642 days after a cross-party federal inquiry recommended ways to support the local video games industry, the Federal Government responded. Out of eight recommendations, the government only supported one in principle.
Naturally, local developers and studios have been less than impressed – and they haven’t been shy about airing their disappointment.
Over the last few hours, the video game industry has been digesting the federal government response to a Senate inquiry into the local video game sector. Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Communications and the Arts, had initially announced that the government would table its response by the end of 2017.
That response eventually came at the end of January, nearly two years after the recommendations were handed down.
In April 2016, the Senate held a parliamentary inquiry into the state of the Australian video game industry. After weeks of deliberations and consulations with industry and bureaucracy, the cross-party committee made 8 recommendations that included arguing for the reinstatement of the Australian Interactive Games Fund.Read more
The reaction was almost universally negative, with developers and industry representatives slamming the government for not offering to do more.
Jonny Roses, the policy and public affairs lawyer for the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, said on Twitter:
Out of the 8 recommendations made by the Senate, the Government “noted” 5 of them, “did not support” 2 of them, and while it “did support” 1 of them (on encouraging the uptake of serious games), it believed the industry should pursue this and NOT the government.
So, all-in-all, there was not one single recommendation that the Government actually supported. No funding has been reinstated. No other initiatives (aside from $17,000 given to GDAA for GDC attendance) were implemented.
And this response has come 642 days after the Senate published its report. The Government was required to respond within 3 months, yet missed its deadline, even after it promised to respond by the end of 2017.
The association also provided a separate statement to Kotaku Australia:
To say we are disappointed with the government’s response to the Senate Inquiry would be to understate things. We are incredibly disappointed for the industry, but sadly not surprised, by this short-sighted approach by the Federal government. The lack of engagement and long overdue reply spoke volumes even before we saw the ‘all of government’ response. The industry deserves much better than this.
We will continue to work with State, Territory and Federal governments on creating an environment that supports the Australian development sector to compete on a more level playing field, both locally and internationally.
The Game Developers’ Association of Australia also responded:
Developers and observers on Twitter were less impressed.
John Kane, maker of Killing Time at Lightspeed and Mallow Drops:
This was the response I expected, but it’s still gutting to see such a dismissal of an entire industry like this. To be honest, the Australian games industry exists despite the federal government, not because of it. We’ll keep on making amazing work, just as we always have, even if we have to move elsewhere to do it.
Chris Conte, co-founder of 5 Lives Studios, makers of Satellite Reign:
2 years of being constantly slapped in the face: “We haven’t looked at it yet”, “It is on my desk”, “We are formulating a response”, “You will have our response before the end of the year” …. then we get punched in the face: “Aaaaahhhh…. No” … I’m not sure why I thought we were going to get good news at the end of this. I guess we will continue to post this at the end of our games:
Morgan Jaffit, founder of Defiant Development, makers of the Hand of Fate games:
To receive such a slapdash response, after the amount of work and detail put into the submission, and especially to receive it 600 days late is obviously a huge disappointment.
More than that though, this codifies what has been made clear by the governments actions. Despite the local games industry being an exemplar of the “strong, flexible, digital economy” the government purports to support, the govt simply does not care. More than that, they’ve actively dismantled funds in existence and explicitly denied games funding through other agencies.
Ultimately, this is disappointing, but simply reaffirms the position that has been clear through the governments actions.
It’ll be exciting the see where the future takes the Australian Games industry.
But by ‘takes us’, what I mean is: overseas. Lots of us will move overseas.
Golf clap, AusGov, golf clap…
— Elissa Harris (@expectproblems) January 31, 2018
There's really not much point trying to run a new game business in Australia. This is incredibly moronic. We're isolated from publishers, ineligible from any support mechanisms afforded to US/UK/EU counterparts, our internet is slow and we have no investment in games.
— Emre Deniz (@Emre_C_Deniz) January 31, 2018
The Australian government doesn't care about the games industry; this is not surprising. Much respect to my friends who are sticking around to try and make things better.
— Jetha Chan (@jetha) January 31, 2018
You bet It Will Be Hard will absolutely reference the Gov's ignorance on dev support & the marriage plebiscite bullshit https://t.co/yqgvko7BzI
— Hien Pham (@wavingpeople) January 31, 2018
Thread detailing the Australian government's (disappointing) response to funding games development in Australia. Spread this around and remember it when you're voting. https://t.co/RJzlqeLCQF
— Kip Brennan (@kipslife) January 31, 2018
— Daniel Draper (@DraperDanMan) January 31, 2018
The Government reply to the Games Inquiry is like when you spend all day putting together the most comprehensive doc on a tight deadline and your boss chucks it on his desk and says, 'ta, I'll read it later'.
— Mark Serrels (@Serrels) January 31, 2018
God fuck….. After such an amazing year in Aus games seeing the government just… Not give a shit is heart breaking https://t.co/LFZrViALW3
— ben shambrook (@shambrookben) January 31, 2018
So the government just notes and disagrees with a bunch of recommendations to help the games industry in Australia, but thankfully @SenatorFifield gave you all 17,000 dollars to go to GDC https://t.co/ZyN519CxLn #ausgov #ausgames #gamedev
— Fox (@Aerial_Fox) January 31, 2018
Not a great idea to encourage a lot of game developers to get political, then ignore them for two years before shrugging them off.
Our audience size dwarfs that of any other entertainment industry in Australia. Strap in.
— Morgan Jaffit (@morganjaffit) January 31, 2018
The Australian Greens’ spokesperson for Digital Rights and IT, Senator Jordon Steele-John, said the Minister’s response “just does not cut it” and that they were “rejecting the recommendations of its own members”:
The Government just doesn’t get it. It took them over 600 days, and this is the best they have got! They clearly do not understand the creative, economic, and cultural value of this important industry and seem to have logged off. Defaulting to tired lines about their National Innovation and Science Agenda just does not cut it.
The Government is rejecting the recommendations of its own members and Minister Fifield is robbing all Australians of the right to benefit from the significant cultural and economic contribution that a thriving Australian Games Industry would provide. The funding that the Government mentions is not targeted to supporting the Games Industry and is not sufficient. This is a Creative industry that requires the same supports that film and television firms can access.