Govt pledges $12m to restore interactive games fund

The Albanese government will restore the Australian Interactive Games Fund (AIGF) almost a decade after it was cut by the former Abbott government, pledging an initial investment of $12 million to support game developers.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Arts minister Tony Burke announced the return of the interactive games development fund on Monday as part of the government’s five-year national cultural policy, dubbed Revive.

“All forms of storytellers now – whether its narrative, visual art, music, acting – are finding themselves jobs in the video games industry,” Minister Burke said announcing the policy in Melbourne.

Arts minister Tony Burke will restore the Australian Interactive Games Fund. Image: Facebook.

“When you’ve got an industry expanding like this around the world, [Screen Australia] shouldn’t be left trying to check if there’s some spare change in the back of the lounge to fund this rapidly growing $4 billion-dollar sector.

“So, we’ll restore the Games Fund for Screen Australia that was abolished nearly 10 years ago.”

Screen Australia will use the $12 million to “increase investment to support digital games developers and small and medium independent games studios”, according to the policy, building on existing support through the Games: Expansion Pack fund.

The new funding commitment represents the first major funding package for the games industry since former Gillard government created the $20 million AIGF in 2013 to help the industry recover in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.

The Abbott government scrapped the AIGF in its first federal Budget in 2014 as part of wider cuts to Screen Australia and redirected the $10 million in unspent funds to help restore the Budget bottom-line.

At $12 million over five years, the Albanese government’s commitment to the AIGF in Revive is less than half the $25 million over three years pledged by Labor when it promised to restore the fund in 2019.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) welcomed the reinstatement of the AIGF, having advocated for the launch of such a fund in its August submission to the consultation on Revive.

“Not only is IGEA and the games industry celebrating the funding and further commitment from the Albanese government for the development sector, we are also delighted to see games positioned with the broader national cultural, screen and creative industry,” IGEA chief executive Ron Curry said.

“This commitment recognises that Australian game developers have an essential role to play in the digital delivery of stories to local and international audiences.

“We look forward to reading more details on the fund and will work with the great team at Screen Australia to educate the industry on accessing the support.”

The government also plans to use the Digital Games Tax Offset – a scheme devised by the former Morrison government and recycled by Labor – “to support growth in large‑scale games development in Australia” over the next five years.

The scheme will introduce a 30 per cent tax offset for companies that develop digital publicly available games in Australia to support the “emerging sector”, at a cost of $34.8 million to budget bottom line over four years.

Legislation to create the Digital Games Tax Offset is currently before Parliament, having been introduced as part of the omnibus Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 4) Bill in November.

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