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UK game industry already feeling Brexit pinch

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New survey shows concerns in world’s sixth-largest games market

Tourists enjoying London
Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

A new survey in the United Kingdom shows that 40 percent of games companies are considering moving part or all of their business to other countries, following last year's referendum result for Britain to exit the European Union.

The survey, commissioned by trade body UKIE (United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment) reveals concerns in Britain’s games industry about the country's withdrawal from the EU, a process commonly known as Brexit.

Earlier this week. British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered EU negotiations for Brexit, which are likely to take around two years. The decision followed a referendum last summer, in which 53 percent of U.K. voters opted to leave the EU. In the wake of the result, many in the British games industry expressed disappointment.

Since the EU referendum, 37 percent of respondents reported a negative impact on their ability to attract investment, with that number rising to 48 percent among smaller companies, with fewer than 50 employees.

When asked if Brexit has had a negative impact on attracting talent from abroad, 38 percent of respondents agreed. That number rose to 60 percent for companies employing more than 50 people.

The survey was taken by 76 companies, including developers, publishers and services. About a third of the companies surveyed employ more than 50 people.

According to UKIE, the United Kingdom is the sixth-largest games market in the world, with annual revenues in excess of £4.2 billion ($5.2 billion). More than 2,000 games companies operate in the U.K., employing 12,100 people.

More than 60 percent of companies responding to the survey said they employ talent from outside the U.K. Sixty-seven percent said that the visa process is already burdensome. Immigration is likely to become tougher once Britain leaves the EU, where workers can move freely between countries.

The British government has yet to clarify what will happen to EU workers in Britain after Brexit is implemented. Almost all respondents said that skilled EU workers should be allowed to work freely in Britain.