Will the Australian Government support our video game industry?

Posted on June 13, 2017

In the midst of E3 it is certainly an exciting time to be a gamer, but in Australia it is definitely still a struggle to be a game developer.

Tomorrow, 14th June 2017 at 3pm (AEST), the Australian Government is due to give a response regarding its support for Australia’s faltering video game industry.

14 months since the report was delivered for consideration, the Senate has now passed a motion for the government to finally provide a response to the unanimous findings of the Environment and Communications References Committee report, Game on: more than playing around, The future of Australia’s video game development industry.

“The committee report made eight recommendations that impact a number of portfolios and, as such, requires careful consideration and development of a whole-of-government response.” said Senator James Mc Grath (Assistant Minister for the Prime Minister and Liberal National Party Senator for Queensland) today, suggestive that the 3pm deadline will pass without a response.

These eight recommendations spell out the needed future for Australia’s video game industry, which has suffered since the axing of the Australian Interactive Games Fund in 2014, only a year after the three year program was launched.  This fund was crucial for the success of many games, such as the hit portable title Fruit Ninja.

The eight recommendations of the Game on report are for the Australian Government to:

  1. Introduce a funding scheme based on the former Australian Interactive Games Fund.
  2. Introduce a refundable tax offset for Australian expenditure in the development of game titles.
  3. Encourage and contribute financial assistance for the creation of shared working spaces modelled on The Arcade in other locations, including a regional centre.  The Arcade is  Australia’s first not-for-profit, collaborative work space based in Melbourne created specifically for game developers and creative companies.
  4. Encourage the further uptake of ‘serious games’ in health care, education and other sectors.
  5. Consider the tax implication of crowd-sourced funding for startups.
  6. Develop a discussion paper and consult on the utility of the Export Market Development Grants scheme for businesses that operate in the digital economy.
  7. Take into account whether the video game industry is improving the diversity of its workforce and is providing fair employment conditions.
  8. Commit to rolling out 21st century broadband infrastructure.

Yes it is a fairly major wish list, but even a few of these would greatly benefit Australia’s video game developers, and full commitment would ensure Australia actually has a video game industry.

You can read a full copy of the report and its recommendations here.