When the Federal Government cut the Interactive Media Fund in the most recent budget, effectively taking $10 million from local games development, the Australian Industry reacted with obvious disappointment. But, according to industry veteran John De Margheriti, the local industry has a bright future regardless of the cuts.
“It’s unfortunate that this funding has been cut, but it won’t have a significant impact on the future of the Australian Games Industry,” explained John De Margheriti.
Di Margheriti has been involved in the local games industry for 30 years, establishing studios such as Micro Forté and BigWorld. He's also been the Executive Chairman of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment a school with campuses in Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. More recently he established the AIE Incubator, assisting young developers in creating start ups.
He suggests that the fund wasn't as helpful as many believe.
"The scope of the AIGF was limited; it didn't support new developers or larger studios working on big projects. Consider that the $20 million spread over three years falls well short of the average development budget for a current generation game of between US$30-100 million. A larger studio would be better off getting access to the 40 percent Producer Offset, currently only available for film production," De Margheriti said.
"These cuts won’t impact on the opportunities available for graduates coming out of AIE. The AIGF was not intended to support new developers without published titles. That’s why we created the Incubator Program which makes a range of funding available to these developers, even up to three years after they've graduated."
It could be argued that De Margheriti has a vested interest in the belief that the removal of $10 million from local development will have little impact on the Australian Games Industry — AIE thrives on attracting Australians who want to be involved in game development after all — but De Margheriti has a wealth of knowledge that few can match. That said, his views go directly against the majority of the games industry who are concerned about the loss.
Despite this, De Margheriti remains optimistic.
“I'm excited about the future of the games industry in Australia," he said. "If we want a bigger slice of the US$70 billion global games industry, there needs to be a range of funding and investment options for developers at all levels. There's a huge amount of talent and great ideas currently in development that I'm committed to supporting."