Kiwi games industry keeps surging - up 13pc

By Aimee Shaw

A scene from the game  'The Aetherlight'   created by Auckland-based Scarlett City Studios.
A scene from the game 'The Aetherlight' created by Auckland-based Scarlett City Studios.

New Zealand's game development industry is now worth more than $88 million, up 13 per cent in the year ending March.

A survey of 38 studio members of the New Zealand Game Developers Association found 92 per cent of all industry revenue came from exports.

New Zealand Game Developers Association chairperson Stephen Knightly said entertainment software and apps continued to be one of the fastest growing hi-tech creative exports.

"The successful New Zealand studios have consistently grown their audiences and attracted fans around the world. They've become sustainable independent publishers and proven that they are not one-hit wonders but are smart digital exporters," Knightly said.

Despite the closure of the country's largest studio, Gameloft New Zealand, the industry continues to see strong growth. While 150 Gameloft workers lost their jobs, employment in the sector decreased overall by just 93 full-time jobs to 475 in March.

"Gameloft's closure hasn't slowed the industry's growth and ultimately strengthened our ecosystem," Knightly said.

"The international investment from Gameloft provided professional experience and upskilling for many developers and artists, at a time when our rapid growth led to a shortage of experienced developers."

Knightly said many Gameloft employees quickly joined local studios or created startups.

New Zealand continues to be an attractive place for foreign investment, he said.

Growth of NZ game exports:

• 98 additional jobs predicted in 2016.
• Skills shortages are limiting growth for 47pc of studios.
• $89 million annual revenue.

The majority of New Zealand studios are locally-owned, with 68 per cent describing themselves as independent slef-publishers - a more sustainable business model than co-developing contract work.

While the industry is growing and seen as an attractive place for foreign investment, it is also facing challenges.

Gameloft's closure hasn't slowed the industry's growth and ultimately strengthened our ecosystem.

The survey found attracting early funding was a challenge for 48 per cent of studios, with capital expansion a challenge for 35 per cent.

Skills shortages, developing business skills, attracting international projects, accessing technology partners and employing diverse workers were cited as other challenges.

To address these issues the Game Developers Association has launched a $20,000 start up competition with Callaghan Innovation.

Entries close on August 15 with four finalists to pitch prototypes and business models to a panel of judges at AUT University on September 8-9.

- NZ Herald

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