Australian Game Developers March On, Generating $118.5M In Spite of Limited Recognition and Support

Credit: Ruslan Olinchuk | Dreamstime

The Australian video game development industry continues to flourish, despite minimal recognition from the federal government, a survey of local game developers has shown.

According to the survey undertaken for the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA), the Australian game development industry generated $118.5 million in the 2016-17 financial year, with three-quarters of the studios surveyed projecting growth.

“The survey shows that Australian game developers are continuing to push themselves to grow and succeed,” said Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA.

“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 ages care, the workplace, health and education.”

The local industry employed 928 full-time equivalents, of which programmers (33%), artists (25%) and management, marketing and administration made up the majority.

Fifty-three per cent of the companies surveyed said they plan to employ additional staff during the current financial year.  

The largest overseas market for Australian-developed content is the US, followed by Europe. Eighty per cent of the revenue generated by Australian studios came from overseas.

However, despite the industries modest growth and proven value to the Australian economy and screen sector, the industry continues to fight for recognition, acknowledgment and support from the federal government. When asked about the main challenges facing their industry, half of respondents considered the lack of government funding as stressful or very stressful, while only 7% said it was not a problem.

“The global games market generates more than US$100 billion each year,” said Curry. “Already, 80 per cent of the income generated by Australian developers comes from overseas resources. 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.”

Other challenges for developers include attracting early-stage development funding and investment for expansion. Skill shortages are also a common concern, with a number of respondents believing changes to the 457 work visa will affect their business and/or employees. Local studios also noted the availability, cost and performance of the National Broadband Network and an ongoing problem.

The study also found that Australian studios care about intellectual property, with more than half (55%) of respondents exclusively developing their own IP. A further 37% develop their own IP alongside producing games and services for clients.

For more information, visit www.igea.net

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