Gaming is a huge industry globally. It is expected to be worth in the region of $321 billion by 2026, combining for a bigger figure than the movie and music industries when added together. One location where the gaming sector is rather big is in Australia.
According to available data, more than 90% of Australian households own one or more video game devices. More than 66% of the population regularly play video games, with the industry noted to play a significant and influential role on contemporary Australian culture.
It is not just video games that have proven popular Down Under, though. There has been a huge interest in online gaming, with many enjoying casino gaming. 48% of men in the country and 28% of women who gamble do so weekly, with scratches and pokies among the favoured options.
Naturally, these statistics across various gaming niches have led to interest from developers. They have spotted that there is a huge opportunity for them to be able to try and generate revenues, despite the fact that the industry is incredibly competitive. However, not just the game makers want a slice of the pie that is on offer.
Australian Government interested in the gaming industry
The Australian Government is extremely interested in the sector, and there have been notable instances in which they have shown it. They have tried to encourage domestic game developers from the grassroots level, as they look to try and give them the best opportunity of success.
There are two schemes that are open to developers of all sizes and regardless of how established they are: the Games: Expansion Pack and the Digital Games Tax Offset.
The Games: Expansion Pack
Screen Australia, the government-funded screen production industry body, introduced the Games: Expansion Pack in March 2022 as an initiative designed to directly fund Australian game developers. Developers eligible for grant can receive up to AU$150,000; this grant covers all platforms provided their budget falls below AU$500,000. It runs until 2024 with over AU$6 Million already committed.
This program has been designed with first-time developers in mind, as it can help them navigate a number of financial hurdles that are not always visible. This can include staff costs, renting of premises, or even the ongoing cost of development.
The Digital Games Tax Offset
Digital Games Tax Offset was announced almost 12 months prior to Game: Expansion Pack release and was proposed in May 2021 as a Treasury bill in Australia. Described by many game developers as one of the best incentives ever seen worldwide, this measure became law as of November 2022.
The program’s premise is to offer Australian game development projects that could earn or have resources of over AU$500,000 the ability to claim a refundable tax offset of up to 30%, thus encouraging them to enter the market and develop game titles. With an AU$20 million cap per annum, Australian games studios can submit up to AU$66.7 million for a yearly tax offset claim.
Since the scheme was announced, more than AU$609 million has been invested across the country’s gaming industry, with numerous venture capital leaders and companies, including Lego Ventures, Makers Fund, Team 17, and Tencent all on board.
There have already been notable examples of success regarding the impact that the new support schemes have had across the Australian gaming industry. Massive Monster – a Melbourne-based game studio – was able to generate huge success with their Animal Crossing-style ‘Cult of the Lamb’ title when they launched it in 2022, while Modern Storyline (also from Melbourne) had success a year prior when they released their ‘The Forgotten City’ title. It earned them a BAFTA nomination, with it being a full video game adaptation of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
With these successes having been achieved, it will have only encouraged other developers that they have a chance of potentially recording success themselves.
Australia has always competed in the gaming industry
While they can be considered to be relatively small in comparison to other countries, Australia has always been able to enjoy huge success. Despite the likes of China, the US, and even Japan being established in the industry, Australian titles and game developers have been able to produce some of the most influential titles across the sector in recent years.
With the schemes mentioned earlier in place, it would not be a surprise if they were to continue to “punch above their perceived weight” and continue to challenge the biggest players in the sector. With the government backing them financially and looking to make a splash, this industry’s future looks bright and is certainly worth keeping a close eye on in the coming years.