Screen Australia has funded 31 new Australian-made video games with its latest round of grant money as the government prepares a significant tax offset for game developers.
Since being announced in March, Screen Australia’s funding round had been given a shot in the arm, going from $3 million to over $4 million.
Original games with budgets under $500,000 were eligible to receive the funding.
Lee Naimo, Screen Australia’s head of online, said the agency was impressed with the high quality of work being produced locally.
“We were blown away by the number of outstanding applications which have demonstrated the wealth of talented creatives and original ideas that are coming out of the Australian games sector,” he said.
“We’re excited to be back in this space and supporting Australian developers to continue to create distinctive games that find traction here and around the world, and help strengthen the local workforce.”
Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said the government was “committed to supporting the Australian digital games sector to create, innovate and flourish and achieve its full potential”.
A varied list of games will be funded through Screen Australia including visual novels, word games, rhythm games, deck builders, and puzzle games.
The games are in various stages of development and are typically built by small teams or solo developers such as Violet LeBeaux whose casual life simulator about moving to a big city, Moonlight in Garland, has also been supported by the Victorian Government's screen development agency, VicScreen.
There are also multiplayer first-person games like 2Bit Studios’s Planetation, a farming and crafting game set on an alien world that will soon be available for beta testing.
More experimental games like Totem Teller, a game that its developers describe as “pensive and deeply philosophical” have been hand-picked by Screen Australia to receive funding.
Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), said the additional allocated money for these small projects was much needed in a local industry that is still building its talent pool.
“This will result in growth in employment, promotion of digital and screen skills development, plus increased revenue for the highly talented and reputable Australian game development industry.”
Australian video game developers will soon benefit from the previous government’s Digital Games Tax Offset which is expected to be legislated this year.
It will provide positive reinforcement for larger studios based in Australia by giving a 30 per cent refundable tax offset to companies that spend at least $500,000 on game development and will even count expenditure that occurs after a game’s release.
The tax offset and increased support for Australian video game creators has the New Zealand government on the back foot as it stays “mindful of Australian competition” and considers how to keep developers on its side of the ditch.