Government pledges support for games developers

child coder boy with computer gaming children laptop
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Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford has promised support for New Zealand’s computer game sector. The minister said the government will explore, in partnership with industry, the best way to support New Zealand’s interactive media sector through the future development of a creative industries Industry Transformation Plan.

“Growing these kinds of industries is a key objective of the Government’s Industry Strategy,” he said.

“We are also helping the industry directly address its skill shortages through our reform of vocational education. The game development industry will for the first time be able to influence training and the type of courses offered by vocational education providers through the formation of new Work Development Councils."

Twyford’s comments follow release by the NZ Game Developers Association of its annual industry survey which, it said showed New Zealand interactive game developers had earned $203.4m during the 2019 financial year - double the $99.9m earned only in 2017, with 96 percent of this from exports.

In August last year the association released a report, Interactive Aotearoa: Driving Growth And Wellbeing Through Interactive Media, into the social, educational and economic benefits of interactive media, calling for an industry development plan saying it could create a billion dollar export industry by 2024.

In July last year the government released Growing innovative industries in New Zealand: From the knowledge wave to the digital age, a report outlining “the new strategic direction for industry policy and chart[ing] the challenges and opportunities the New Zealand economy is responding to.”

The government said growing innovative industries was a key focus of its broader economic strategy.

This was followed, in November by Digital technology Industry Transformation Plan: scoping document, setting out “the scope of the Industry Transformation Plan for the digital technologies sector.

Neither document makes any mention of plans for the gaming industry.

NZGDA’s 2019 survey reported:

  • The ten largest studios earned 93 percent of the total revenue, employed 77 percent of the workforce and were, on average, 10 years old.
  • The companies surveyed employed 683 creative and hi-tech workers, an increase of 133 new jobs this year.
  • Forty seven percent of studios surveyed said skills shortages were limiting growth, up from 24 percent in 2018.
  • Seventy nine percent of the skills shortages were for experienced senior staff in art and technology, and 14 percent of the industry are on work visas.
  • Attracting early stage development funding and attracting investment for expansion continue to be the biggest growth challenges to the industry.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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