SYDNEY, Australia – 6 May 2020 – The Australian video games industry is proving to be largely resilient to the effects of COVID-19 in contrast to other sectors, according to the latest survey by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA).
As a digitally and technologically focused industry, the video games sector has avoided many of the flow-on effects from self-isolation measures due to the global pandemic. Australian game developers have been able to continue working despite the lockdown measures to create, publish and sell games, with the majority of new game sales being digital.
The strongest indicator of the sector’s resilience was the finding that 84% of respondents are not planning to make any staff cutbacks or redundancies in the immediate term. Many developers and publishers with product currently in market are benefitting from surging demand for their existing portfolios from customers and additional demand for new sources of entertainment while in lockdown, not only in Australia but around the world.
Additional indicators of confidence include 44% of surveyed developers reporting stable or increased sales revenues, along with 62% reporting costs are remaining static. Overall, 55% of respondences are confident for the foreseeable future.
The industry has also adapted quickly to remote working arrangements. 71% reported they have successfully transitioned to working from home with another 22% reporting they were already operating remotely.
However, the survey results paint a mixed picture of successes and challenges depending on the size and maturity of the business. The transition to remote working has often come with an impact on productivity, with 58% of respondents stating that operations are more difficult.
Increased revenues and a confident outlook into the future are countered by concerns around cash flow, access to contracts and publisher deals, and the cancellation of product and event launches.
In particular, smaller to medium-sized studios face a level of uncertainty, while fearing financial hardship. Almost a third of surveyed developers reported reduced revenues due to the loss or delays to contracts. A quarter of respondents are worried about cash flow issues if current conditions last for another six months. A quarter also explained that they had serious concerns about the future and yet another quarter expressed concern about the year ahead in terms of staff cutbacks.
The co-creative, collaborative nature of digital games development has the potential to re-deploy thousands of unemployed workers from the film and TV industry, which has close to half a billion dollars in production budgets on hold as a result of the local emergence of coronavirus.
“IGEA’s latest survey findings are a reminder that while our industry may be more resilient than many, it has not been immune to COVID-19 and should not be ignored when implementing arts, creative and screen stimulus measures,” said Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA.
“There is a strong opportunity for video games to support Australia in exporting itself out of this crisis, as already 83% of the industry’s income is generated overseas. This is not a time for complacency in making Australia competitive in global games content.
“Creating jobs during this pandemic-induced period of vast economic destruction is worthy of speedy government consideration for further assistance during this time of crisis.”
Games have the capacity to carry the broader creative industries and screen sector during major disruptions and with the correct and equitable levers can assist in diversifying the Australian economy with forward-looking, digital skills that exist at the exciting intersection of creativity and high-tech.
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IGEA is an industry association representing the business and public policy interests of Australian and New Zealand companies in the computer and video games industry. IGEA’s members publish, develop, market and/or distribute interactive games and entertainment content and related hardware including mobile and handheld games. For more information, please visit www.igea.net.
Notes about the survey
The survey was circulated to Australian game development studios with results collected between 1 and 17 April 2020. The number of respondents was 49.