Denham Sadler
February 12, 2018

State boost for games black hole

State boost for games black hole

Rundle Mall: Adelaide to take its share of the games development sector in Australia

South Australia has revealed the details of its $2 million local games development fund as state governments look to step in for the federal government’s reduced support for the sector.

The South Australian games fund was first announced last November, with Innovation Minister Kyam Maher outlining how the money would be allocated late last week.

From the fund, $450,000 would be invested in Games Plus, a games development co-working space in Adelaide which aims to be a “hub for digital entrepreneurs to co-locate and share knowledge, resources and opportunities”.

The rest of the fund would be allocated for three different tiers of grants for games development studios in the state.

For production, between $15,000 and $50,000 is on offer for studios to employ extra team members, buy hardware or software and cover other costs associated with creating new games. This government dollars would be matched by the recipient on a 2:1 basis.

The marketing grant would go towards the development and execution of marketing plans for already developed games, with up to $15,000 up for grabs.

The skills development grant will give up to $20,000 for conference attendance and speaker events to “help game developers remain innovative and competitive, and to grow capability in the industry through training, scholarships, mentorships and event sponsorship”.

Mr Maher said up to 500 jobs could be created in the games development industry in South Australia over the next three years.

“South Australia has a vibrant game development scene and this new strategy will support or small games enterprises to test their ideas in Adelaide, tap into new markets and remain globally competitive in this multi-billion dollar industry,” Mr Maher said.

The policy aims to attract games development studios from around the country and the world to South Australia.

“It will help us attract more global entertainment giants like Technicolor to conduct business here. I encourage all game developers living abroad or around Australia to look to South Australia to explore and test new ideas,” Mr Maher said.

The initiative has the backing of the Interactive Games and Entertainment,

“Supporting collaborative working spaces and providing game developers with a hand-up has been a proven and successful formula in other states and in the absence of any support Federally, is an incredibly useful starting point to grow the industry and allow it to compete both nationally and internationally,” IGEA CE chief executive Ron Curry told InnovationAus.com.

It has been left to state governments to pick up the slack left by the federal government following its lack of support for the games sector since the $20 million games development fund was scrapped in 2014.

This was compounded by the federal government’s long-awaited response to a senate inquiry into the local sector, which rejected nearly all of the industry-supported recommendations.

The government declined to reinstate the games development fund, and “noted” or rejected the other recommendations. It also placed the responsibility on state governments to fund the creation of co-working spaces for the sector.

“Operating in a complex environment, access to interconnected resources and capabilities can increase the strength of the creative industries’ often small and independent businesses. State governments are best placed to offer such initiatives due to the nature of partnerships required to develop shared working spaces,” the government said in its response.

The response was widely panned by the industry, with fears that developers will now be forced to move overseas to gain much-needed support and funding.

State governments have stepped in to stem this brain drain overseas, with South Australia the latest to announce targeted funding.

Victoria has been leading the way in this regard, with its range of funding options for the sector meaning that more than half the sector now resides in Melbourne.

Through Film Victoria, the state government offers two different grants for game development: the production investment of up to $150,000 and the games release grant of up to $30,000.

Queensland, the ACT, and Tasmania also offer funding for games development through screen or arts agencies, although less targeted than in Victoria.

Screen Queensland operates the games development and marketing investment which is capped at $100,000 for experienced developers and $50,000 for first-timers.

There is no direct state government support for the games development sector in New South Wales.

Despite the growing support from state governments, the federal government’s lack of interest in the sector will be hugely damaging, Opaque Media Group director Emre Deniz said.

“It should not be left to the states to pick up the slack to keep these businesses competitive,” Mr Deniz told InnovationAus.com.

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