The Greens Want To Invest $100 Million+ Into Australian Video Games

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To kick off their campaign for the byelection in the Victorian seat of Batman, the Australian Greens have announced their ideal for the local video game sector - an investment fund to the tune of $100 million.

As reported by the SMH, Greens WA Senator Jordon Steele-John argued that the video games sector was crucial to Australia's economic effort online, given that the industry generates around $3 billion in revenue locally and approximately $100 billion a year worldwide.

The plan would also make video game developers eligible for tax offsets, currently only available to those in traditional creative industries such as arts, TV and film.

The Greens have advocated for renewed government support for the video game sector since the cancellation of the $20 million Australian Interactive Games Fund, created in 2013 before being scrapped by Tony Abbott's Coalition government in 2014.

Details about the $100 million investment fund aren't available at the time of writing. The Greens' website has their policy towards video games that they took to the 2016 federal election, which called for the expansion of the Producer's Tax Offset to include developers, and an additional $5 million for co-sharing working spaces.

The parliamentary budget office costed that entire plan at around $158 million over 4 years, primarily due to the expansion of the tax offset.

"For a government so concerned with selling the message of innovation, it is deeply hypocritical to continue to ignore the creative, cultural, and economic contributions of the video games industry," Senator Jordon Steele-John is quoted as saying.


Comments

    Well done the greens, understanding there is opportunities for a large industry to develop and help push our economy into the 21st century. If only more politicians were not welded to 1950s thinking we could have a country that makes Dubai look like a stone age shit hole.

      With enough Pakistani and Afghan slaves, anything is possible.

      The problem is the Greens always want this money poured into wanky economic-loss projects that only become viable on the taxpayer dollar. Just like they support pouring money into the Australian film industry so they can make indie rubbish about minority issues that nobody goes to see, awful “indie” music that only gets played on a Government-funded broadcaster or ‘Word Museums’.

      The fact that their statement puts the words ‘creative’ and ‘cultural’ before ‘economic’ kinda sums up why they shouldn’t be holding the purse strings.

      The Government should be ensuring that it’s viable to make games here and that they can turn a profit if they’re good, but from a tax payer perspective it’s far better if EA opens a studio here that employees 60 people in slave-like conditions and we tax the sh*t out of their microtransaction revenue, than it is if we give two blokes a million bucks to make Escape from Woomera.

      I know that the realistic alternatives don’t get it right either (our system of Government has an unfathomable number of flaws), but agreeing to throw public money at these kinds of things is the sort of easy, responsibility free vote-buying nonsense that the Greens thrive on.

        Agree to a point - simple cash injection doesn’t suddenly create an industry overnight. It can help though.

        The problem is that this will almost certainly be used for indie studios to develop mobile games with micro transactions or other similar titles that I doubt most Kotaku readers would care about. Think Fruit Ninja but not anywhere near as successful. More than likely it’ll be more noise in a sea of indies.

        Everyone dreams of birthing the next Bioware or Obsidian or Looking Glass Studios, if we only gave $100m or something from the taxpayer coffers, but that probably isn’t going to happen.

        I remember some wanker got $14,000 to paint some trees in a park purple, some bullshit political/environmental statement about not cutting down trees or some shit.
        Waste of fucking money because
        a) 90% of people wont get the connection between the purple paint and logging
        b) the people that do get it like 1% will give a shit and applaud like pretentious twats because they "get it".

          Seems to be a little more anger here than necessary.

            Yeah, this stuff really Grinds my gears, frivolous spending on "art" projects. The thing that really shit me off about the trees though, the guy who did it had to comply with environmental standards so the paint was water based.
            A week later it rained washed alot of the paint off the trees, so he applied for another grant to use a better paint that would last longer.

        "wanky economic-loss projects"..
        Here's a previous article:
        https://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/02/this-is-a-pretty-comprehensive-list-of-all-game-studios-in-australia/
        Wow, hundreds of apparently "unviable" studios.
        The whole point of the story is that plenty of money is pumped into TV and Film studios but video games are completely ignored even though they are just as successful. And it's nice to claim that the film are "indie rubbish" but these sorts of films are what establishes the film industry and makes it one of the best in the world - and now you have many large-budget films using Australia for a lot of the filming. Without that initial funding to establish the industry that wouldn't have happened.
        Wouldn't it be nice to see the same happen to the video game industry?

          And not just filming. Watch to the end of many recent blockbusters and you'll see credits for Australian special effects houses, helped by grants from their respective state governments. I'm not sure if the same could work for games - it's probably not as easy for different parts of a game to be outsourced to a range of content providers.

          Wouldn't it be nice to see the same happen to the video game industry?

          Definitely, BUT funding should be predicated on an objective assessment of job creation and overall value to the economy.

          The Greens are happy to throw money at the games industry because a good portion of their voters see any overspend as ‘art spending’ and never as waste. That’s why they’re “leading” on this issue by offering the most funding, because there’s no harm to them if they get it horribly wrong and waste a ton of taxpayer money funding crap nobody buys or plays.

          Again, I’m not saying that any of the alternatives are doing a great job either.

        Australian film industry so they can make indie rubbish about minority

        oh yeah, those indie films shot in Australia like Alien:Covenant, Thor:Ragnarok, and Aquaman

          Not to mention the massive number of Chinese offshore productions we do here at a massive financial advantage. If we had the same tax offsets as competitors in NZ and the UK, we would be making more films and making more money in the sector.

          indie films shot in Australia like Alien:Covenant, Thor:Ragnarok, and Aquaman

          Were you being sarcastic? Those aren't indie films. They may have been filmed in Aus, but they were not produced by indies.

          Last edited 05/03/18 1:06 pm

            that's the point

              Shot in Australia doesn't mean shot by an Australian company.

                Yes but I think you've missed the point. Aside from those overseas companies directly benefiting from tax offsets and direct negotiations with local and state governments..

                The Government assistance to the Film Industry over the years has led to an industry that is attractive to overseas investment and has created an environment where skilled workers can continue to work in Australia at an International level without having to leave the country.

            beatsbynelly's point is they are examples of films being shot in Australia due to the exact kind of tax breaks the Greens are suggesting introducing for game studios.

            *Sorry for overstating the obvious, just making sure everyone's on the same page. There's huge differences between tax incentives and arts grants.

              This actually captures my big question about this. Are the Greens proposing Tax Breaks (I'm all for that) or grants (No thanks)

              Seriously watch any failed esoteric Australian movie from the past 3 decades that gets buried on Saturday night TV during the summer and it's usually preceeded by the words Film Finance Corporation (insert state here)

                You know that the film finance corporation funded under 10 films and wrapped up in 2008?

        ...wanky economic-loss projects that only become viable on the taxpayer dollar

        It sounds like you're talking about a different thing that the article. Tax incentives for game studios, is a business decision with the end goal of creating jobs and building up the industry (the same way that tax offsets have brought quite a few Hollywood produced films to shoot at the Gold Coast).

        Escape from Woomera was funded using an arts grant, which as you say "puts the words ‘creative’ and ‘cultural’ before ‘economic’". Do you really disagree with that? How do you propose non-commercial art is created if not with government grants?

        The only other option of these projects being made is when they are supported by big business that use them as tax write-offs if they don't turn a profit, which isn't really any different that the money coming straight out of the governments pockets.

          How do you propose non-commercial art is created if not with government grants?

          This is very much an ideological viewpoint, but as a general rule I think that if it’s non-essential and the public won’t pay for it with their own money then it shouldn’t be funded out of the public purse.
          Nothing is “non-commercial” if it costs money in the first place. Whatever it is needs to have enough value to its audience to justify its own cost, otherwise it doesn’t need to exist.

          Obviously there’s a commercial side to the entertainment industry that can make it worth providing financial concessions to make us competitive in an international market, and I support that when it’s done sensibly. I just know that the Greens never go close to finding that sensible balance and aren’t particularly interested in trying.

          It’s easy for them to lead on these issues because if they get the balance wrong and overfund then they say they’re investing in art and that plays well with a good portion of the small minority who vote for them, but far more people think public funds are for essential services that people wouldn’t or couldn’t pay for themselves.

            You seem to imply that value of non-essential projects is intrinsically tied to their profitability, but I'd argue the opposite. The fact that services such as our national galleries and parks are free to visit are decisions our government have made that I'm most proud of. To limit access to these services to only those who could afford it would awful. Despite this, I believe these are services that the majority would opt out of using their tax to fund, given the choice.

            I believe that creation of art should be one of those non-essential projects allowing restrictions put on who is given the chance to create, narrows the scope of what is created, which in turn affects both the artistic and monetary value of the art coming out of Australia. Putting a little money aside for projects like can payoff for everyone down the track.

              It’s about balance and the overall value of these things to the broader public. You’re probably right about people opting out of funding national galleries if they could, but I agree that on balance they should exist in some form even if it’s with public money.

              I’m not saying no to art funding, I’m saying it needs to be economically justifiable at some level. Even if that value is realised via education, tourism, public health ect- those things are all quantifiable in the kind of way that a mainstream political party should be able to support.

              National parks are a different thing as far as I’m concerned, since preserving the country is kinda necessary for our long-term survival, so I’d list them as a non-negotiable essential services (also my local national park isn’t free).

              What I’m against is the Greens recklessly allocating more funding than necessary because they aren’t concerned about having it fall into projects so niche that they aren’t appreciated by the vast majority of taxpayers, which is what they always do. Once funding starts falling into small projects I think they should be funded by the niche groups that appreciate them, if it’s not something that most people will get value from then it either needs to be economically justifiable (offer a net benefit for non-users) or be funded privately.

                Cool, that's for all that, I do like hearing level headed discussion about funding of the arts, it usually devolves so quickly. I feel like when there are discussions like this, there's going to be a happy(ish) compromise that means everyone's opinion is valued.

                Also, I didn't realise other states still charged for access to national parks, Victoria made them all free a few years ago.

        To be fair to EA... and I know this wasn't really your point... They employ 200+ people locally, and treat them very well.

          If we’re being factually accurate, my assertion that a multinational corporation actually pays tax is probably also incorrect.

          If we’re being factually accurate, my assertion that a multinational corporation actually pays tax is probably also incorrect.

    Eh, $100mil is a drop in the bucket compared to the money they throw down the toilet making sure manufacturing maintains its toe grip in Aus, let alone all the other programs that waste tax payer money the fed and state govs action.
    Personally not for or against.

    Tax breaks for the gaming industry is probably more helpful and sustainable in the long run.

      So the Green's plan to provide tax offsets will pair nicely with the investment fund pool that will give a nice short term boost?

      Tax breaks should help more in the long run, as you say. Relatively speaking, they wont be big enough to impact on budgets, but to the studios would represent a major cashflow benefit.

      Its that area where most studios struggle, whether its the leadup to a release, or after a dud title, so anything that helps that can only be a good thing for the industry, and entertainment in general.

      When the studios do make That Game, that goes on to global success, most of those tax incentives would be easily covered with just one title. The globalisation of the gaming industry suggests this should be a no brainer, given how many million selling titles have been developed here over the past 30 years.

      From Melbourne House, through Krome and Rockstar Bondi, and on to indies like Hipster Whale, there are plenty of stories of games made here generating lots of revenue. That gets taxed...

    The greens are always great at making these outlandish promises but given they can never form a majority government they cant actually fulfill these promises.

    Minority parties do it all the time. No government would support such a huge fund so the greens promise is null and void.

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