Promising growth for Kiwi game makers

Chopper 2 sold over 100,000 copies in a week. Photo / Supplied
Chopper 2 sold over 100,000 copies in a week. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand video game development is rapidly gaining momentum, with a new report showing an impressive 46pc growth for the industry.

There were 114 game development jobs created in the last 12 months, and the industry now employs 359 full-time people, according to a survey by the New Zealand Game Developers Association.

In the next 12 months, another 99 jobs are likely to be created by local game studios - including around 40 programmers and 40 artists.

"New Zealand games studios are export businesses, employing highly skilled technical and creative staff, creating original game ideas and increasingly retaining that intellectual property in New Zealand," said NZGDA chairperson Stephen Knightly.

"Globally, the games industry already earns more than Hollywood and local developers are getting their share of that pie," says Knightly.

Gartner research says the global gaming industry will earn over US$74bn this year.

There were 21 game studios involved in the local survey, with 59 video games in development between them.

The smartphone boom has benefitted New Zealand's fledgling industry, with 73 per cent of studios having produced iPhone games, 42pc browser games and 35pc Android games.

Downloadable PC games were produced by 35pc of the studios, with only 30 developing for next-generation consoles like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

"Online, smartphone and indie games may not have the advertising budgets of large console games, but they're the fastest growing segments of the games business," Knightly said.

"Our distance from the rest of the world meant that New Zealand game developers were early adopters of online digital distribution and self-publishing, and we're seeing the positive results of that investment now," says Knightly.

Kiwi gaming successes

Shatter by Wellington-based Sidhe, rated top PSN game by ign.com.

Bloons by Auckland's Ninja Kiwi, with a spin-off version Bloons Tower Defence 4 selling over a million copies on the iOS platform.

Small Worlds, a social game with over seven million players.

Chopper 2 by Majic Jungle sold over 100,000 in a week on the Apple App Store.

Sparx, which won a UN World Summit Award for its interactive take on managing depression in teens.

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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