France bids to attract British developers post-Brexit

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Game Developer

The French Government has launched an initiative entitled Join the Game, designed to attract British games development talent if Brexit should take place.

Join the Game’s pitch says: “Gaming – a major industry combining high-end artistic creativity and the best in technological innovation – has a long history in France. Proud of its history and dedicated to becoming the leading country in this industry, France has aimed, over the years, to remain an important hub for game development. Having doubts about why setting up in France? “Join the Game” illustrates the French government’s commitment to offer foreign publishers and developers – studios and independents – opportunities to discover the optimal environment to excel.”

The Join the Game website points out the various tax credits and grants that developers can apply for in France, most notably the country’s games industry tax breaks scheme, dubbed the CIJV: “The CIJV plays an essential role in the cost competitiveness of the French market. With its grant of €40 million in 2017, it has contributed to the creation of many emblematic productions and supported more than 200 projects across 100 companies such as Ubisoft, Arkane, DontNod, Cyanide, Quantic Dream, Ankama, Gumi Europe.”

Join the Game adds that the French Government offers grants and loans for the creation of original IP, prototype production, research and development and promotional events. The UK Government also offers tax relief for videogames companies, in line with the tax breaks offered to the film industry. But if Brexit – especially a no-deal Brexit – were to take place, uncertainty would prevail in all areas of UK government.

As a report by industry body Ukie makes clear, the UK games industry, despite currently enjoying a period of great success, is still suffering from a shortage of skilled recruits, which would be exacerbated if British developers opt to relocate to France.

The UK games industry is so worried about the prospect of Brexit that it set up an anti-Brexit lobbying organisation entitled Games4EU. And the French Government’s entirely understandable attempt to institute a post-Brexit land-grab on UK developers comes hot on the heels of the news that the biggest French publisher, Ubisoft, will set its forthcoming Watch Dogs Legion in a post-Brexit London riven by anarchy and authoritarianism.

Recently, Ukie made a statement on the threat of a no-deal Brexit: “After the Government’s defeat on the Brexit deal and subsequent slim victory in the vote of confidence in Parliament this week the threat of a No-Deal still remains and should be categorically ruled out as an option. We reiterate the need for a clear way forward for businesses and for clarity and confidence from the Government. Stability and effective leadership are crucial in terms of ensuring that there is the right environment for video games companies to be able to continue to make and market successful games in the UK.”

Whether Brexit will decimate the UK games industry, while benefiting the French games industry remains to be seen. But if you’re worried about the potential effect of Brexit n the UK games industry, keep an eye on Ukie’s website.