Dear Minister Harwin,
Open letter on the NSW Government’s lack of support for local video game development
I am the CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, which represents the Australian video games industry. We are headquartered in NSW and proudly include in our membership several NSW game development studios, including 3rd Sense, Blowfish Studios, Chaos Theory Games, Reach Game Studios, SMG Studio, Spirit Animal and Wargaming.
Our response to your comments concerning the NSW screen industry.
I noted with interest your response to a question you were asked in the Legislative Council on Wednesday 17 March about the NSW screen production industry.
In your response, you highlighted how the NSW Government is attracting screen production to NSW, how the Made in NSW fund is a “shot in the arm for the NSW screen sector”, how the NSW screen sector is “the screen capital of Australia”, and how the “NSW screen industry is booming”.
Unfortunately, there were some inaccuracies in your response, which I would like to respectfully bring to your attention.
- First, when you refer to the state’s support and attraction of screen production, please be aware that NSW currently only supports a part of the screen industry – film and TV production. Not one dollar of any NSW Government screen funding supports video game development, which globally represents the largest part of the screen industry (and is close to three times the size of the global film sector).
- The NSW Government’s Made in NSW fund may have provided a shot in the arm for the state’s film and TV sector, but it did not provide anything for video game development. NSW video game developers are excluded from accessing the ‘Made in NSW’ fund in the same way it is excluded from all NSW screen funding despite video games being as much of a creative screen medium as film or TV.
- While NSW may arguably be the film and TV “capital of Australia”, the same sadly cannot be said of video game development. NSW has fewer than half the number of video game development studios – or fulltime game development workers – as Victoria. NSW has fewer studios than Queensland, and only marginally more than South Australia. NSW is rapidly being left behind in its share of the world’s largest and fastest-growing screen production industry.
- The NSW game development industry is not nearly as booming as it should be. Why is this so? To start, NSW is the only state that does not, or has not recently, provided any support for video game development as part of its screen incentives. Investment in NSW’s video games industry, which could be far greater than the scale of investment in film and TV, is going elsewhere. For example, in 2019, Sledgehammer Games chose Victoria over NSW as its home, and is now one of Australia’s largest and fastest-growing game development studios.
What we are calling on you to address
Minister Harwin, on behalf of our NSW-based members, we call on you to provide support for your state’s video game developers in the same way that you provide support for film and TV. Specifically, we call on you to allow NSW game developers to compete for at least some of the screen production funding administered by Screen NSW. We also call on you to make game development eligible for the 10% PDV rebate, which support a sector that is not only adjacent to ours, but shares the same digital technology, workforce and export-focus as us.
As an immediate next step, we are asking you to meet with us to discuss the high-potential game development industry in NSW, and to allow us to give you a tour of the great studios here. Our members can show you the artistic and highly export-friendly video games that they make, and the highly trained and future-proofed digital workforce that will come with a vibrant and well-supported game development sector in NSW.
While unfortunately we have previously been unable to secure a meeting with you, we are hopeful that this will change and I look forward to hearing from you or your office soon. You can contact me at email@example.com, or IGEA’s Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Ben Au, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This letter has been emailed and sent to you in hard copy and has been published on our website as an open letter. I have enclosed in this letter our latest research providing a snapshot of the Australian video game development industry.