The New Zealand Games Developers Association (NZGDA) released their annual report Friday, detailing the continued growth of the New Zealand games industry over the last decade. The report revealed that New Zealand has doubled its games industry's revenue over the last two years, at $195 million ($NZ203.4 million).
The report revealed New Zealand's games industry surpassed Australia in revenue, despite employing nearly half of the full-time equivalent staff Australia does. (Australia employs 1,275 people full-time, New Zealand employs 683.)
For the last financial year, Australian games development generated $143.5 million in income, while the NZGDA revealed that New Zealand's annual games industry revenue was $195.44 million ($NZ203.4 million), double the $99.9 million earned in 2017. The report also detailed an annual growth rate of 42 per cent, a trend that's continued since 2012.
The largest studios in New Zealand generated 93 per cent of the reported revenue, according to NZGDA, and employ around 77 per cent of the country's games workforce.
NinjaKiwi's Bloons TD6 and Grinding Gear Games' Path of Exile were both called out in the report as key drivers of New Zealand's games industry growth, as well as Little Lost Fox's Valleys Between.
Given that Path of Exile is one of the "top ten played PC games in the world", it's likely that the MMORPG made a significant dent in the growth of New Zealand's local games industry. This year, they held their first ever local convention for the game, ExileCon, which Kotaku Australia attended as a guest of Grinding Gear Games.
Another key driver of this growth is the fact that New Zealand's game developers are supported on a government level, and make "considerably more than the median [income for Creative Professionals" in the country, according to a 2019 Creative New Zealand report. Unlike Australia, video games have become part of the New Zealand government's Creative Industries plans, which aim to boost productivity in the sector.
Skills shortages were cited as the key factor holding New Zealand studios back, according to 47 percent of companies surveyed. Those currently working in the industry are focusing on diverse projects including mobile apps, PC and console games, and augmented or virtual reality apps.
In contrast, while Australian studios are currently expecting some level of growth, only 35 per cent of them expected to achieve this growth over the next financial year. As Australia's Interactive Games and Entertainment Association made clear in 2019, much of what holds back the Australian games industry is a clear lack of support from government bodies.
"The Australian game development industry continues to grow and succeed despite a lack of policies to support our industry that makes it harder to develop games in Australia than in almost any other advanced economy,” Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA said in 2019.
The continued growth of New Zealand's games industry is testament to what government support can do for an emerging industry. It remains to be seen what that same support could do for the Australian games industry and the country's economy.
You can read the full results of the NZGDA report here.