Game developers will benefit from a $20 million fund unveiled by the Federal Government, on the back of research showing consumers spent $1.5 billion on interactive games last year.
The Australian Interactive Games Fund, launched by Arts Minister Simon Crean in Melbourne today, will see the government commit $20 million to the gaming sector over three years.
Screen Australia will develop the funding guidelines in consultation with the sector and administer the fund.
The fund will commence in 2012-13, delivering $5 million per annum in the first and second years, and jumping to $10 million in 2014-15.
“This $20 million fund will help build a sustainable base for the Australian interactive entertainment industry to… grow in a global market expected to reach $90.1 billion by 2015,” Crean said in a statement.
“The local industry is coming under increased pressure in the midst of a major market shift. This fund will assist the sector to reclaim their competitive advantage and support the development of games in Australia.”
The gaming sector is, in many ways, the natural extension of film, Crean said.
“On Tuesday I visited the Fox Studios set of The Wolverine in Sydney, which as a franchise has been adapted on almost every gaming platform,” he said.
“The sector is a major employer, and local start-up companies like Melbourne-based Voxel Agents have seen their Train Conductor series downloaded more than five million times.”
“More established companies like Brisbane’s Halfbrick Studios had their game Fruit Ninja downloaded 300 million times.”
“Australians are significant consumers of interactive games, spending some $1.5 billion last year in retail sales, and with 92% of households owning a device for games.”
Tony Reed, chief executive of the Game Developers’ Association of Australia, welcomed the news, describing it as “fantastic” for the Australian game development industry.
“The games industry has gone beyond the entertainment space with games now used in education, healthcare and training,” Reed says.
“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to create a program that… encourages innovation and creativity, and promotes investment in Australian talent.