Warwickshire's gaming and digital sector defying Brexit concerns
Warwickshire's global reputation as a leader of the gaming and digital sectors has weathered the 'Brexit effect' with businesses continuing to relocate to the county.
Businesses in all sectors are dealing with uncertainty surrounding the UK's impending withdrawal from the EU with some people concerned that overseas companies will be deterred from opening up in the UK.
But the appeal of the digital sector in Warwickshire, and specifically Leamington Spa, appears unimpaired with six new studios having opened here already since the start of 2017.
Copenhagen-based Hugo Games moved into the games incubator hub at 26 Hamilton Terrace, Leamington, in March while also recently into 26HT have come Maysalward. Jordan-based Maysalward have opened a studio and are currently recruiting to tap into the Warwickshire expertise to exploit the huge and rapidly-growing markets of the middle-east.
Meanwhile, Nottingham-based Lockwood Publishing, maker of 'Avakin Life', has opened a Leamington studio which will focus on strengthening the hugely popular mobile title. The project is being led by Ollie Clarke of Modern Dream who says: "Leamington is a hidden gem within the UK game development industry. It is a talent hotbed with 2,500 people working across multiple studios producing world class games across multiple platforms."
That message is endorsed by Gavin Raeburn, studio director of Playground Games, where recruitment of an additional 200 staff is planned for a new 20,000 sq ft expansion in the town centre.
"Leamington is a hugely important area for the digital gaming industry and we are the largest developer in the town," Gavin said."It is important that we keep attracting, as well as breeding, the best new talent in the industry."
The continuing flow of inward investment, to add to existing powerhouses such as Ubisoft, Codemasters and Sega already established in Leamington, suggests the Brexit effect has amounted, so far, to little or no effect.
Warwickshire County Council inward investment officer (digital) Sim Lee said: "Despite uncertainty in the UK game development scene, recent investments from studios such as Hugo Games and Lockwood Publishing demonstrates confidence in our reputation as a world-leading location for national and international studios. With support from ourselves and local partners, we provide assistance throughout the whole expansion process making the studios' journey as easy as possible.
"With over six new studios moving to Silicon Spa since the start of 2017, this brings the total number of studios in the cluster to over 60, higher than any other cluster in England outside London, and rivalling locations such as Shoreditch, Dundee and Brighton.
"All of the new studios are fantastic news for the area but that is not the end of the story. We realise that the next steps are to attract and produce the right talent and provide the right spaces for companies to grow.
"We are working closely with the developers of the Creative Quarter in Leamington to make sure studios' voices are heard and are also working with Warwick District Council and CWLEP to create a three-day games festival in January 2019 to showcase what we have on offer and get us into the UK games event calendar."