'Father Of Australian Games Industry': Cuts Won't Have A Significant Impact On Local Industry

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."


    I know how they feel, the scrapped my 3 grand tool grant. The guy said i didn't have to spend it ln tools even.

      Fuck dude, that sucks major balls. I couldn't imagine doing an apprenticeship and having to provide my own tools on those wages.

        But didn't they bring in a $20k HECs style loan? To be repaid once earning $X.

          Yeah, but that isn't free money....
          @heavyrain, it isn't so bad, my tool box costed 1500 and.came with tools and work provides most
          Stuff and wages are not bad for a aprrentice.
          if thats the only thing i have to whinge about then im doing pretty good compared.to others.

          Last edited 15/05/14 2:49 pm

            So what is there to complain about? Why should you get free tools without repayment?

              My complaint is empty. I don't need the money.
              But when i was doing panel beating earning 300 a week i did need it. Badly.
              other people need it not me.
              As for why we should get free tools: Because they are expensive and wear out and constantly need upgrading, unlike a work pc or what ever you work with.
              ask a mechanic how much tools cost him
              And ask him what incentive he would now have to become one without this funding.
              to clarify i still am a aprentice just a different trade and wage.

              Last edited 15/05/14 5:07 pm

                I thought you could claim tools back on tax in those kind of industries though (at least my relatives and friends do)? So essentially you don't pay for them in the end.

                Last edited 15/05/14 7:16 pm

                  That's correct, but it only gets deducted from mt yearly earning, so i don't get it for free and still pay.
                  My brother is a mechanic and was on 6$ a hour for most of his 4 years and had to buy tools + chest, (1500ish) and that didn't include pry bars, puller, hammer, chisels, Ect.
                  back then he really needed the tool grant and claiming it on tax would have done practically nothing for him. Even 5 years after his trade hes still buying tools and that would total more then his tool grant was.

                  main point i'm making is that the money was a incentive for teenagers to learn a trade and skill and that money was a big help, now there is very few reasons to get into the automotive industry due to low wages and tools costs.

    Calling DeMargheriti the "Father of the Australian Games Industry" is an affront to the real pioneers, and is an abomination that only DeMargheriti could possibly believe is true.

    John Di Margheriti is the father of the Australian Games Industry now?

    Snark aside, I'd be genuinely interested to know what kind of impact the Incubator program has had on the local industry. We don't often hear anything about it. Are there any studios that it spawned currently operating?

    Last edited 15/05/14 3:01 pm

      I think See-Through Studios is an Incubator group, the ones with the game Particulars which has been on show at PAX and such. There's another one too that is annoyingly just on the tip of my mind. AHA! Some google-fu tells me it is Orbitor, by Evil Aliens. Also there's another one, Collateral, by some guys in Melbourne I think.

      Last edited 15/05/14 6:02 pm

        See Through isn't an incubator group, they were just operating from the incubator building for a while from what I know - I believe Evil Aliens was an inc however.

    Father of the Games Industry?? Bahahahahahah.
    I worked with this guy, I honestly wouldn't put any stock in *anything* he says.

    Last edited 15/05/14 3:07 pm

      Says random anonymous dude.............who to believe? Oh, I know who, the real guy.

    Yes, it won't impact AAA game developers. But that's because those developers never needed it.

    It will affect the small indies who literally couldn't have made their game without the support, like the guys that did recently kickstarted game Armello:


    So here’s the long and short of it… without funding bodies like Screen Australia, Film Victoria, and Multimedia Victoria, Armello would not exist, League of Geeks probably wouldn’t either and I’d likely be tweaking combat timings 17,000 kms away for a major American studio.

    Through us, these funding bodies have touched and supported so many talented Australian practitioners and companies. For others following in our footsteps to now be denied those same opportunities is severely unfortunate.

    I'd also point out that this 'father of Australian games industry' is an academic that probably hasn't worked on developing a game or starting a new studio in a long time. The environment is completely different now to what it was 30 years ago.

      We don't really have AAA developers in the country anymore.

    This guy just got carte blanche for what his school can charge as fees, what does he care anyway?

    I think we should preface 'Father Of Australian Games Industry', with "Self Appointed".

    Also there is potential for self interest which needs to be considered here.
    Saying that it's a bad thing could impact on student numbers, the proposed expansion of the campus in Canberra, and the subsequent purchase of the required properties from the government.

    In addition the funding cuts may push more early career developers into the AIE incubator programs where they have to pay $17,000 through Vet Fee help for the privilege.
    The claims of industry veteran mentorship need careful scrutiny also.


    The obvious impact now is of course going to be minimal. As stated by others, it's a new, limited thing.

    But again, it's a lot easier to ask for it to be expanded than it is to ask for it to exist. It doesn't matter that the fund was essentially useless now. It could have been expanded to be far more useful for new up and coming developers.

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