WA gets in on game grants with $2m pilot funding


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Western Australian Government will provide $2 million in pilot funding to the state’s video game developers, and fly five local studios to Germany this month for the world’s largest games conference.

The support, announced on Monday, comes after several other states launched similar funding programs for small games studios, while larger ones keenly await the Australia’s Digital Games Tax Offset (DGTO) through the federal government.

Culture and arts minister David Templeman (centre) and Screenwest chief executive Rikki Lea Bestall (right). Image: Screenwest

Screenwest will administer the newest state funding program, under a new Games and Interactive incentive, with applications open “later this year”.

In a statement, Screenwest said the funding would be for content and capability development, as well as “strategic industry building opportunities”.

Western Australia’s program is aimed at helping the state’s small studios’ pilot projects, to eventually access the larger federal program.

The DGTO offers a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for eligible business that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying expenditure.

The federal initiative has been warmly welcomed by the Australian games sector and envied by New Zealand, which is wary of a video games brain drain across the ditch.

The previous Coalition government failed to introduce legislation for the DGTO, leaving its immediate future unclear, but the industry believes it has bipartisan support for the program.

The Western Australian government will also provide a $50,000 grant to send five of the state’s games studios to Gamescom 2022 in Germany later this month.

Black Lab, Hungry Sky, Big Bench Games, SpaceDraft and EarthLingo will attend the event alongside Screenwest officials and members of the industry group the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA).

Western Australian culture and the arts minister David Templeman said the event will provide valuable networking opportunities for the local sector.

“The games and interactive technology industry can provide significant economic and cultural benefits to WA,” he said in a statement.

“Games and immersive technologies present a major opportunity for economic diversification of the State, as identified in the Diversify WA economic development framework.”

Screen Australia last month provided $4 million worth of grants to indie video game developers, expanding the funding round after high demand.

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