After weathering the global financial crisis, job cuts and dropping retail sales, ten Australian game development companies have been awarded A$6 million in government funding. The developers chosen were Defiant Development, ODD Games, Soap Creative, Tantalus Media, Tin Man Games, Torus Games, Twiitch, Uppercut Games, The Voxel Agents and Wicked Witch Software.
The funds are the first of a three-year A$20 million investment package announced in 2012 to bolster the ailing Australian games industry. Recent data released by Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that number of people employed in domestic game development has fallen from a peak of nearly 2,000 in 2009 to 581, or by roughly two-thirds.
Screen Australia’s Fiona Cameron says, “There’s been a seismic shift in the games industry here in Australia. We’ve seen all the international companies bar one or two flee and close behind them of course has been the workforce.”
In addition, 2012 sales figures announced by Australia’s Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) showed a sharp 23 per cent drop in Australian retail revenues, down to A$1.161 billion.
But IGEA’s Ron Curry notes, “As Australians consume video games across a broader range of mediums, it’s becoming harder to get a true indication of the value of the industry via a single source. While there is a decline in traditional sales, the gaming industry as a whole remains buoyant as people shift towards a ‘hybrid’ model in their consumption of interactive entertainment.”
Strengthening Curry’s statement, domestic analyst Telsyte estimates digital sales and subscriptions in 2012 rose to A$730 million as consumers shifted to digital downloads and mobile games, more than covering last year’s fall in game purchases at retail outlets.
Cameron also points out that the dramatic rise of smartphones and games are drawing a much larger audience, “The games sector is outstripping all other media and entertainment sectors. Games are mainstream. We’re all playing them. 92 per cent of households have a game device. The average age for a gamer is 32 and more importantly, 47 per cent of gamers are now women.”