The Australian Interactive Games Fund was shortlived, but the federal investment program played a part in backing some of the best local games and studios over the past several years. And at a policy launch in Melbourne this afternoon, Labor has announced that they'll reinstate the fund to the tune of $25 million if elected.
The arts policy document, which spans 24 pages and includes policies on the funding of the ABC and SBS, investment in local screen industries and a separate $20 million fund for supporting live music venues. The document also includes a pledge to restart the Australian Interactive Games Fund with a $25 million budget, designed to help studios "access finance" to "grow as businesses" and develop games.
"Restarting the Fund will kick start the rapid growth of our games development sector through the establishment of new game studios in Australia, investment and projects flowing into existing Australian studios and a range of joint ventures," Labor's policy reads.
"This will enable a variety of works and the generation of original intellectual property in long form games, apps, virtual reality and augmented reality with output across the arts, communications, digital economy, innovation, education, training, health, defence, and more."
The Australian Interactive Games Fund was first established by Labor under the-then Arts Minister Simon Crean in 2013. It was a $20 million program that offered grants for ongoing projects and investment, with studios like Defiant Development (Hand of Fate), Flat Earth Games (Objects In Space, TownCraft), Tin Man Games (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain), Loveshack (FRAMED), The Voxel Agents (The Gardens Between), Iron Helmet Games (Blight of the Immortals) and Uppercut Games (City of Brass) all receiving some form of support from the fund at the time.
"By every single metric I can think of, the Games Production Grant has been an unmitigated success," Leigh Harris, co-founder of Flat Earth Games and one of the beneficiaries of the AIGF, said when the first iteration of the fund was shut down in 2014.
The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, which has been lobbying federal parties for a reinstatement of the fund since its closure, put out an announcement and some comments saying the group was "heartened" by Labor's stance.
IGEA is heartened by today’s policy announcement from the Federal Labor party announcing that, if elected, they will re-introduce an interactive games fund of $25 million to be invested over three years. This investment in the Australian games development industry has been informed by the experience of the former Australian Interactive Games Fund (axed by the Liberal Government in 2014) and will contribute to export revenue, innovation and highly skilled jobs with transferrable skills for Australians.
IGEA and our members are encouraged and grateful for this commitment from the Labor Party who recognise that game development is an industry of the future and is worth supporting. Australian game developers are creative, talented, resilient and ready to lead and grow the digital revolution,” says Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association.
“Should the Labor Party win the election, we are ready to work with them on the re-establishment of the fund to deliver successful outcomes for the industry”.
Curry also notes that this is one of the number of support mechanisms IGEA are seeking on behalf of the local games development industry and look forward to working closely with all sides of the political landscape to establish a comprehensive and integrated support plan to position Australia as a leader in a global $200B business.
The Australian Greens have previously called for the reinstatement of the AIGF, but for the investment to be boosted to $100 million. Their approach would also extend the film and TV producer tax offsets to video game developers.
Update: Armello was previously listed as having received support from the AIGF, but the studio's Screen Australia funding was from previously established government funds.
More to come...