Screen Queensland announces new funding for video game developers but industry says problems persist
Written on the 18 January 2018 by David Simmons
SCREEN Queensland, the Queensland Government's industry body for film and television, is expanding its programs into the realm of video games.
From Thursday, Queensland game developers can apply for support from Screen Queensland's Game Development and Marketing Investment.
The industry body is looking to sponsor game developers who want to create and market video games for an international market, according to Screen Queensland chair Catherine O'Sullivan.
"This is a ground-breaking initiative with Screen Queensland offering a significant level of funding to specifically meet the needs of the game industry," says O'Sullivan.
"Screen Queensland supports game developers as the foundation of a successful, innovative and sustainable industry."
Funding will be capped at $100,000 for experienced game developers, and at $50,000 for applicants who have not previously released a game. As expected, the process for this funding will be very competitive.
"Queensland is home to a healthy gaming industry and this funding will invest in locally developed games with the potential for critical acclaim and commercial success."
Despite the industry's growth and support from programs like Screen Queensland's latest announcement, developers still feel let down by the government.
2017 was another strong year for the video games industry in Australia, with Aussie developers generating $118.5 million in the 2016-17 financial year.
According to the latest study conducted by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) a lack of government support is the top issue developers have with the sector as a whole.
According to the IGEA report 80 per cent of revenue generated by Australian studios came from overseas, with the US the biggest market for Aussie content.
Ron Curry, the CEO of IGEA says this number is emblematic of developers' frustrations.
"The survey shows that Australian game developers are continuing to push themselves to grow and succeed," says Curry.
"We represent an industry that's creative, highly innovative and export-focused."
When asked in the IGEA survey about the main challenges facing their industry, half of respondents cited the lack of government funding as stressful or very stressful. Only seven per cent said it was not a problem.
"The global games market generates more than US$100 billion each year," says Curry.
"Already, 80 per cent of the income generated by Australian developers comes from overseas sources. The local industry is making gains and contributing millions to the Australian economy imagine how much more could be achieved if the government acknowledged us."
Other challenges troubling developers include the difficulty of attracting early-stage development funding and investment for expansion.
Skill shortages are also a common concern, with a number of respondents believing changing the rules around 457 work visas could assist their business and employees.
The sector is also suffering heavily from underrepresentation of females. Only 18 per cent of employees in the sector identify as female. 48 per cent of respondents said they consider experience, qualifications, and diversity equally.
Curry says acknowledgement that video games are not just for teenage boys anymore could go a long way to proving an Australian industry needs to be supported.
"Games are increasingly being used purposefully in areas including aged care, the workplace, health, and education," says Curry.
"Games are not only important economically, they're also embedded in Australian culture as a favourite pastime with 67 per cent of all Australians playing video games."
Applications for the Screen Queensland grant close on 16 February 2018, so if you want to be the next Halfbrick you'd best get a wriggle on.
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons