The apparent inevitability of Brexit and the havoc it seems likely to wreak has most people resigned to simply making the best of it. One rather large group of such people is the entire nation of France, which has launched a program called "Join the Game" aimed at promoting the country as an epicenter of game development, and enticing developers who, for one reason or another, might be looking to relocate in the near future.
The site doesn't make any specific references to Brexit that I've seen, but it does make a point of explicitly referencing France's commitment to the international community.
"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," it says. "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."
It also promises money—lots of money—in the form of tax credits and plentiful funding for development, R&D, "collective actions," and other activities. Moving from... somewhere else? There's a whole section dedicated to that, too, covering everything from French labor laws to rules of mobility and understanding the tax system.
And no such site would be complete with a rundown of France's already-impressive game development scene, a list that includes Cyanide, Spiders, Eugen Systems, Dontnod, Arkane, Amplitude, Quantic Dream, and the big boy on the block, Ubisoft, which in an ironic twist is currently making a game about a post-Brexit London that's become a surveillance state sewer. (No mention of Watch Dogs Legion is made on the Join the Game site, though—a little too on the nose, perhaps?)
Tax credits and government-backed investments are actually very common tools used by various levels of government to attract all sorts of different industries to their regions—remember when Ubisoft came to Canada a few years back looking for a hand with the Vivendi thing? But the specific circumstances around this particular program make it unique: It's not just a slightly sweeter deal on corporate taxes, but a full-on escape hatch from a potential catastrophe. If France really leans into this (and why wouldn't it?) I won't be at all surprised to see a cross-Channel exodus unfold over the next couple of years.
Thanks, The Guardian.
Update: The Empire strikes back: In response to the attention the "Join the Game" campaign has been getting, the UK's game industry trade organization Ukie issued a statement calling the country "one of the best places in the world to make and sell games."
"The sector has fought hard to earn that reputation over the course of decades, working in partnership with government to achieve that goal," Ukie CEO Dr. Jo Twist said. "However, that reputation can be eroded in a globally competitive industry. The emergence of a programme designed to poach talent and businesses from the UK should remind policy makers of this fact."
"At the moment, the UK government provides strong support to games businesses through Video Game Tax Relief, the UK Games Fund and our international trade programme. But continued uncertainty caused by Brexit and potential for disproportionate regulation of our industry without the support of a robust evidence base risks diminishing that positive approach—potentially turning talented individuals and businesses away from the UK."
"We must therefore continue to have a meaningful and constructive conversation between our sector and government to ensure we safeguard the position of our forward thinking, thriving creative sector."