The Australian game development sector is enjoying rapid growth on the back of unprecedented government support, with almost 800 new jobs created in the last year alone.
The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) released its sixth annual Australian Game Development Survey this week, revealing that the sector has more than doubled in size over the last six years.
According to the survey, there has been a 26 per cent increase in revenue generated by the game development sector compared to last year, with $284.4 million generated by studios in 2021-22.
There are now more than 2,100 full-time employees in the sector, a near-60 per cent increase compared to 2021-22.
On top of this, just under 70 per cent of the games studios surveyed said they plan to hire new staff in the next year, equating to more than 300 new jobs in the sector.
IGEA CEO Ron Curry hailed the strong performance of the sector in Australia.
“The growth in revenue, employment and confidence in the local game development sector is fantastic,” Curry said.
“Businesses are maturing, studios are performing well, development teams are expanding, and international companies and investors are taking notice of Australia.
“State and federal governments are recognising the positive impact the local games industry has on the economy and are supporting the sector with tangible benefits such as the federal government’s digital games tax offset.”
The survey found that 770 new jobs have been created by the game development sector in the last year, and this is likely to only increase going forward thanks to increased revenue from existing and new products, and significantly increased support from governments.
Since the first iteration of the IGEA survey in 2016, the sector has enjoyed a near-150 per cent increase in revenue, with studios posting 26 per cent growth year-on-year.
The sector is also becoming more established, with 80 per cent of studios and those in the sector having created at least one game. One quarter of the studios surveyed were less than five years old, 48 per cent were between six and nine years old, while just under 30 per cent are a decade or more old.
“We see smaller studios comfortably expand into medium-sized studios, and larger studios grow to over 100 employees,” Curry said.
“Australia finally has the capacity to build and nurture a thriving games industry and game development ecosystem; however, these expanding studios are facing the key hurdles of gaining access to mid-to-senior talent, which is essential for these expanding studios and dedicated financial support.”
Game developers reported that the greatest challenge they faced in the last year was hiring employees with specialised skills, with programmers and engineers being the most in demand.
“To immediately address skills shortages in the local industry, we need to tap into overseas talent,” Curry said.
“Recent improvements to the worker migration system, commitment to the local games industry and the abundance of opportunity available offer strong reasons for skilled migrants to choose Australia.
“We also need to consider our future pipeline of talent. Students and school leavers should consider the games industry as part of their career path as it offers a diverse range of roles and pathways into other industries such as healthcare, technology and resources, all with huge global opportunities.”
It’s been a huge year for the Australian game development sector. Legislation introducing a landmark 30 per cent tax offset for the sector passed the House of Representatives in November, and is set to pass Parliament after a committee report is handed down early next year.
The Digital Games Tax Offset will provide a 30 per cent tax incentive to local video game developers working on projects worth $500,000 or more.
It will apply to specific development, porting or ongoing development costs, rather than indirect costs of running a studio, and will be capped at $20 million per company per year.
The offset will apply to expenditure incurred from the start of the 2022-23 financial year.