The Incredibly Shrinking Australian Games Industry

Justin Brow from 60Sox has just completed an extensive survey of the Australian Games Industry, putting together a head count that reveals that the amount people in full time emplyment, creating games, has shrunk rapidly over the past three years.

According to ACMI, the Australian Games Industry employed over 2000 people across almost 50 studios - now only 931 people are employed.

It's a pretty radical drop that reflects not only the mass lay-offs that have occured in the country over the past three years, but the new shape that the Australian Games industry is beginning to take. Whereas larger Australian studios used to hire large amounts of developers to work on bigger budget games, now there are far fewer employees spread across more studios, as Australia has started to build a reputation for creating strong, successful mobile content across the iOS and Android platforms.

Tsumea has created an extremely handy visual illustration of the which can be viewed here

Australian Games Industry 2011 head count [Tsumea]


    I don't think Ive ever LOVED an Aussie game. Played a few , had fun but never LOVED.

      Well, the Halfbrick stuff is brilliant. Though I agree, it's not something I LOVE.

      Maybe L.A.Noire will change that?

        Thats more of a joint project though...right?

        Technically speaking most things are.

      Not even Puzzle Quest?

        Did I like Puzzle Quest? yeah
        Did I LOVE it? Noooooooooooo

      De Blob.

      De Blob, de Blob de Blob de Blob de Blob.

      DE BLOB!

        Also, the above infographic reminds me of Thomas the Tank Engine.

      Don't forget Flight Control (and De Blob).

    Sounds like an email campaign is due for a few Members of Parliment(State and Federal).

    Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Infrastructure, Ministers for Employment, Ministers for Industry, Ministers for Small Business, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for IT, Shadow Ministers for Same.

    Did I miss anyone?

      Minister of pay Jimu to play games all day for no good reason.

      yeah nothing will improve until the gaming industry is treated the same as the movie industry

      Not to be pessimistic but given how few people are actually employed in the industry (compared to at least 30,000 in aspects of movie production) and given the lack of political capital in supporting video games development (as opposed to, say, giving money to schools) I can't see this being taken very seriously by government bodies.

      Of course tax concessions and grants would be fantastic to encourage some local development, but there's a whole heap of barriers to this becoming a reality. Not least aspects of whatever free trade treaties we have with the USA or others which might deal with intellectual property or high-tech industries.

    The survey was done by Justin Brow, not Justin Wong. Has someone been watching Street Fighter matches online? :p

      ;) - thanks Trjn!

    Those numbers pale in comparison to the number of undergrad and semipro developers who are killing time around here trying to find a serious employer. Australia could be the launchpad of an indie revolution if all those folks just got together to make their passion projects.

    Speaking as a former developer, I wish I could take the time I spent studying game dev at university and put all that time back into working on personal projects out of my garage. I know it's not glamourous, but it's at least equally as exciting as working for a studio.

    Attorney Generals to let up and give us a R rating? Might actually get a few more Aussie designers staying native and not migrating to a country that doesnt nit pick a game for a tiny bit of blood.

      Unless we have an abundance of devs wanting to make "Coke Rape Rampage 2011" something tells me that the main reason they leave is a complete lack of career oppurtunity, zero capital or government backing along with little no games of interest being made here.

      A quick look at a lot of those names show they mainly deal in mobile phone games and id rather kill myself than be part of that.

    Canberra REPRESENT!

    Finally, something apart from house prices where we're above average in something (per capita in this case).

      Hey, per capita you guys outnumber us in foreign embassies.

    Not surprising really. Soaring value of the Australian dollar combined with the lack of many real AAA games from studios based out of Australia.

    Does this survey include independent developers at all though?

      Most of the games Aus devs work on are licensed titles for US/EU. Big triple A titles are done in-house, or if the studio is owned by a big publisher. That, or they get very very very very lucky.

      Hey NegativeZero, yes, this count includes all the indies I could find - remember though - this is *fulltime* employees. There's still loads of people around the country working away on their own stuff part-time.

    Now, if we all chipped in, could we talk Bioware into opening an Australian studio...

    Why yes; I am enjoying my pipe dream, thank you.

    >in game art
    >in South Australia.
    well, dang.

      Right there with you man. Stuck here and next to zero opportunities. >.<

    I miss KKND. It was funny and one of the better of the large amount of RTS options back in the day. It just had an silly Australian charm to it that made it so enjoyable. Dunno where Melbourne House disappeared too.

      I believe they became Krome Studios Melbourne. Which then closed down earlier this year, didn't it?

      Er... last year.

        That is how it happened...I said the same thing but my comment was lost to the void :(

    I wonder what the effect of having an R rating in the classification system would have on the Australian games industry. Help, Hinder or No Change?

      As I understand it, it has more to do with government tax breaks, subsidies and the currency exchange rate. For example, countries like Canada offer great deals to publishers and developers and as a result host some extremely large studios.

    Aww Sh*t! The Graph looks like Pacman!

    As an newcomer to the industry (as an Indie startup) and someone who gets involved with a lot of the Melbourne Indie games scene, Im seeing a big uprising of indies, some new to it all, some who've lost jobs at some of the bigger employers.

    What they all share is enthusiasm and drive (and most of them are far more talented than me!), and the real desire to make games and succeed doing it.

    I think whilst the big companies are falling down, we are going to see a lot of great indie stuff coming from oz in the near future :)

    (also is it just me, or is the "login with facebook" function borked?)

    Another Australian survey claiming to be nationally concious of some terrible statistics that forces me to ask the question I've had to ask a million bloody times;

    What about Tasmania?

      Hey Doraiya - we definitely included Tassie in our count - we couldn't locate any fulltime games developers there tho... If you know of any, I'd be really keen for an intro ...

    Keep in mind the factors keeping the industry small before all the studios closed down was more a lack of available workers than anything else

    Maybe if they made more games about little aussie battlers like the horrible dreck we were subjected to for so many years after The Castle, game makers would get some tax breaks the way the AFI does.

    I can count the number of Australian films I've enjoyed on one hand. Kenny isn't one of them.

    How about a Simpson and his Donkey game!

      Fun fact, Simpson was born in England and only joined the army after drifting around Australia so he could jump ship while back in England.

      Man we need some better national heroes.

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