A “slice of Silicon Valley” has opened in Melbourne, providing a new base for the state’s burgeoning games industry.
The Arcade is a co-working space dedicated to digital games, animation and the tech industries that opened in 2013, but thanks to funding from the Victorian government, it has now expanded into new premises in South Melbourne.
At 2000 square metres, the new space is more than four times larger than its previous space, and already plays home to 34 companies.
The Arcade now lays claim to being the largest co-working space in the country dedicated to the games industry.
Martin Foley, Minister for Creative Industries, officially opened the new building this week.
“The Arcade is a slice of Silicon Valley in South Melbourne,” Foley said.
“It supports local games businesses to get to the next level and we are proud to back it as part of our commitment to supporting the jobs and industries of the future.”
The co-working space will house game developers, 3D animators and coders, and is already home to Academy Award and BAFTA winners. It will also provide hot desking for smaller and independent games developers and studios.
A permanent desk in the new building costs $434.72 per month, while a one-day hot desk will set you back $33.
The Arcade was first opened more than four years ago, with its initial premises encompassing 550 square metres and playing home to 12 resident organisations.
Its current residents include Tin Man Games and Hipster Whale, the makers of popular game Crossy Road.
The Arcade bills itself as a space where “Oscar and BAFTA winners mix with students” and where “companies with multimillion dollar turnovers share their skills with startups”.
The organisation claims that a number of its residents have relocated from around Australia to The Arcade, while a number of “significant international players” also have a regional outpost in the space.
According to a recent study, Melbourne is home to more than half of Australia’s game studios. The sector has received little support from the federal government, with the industry still waiting to a response from the government to a senate inquiry report released in April last year. The report recommended that the government reinstate its support and funding for the sector.
The industry is still recovering from the 2014 budget, where the $20 million Australian Interactive Games Fund was completely axed.
But the Victorian government has made moves to capitalise on the growing industry, Foley said
“Victoria is the only state to have consistently invested in the games industry for more than 20 years, and we are ramping this up,” he said.
“Digital games are the fastest growing global entertainment sector, and our local industry is taking on the world. Games created in the Arcade are played by more than 100 million people across the globe every day.”
The Australian games industry is estimated to have earned $115 million in revenue in 2015-16, with the large majority of this coming from overseas. It is said to have employed nearly 900 people by mid-2016, with nearly 80 per cent of developers projecting business growth in the next year.
The Victorian government handed out $654,000 to nine local games studios in June to develop new digital games, including in the virtual reality space.
“This funding supports a wide range of projects that showcase the diversity of our industry,” Foley said at the time.
“By investing in games, we are investing in the jobs and industries of thee future and boosting our reputation as the creative state.”