Brexit is happening. Actually, it has been for some time now. And while the change’s not yet fully completed, many industries are already being affected by it.

The Stirling fell drastically in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.  Now, it’s said to be trading around 6% lower against the dollar than before the Brexit vote. With a mass of economic uncertainty, I am left wondering: how will this affect the British indie gaming industry?

What Are You Talking About!?

Let’s start at the beginning: what is Brexit?  The EU Referendum was a vote made by the British public in 2016 to leave the European Union (EU), later dubbed as Brexit. The yes to leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. While the referendum took place in 2016, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in 2019.

EU Referendum vote, The Indie Toaster, Brexit

How One Vote Changed It All

In 2017, it was reported  that 40% of companies in the UK games industry, including several indie studios, were considering relocation. This was due to the concern of losing European talent; an understandable concern!

In the months after the Brexit vote, many companies saw a negative effect on their global recruiting. With 57% of UK games companies employing workers from the EU, this could have an even greater effect on the industry as the last pieces fall into place. Once the maneuver is complete, EU talents will need a special permit to enter the United Kingdom and contribute to the creation of new games.

It is not all doom and gloom though! In a survey by trade organization TIGA, it was revealed that 11% of the 63 game businesses studied experienced a positive effect from Brexit. According to some of these entrepreneurs, the fall of sterling made some UK game studios more competitive on the global market.

Does Brexit Just Affect Britain?

In 2017, the United Kingdom was the fifth biggest video game market, with virtual reality as its fastest growing segment. At the time of writing, there are over 2000 UK games companies giving jobs to about 20,000 full-time employees, both from Great Britain and the rest of the world. In a sense, this could all change with Brexit.

As companies can no longer hire from outside of the UK, the entire gaming industry will suffer an array of consequences. There is a shortage of skilled UK candidates, which many within the industry see as a potential danger once the country breaks off from the rest of the continent.

If UK-based studios – indie or not – were to fall due to a lack of skilled employees, the international games industry might lose one of its biggest contributors. Relocation could be a solution, but that’d still isolate  Great Britain from the rest of the world; effectively cutting off a reliable source of new ideas!

While the negative effect won’t cause the loss of all 2000+ companies, a sizable number of them are very likely to  fall off the radar. This means less studios; which leads to less games and thus to an impoverishment of the whole market. As such, the consequences of Brexit will be felt well beyond the country’s natural borders.

What Can We Do About This?

Brexit is still a long way off; and while it is definitely happening, how it happens is still Brexit, The Indie Toaster, Games4EUup for discussion. In an effort to limit the damage, several associations are already moving to counterattack. Among them,  Games4EU is a project launched this month to “stop, or limit the damage, of a hard or no deal Brexit”.

The group aim to demonstrate the harm this political maneuver will cause to the gaming industry, including the increased business costs and the loss of jobs we discussed before. They are currently looking for support, so make sure you visit their website or social media.

At the same time, local development studios also benefit greatly from your support. If you find yourself in the UK this summer, something as easy as visiting a convention could do a lot to ensure that these people will still have a job in the years to come!

Are you looking to learn more of the figures behind this article? Then the Ukie study and these articles from The Guardian and gamesindustry.biz should be the next on your reading list!