While it waits for the Federal Government to follow up on the Future of Australian Video Games Development Industry Inquiry, a survey of Australian game developers found the industry generated $118.5 million in the 2016-17 financial year, up from $114.9 million the previous year, with 75 percent of studios surveyed projecting future growth.
According to the survey, conducted by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), 80 percent of revenue generated by local studios came from overseas, with the US and Europe the largest overseas markets for Australian-developed games.
Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA, said the survey results show that local game developers are continuing to “push themselves” to grow, with revenue in the 2015-16 financial sitting at $114.9 million.
“We represent an industry that’s creative, highly innovative and export-focused. Games are not only important economically, they’re also embedded in Australian culture as a favourite pastime with 67 per cent of all Australians playing video games. Further, games are increasingly being used purposefully in areas including aged care, the workplace, health and education,” he said.
The survey found that the local games development industry employs 928 people full time, with 33 percent programmers, 25 percent artists, and management, marketing, and administration roles each representing 12 percent of employees.
These numbers are projected to grow, with over half the studios surveyed stating they plan to employ more staff throughout the current financial year.
Reflecting on these numbers, Curry said, “The local industry is making gains and contributing millions to the Australian economy; imagine how much more could be achieved if the government acknowledged us.”
In looking at the challenges facing the industry, half the respondents surveyed stated that the lack of government funding is ‘stressful’ or ‘very stressful’, with just seven percent stating that it was not a problem.
The question of government support, or lack thereof, has been plaguing the industry since the cutting of the Interactive Games Fund by the Abbott government in 2014.
A Senate inquiry was held in 2015 and delivered in April 2016 with bipartisan support, with a number of recommendations put forward to help support the growth of the industry, including the reinstatement of the games development fund and the provision of financial support to coworking spaces.
A further two government committees have also since recommended that funding for the games development industry be reinstated.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had promised last year that the government would deliver a response to the inquiry by the end of 2017, however this deadline has been missed.
Despite the silence from the federal government, the Victorian government has supported its local games development industry through grants delivered by Film Victoria, while the South Australian government in November announced a $2 million fund to help build a games development hub in Adelaide.
With a $450,000 fit out, the hub will be operated by national network Game Plus, which also runs a games hub in Canberra, and comprise three offices and 29 hot desks for games development companies, with South Australia-based Mighty Kingdom announced as a tenant.
Another $1.3 million from the fund will help in the production and marketing of locally-made games, while $200,000 will go towards industry-specific skills development and education programs.
Screen Queensland also announced earlier this week that it is expanding its funding programs to include support for games developers. Up to $100,000 in funding will be available for ‘experienced’ developers, or $50,000 for those who have not yet released a game.
Image: Ron Curry, Raelene Castle, Jonny Roses of IGEA. Source: IGEA.