UK games trade body presents evidence of effects of Brexit on sector

London, United Kingdom Report identifies access to talent as biggest concern to UK games businesses ahead of triggering Article 50   

Games trade body Ukie have today launched a new report, at a Westminster event, outlining the potential impact of Brexit on the UK games sector.

‘The UK games industry’s priorities for the EU negotiations’ is a result of an extensive consultation conducted by Ukie between September 2016 – February 2017, including capturing detailed information from over 75 UK games studios, publishers and games service companies, and an eleven-date roundtable tour of the UK, talking directly with over 70 games businesses and legal experts.

The report was presented to an audience of MPs, Peers and senior civil servants at an event today in The Houses of Parliament, which was also attended by leading names in the games sector. The evidence presented is intended to inform government’s positions following the triggering of Article 50 but also to be considered in relation to the government’s recently announced Industrial Strategy and Digital Strategy proposals.

The key findings of the report centre around four main topics:


Talent is the number one priority for games businesses. The UK’s departure from the EU is seen as an opportunity to redefine our immigration laws to position the UK as home to the best technological and creative international talent.

  • 61% of games businesses rely on highly skilled international talent to make innovative new products and services
  • Of those games businesses employing overseas people, EU staff make up an average of 35% of the workforce and employees from the rest of the world make up an average of 17%
  • 40% of businesses are already seeing negative impacts on their ability to recruit and retain talent as Brexit is perceived as weakening the UK’s attractiveness as a destination
  • 98.4% of respondents believe that in the future EU nationals who meet certain skills criteria should have a blanket right to live and work in the UK
  • 69% of business report that the immigration application process is burdensome and 38% say it was a significant obstacle to hiring the right people
  • 65% of games businesses hired international talent due to a shortage of the right skills in the UK – there is therefore an urgent need to increase support for skills initiatives to increase the UK’s own highly skilled talent pool

Access to markets

Games business were clear that it is vital that games businesses retain the ease of trade, for digital services and physical goods, that they currently enjoy through membership of the European single market.

  • Non-tariff barriers to trade present more of a threat to UK games businesses than financial tariffs
  • 16.4% have experienced non-tariff barriers to trade such as content restrictions and data localisation whilst only 3% are aware of financial trade tariffs that apply to the games industry
  • Future trading relationships with both the EU and new international partners should seek to enshrine the existing trade liberalisations the games industry currently enjoys


Data is of fundamental importance to the games industry. It is therefore critical that the Government ensures there is a robust legal basis in place following our departure from the EU for cross-border data transfers between the UK and EU to continue, and that any future changes to data protection laws do not hinder this flow of data.

  • 59% of games businesses rely on the ability to process data from users outside the UK
  • Whilst it is technically feasibly to separate the data they hold on UK users, 63% of games businesses say this would impose significant costs

Our departure from the EU was seen as an opportunity to review our existing public funding structures to see more targeted funding that will unlock the long-term cultural and commercial potential of the UK games industry.

  • Whilst UK games businesses have welcomed being able to access certain European funds like Creative Europe, these haven’t always been initially designed with the games industry in mind
  • It was vital that all funding currently available to the games sector must remain in place or have an equivalent UK fund in place by the point of Brexit
  • Any review of funding should include further support for the production of games content, skills and international trade activity and should consider a post-referendum review of other successful UK initiatives such as the SEIS scheme
  • Many UK games clusters had benefitted from EU funding to build digital infrastructure and multi-million Euro investment in regenerating inner city areas that are now home to games businesses and the wider digital creative sector – this funding must continue

CEO of Ukie, Dr Jo Twist OBE, said, “We know that evidence is key to informing policy and want the information presented in this report to inform the direction that the country will follow both in our upcoming negotiations with the EU as well as our ambition to become a truly Global Britain – home to top diverse international talent, pioneers and innovators from the tech and creative industries who’ll shape the world ahead.

The UK games industry blends the best of British innovation and creativity and we have the opportunity to lead the world in AI, VR, AR development through what we do in the games industry. We look forward to working with Government to seize the opportunities in key areas such as skills, immigration and public funding reform to create a 21st Century globally competitive future.”

Noirin Carmody, COO Revolution Software and Chair of the Ukie Board, said, “The 2,000 games businesses operating in the UK are by their very nature international and outward looking. Every games developer and publisher in the country looks to trade in the global marketplace, exporting cutting edge, digitally creative content to consumers around the world. And due to the highly skilled nature of creating games, the sector has to draw on the best global talent, in fields as diverse as concept art, data analytics, and artificial intelligence programming.

Brexit raises a number of challenges in these and other areas. Challenges that will affect not just the games industry but the wider technology and creative sectors that games sit within. It is therefore vital that government considers how leaving the EU will impact these sectors, if the UK is to remain a world leading destination for creative, high-tech, knowledge-intensive companies that will continue to succeed in the 21st century. We hope that this report provides valuable evidence and clear recommendations that will assist policy makers in the months following the triggering of Article 50.”

Chris White MP, Co-Chair of the APPG for Video Games, said, “The UK games sector is world leading in terms of creative industries and has enormous potential to grow.  The evidence presented by Ukie today is insightful and important to consider as the Government enters into negotiations with the EU and other trade partners.  We have a strong foundation on which to build, but must ensure we achieve a positive outcome from the negotiations to secure the continued growth of the British games industry.”

You can access the report in full here.

For more information about Ukie’s ongoing policy work, contact Tim Scott, Head of Public Affairs at Ukie.






For all press enquiries, please contact Sophie Densham or @ukiesophie


About UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie)

Ukie (UK Interactive Entertainment) is the only trade body for the UK's games and interactive entertainment industry. A not-for-profit, it represents businesses of all sizes from small start-ups to large multinational developers, publishers and service companies, working across online, mobile apps, consoles, PC, eSports, VR and AR.

Ukie aims to support, grow and promote member businesses and the wider UK games and interactive entertainment industry by optimising the economic, cultural, political and social environment needed for businesses to thrive.

Ukie works closely with the sector to influence government and decision makers, lobbying successfully for the 2014 Video Games Tax Relief, the UK Games Fund, and the Next Gen Skills campaign which resulted in a new Computer Science Curriculum. Ukie makes connections for businesses and help them access the opportunities a digital economy offers, via a successful International Trade programme, running UK Games Industry stands at the biggest international industry events.

It promotes the industry by working with the media to raise awareness of the sector’s positive cultural and economic contribution, as well as the societal benefits of games. Ukie runs, where families can learn about safe and sensible online practices, parental controls and age ratings.

Ukie’s skills work serves to increase inclusion and diversity, advocating a STEAM approach to education. Initiatives include the Digital Schoolhouse (DSH), Video Games Ambassadors (VGAs), a Student Membership scheme, and a professional development programme

Ukie commissioned the Blueprint for Growth report in 2015, an independent review of the UK games industry with recommendations for decision makers in Parliament for how the industry can grow.

In 2016 Ukie partnered with Film London to deliver Games London, a ground breaking new three-year programme to promote the UK as the games capital of the world, the focal point of which is the annual London Games Festival.

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