Screen Queensland has a solid track record of supporting local video game development, along with other screen industries in the state. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has throttled production across the entertainment industry, the state body has opted to pivot some of their biggest grants. That's good news for video game developers, who can apply for grants of up to $150,000 under the state's SQ Enterprise fund.
In a media release this week, Screen Queensland announced the $1 million fund was part of a $3.3 million deal designed to support the Queensland screen industries. "Right now, it’s essential we boost resilience for Queensland screen businesses, but we must also nurture agility and invest in innovative businesses and projects," Kylie Munnich, CEO of Screen Queensland, said.
The grants of up to $150,000 will be accessible by any game dev, post-production, production services or distribution company in the screen industries, and the funds can be used for project and slate development, new partnerships, investments, diversification of talent or marketing. It's not the only grant available to game developers in the state, but at the time of writing it is the largest.
"Applications must include a compelling 12-month business plan, financial strategy, market and competitor analysis as well as immediate and long-term benefits to the Queensland screen industry," Screen Queensland advised.
The full list of things developers can apply for includes:
- slate development (the company must be able to demonstrate it owns the rights to these projects and that they have the potential to be production-ready in 12 months)
- hiring experts focused on practice and performance
- engaging consultative business services (funding for consultative business services should constitute only a part of your budget)
- establishing new partnerships and/or securing new commercial/private investment
- supporting marketing strategies
- investing in infrastructure
- investing in innovation
- increasing staff numbers, especially where this commits the business to diversifying its talent base.
In a follow-up question to the body, Screen Queensland told Kotaku Australia that game developers would be able to apply for funding for new or ongoing projects through the "slate" element of the enterprise grant. The grant money could not be used for existing staff or expenses, but it can go towards hiring new staffers and expertise.
Development applications must showcase "a clear path to market" and "strong potential for key projects to move quickly into production in the next 12 months". That's a clear win for video game developers, since their path to market and capacity to continue working on development isn't hugely hindered under the current conditions - many Australian developers are already accustomed to remote or distributed working.
Golf Story. Hollow Knight. Damsel. Ticket to Earth. Untitled Goose Game. Crossy Road. Florence. Paperbark. Australia's got a pretty good track record in games when it comes to our size, especially when you consider the lack of infrastructural support compared to countries like Canada or Sweden. But Australia's also a massive country geographically. So to get access to the necessary talent, and for individual Australian artists, designers, writers and programmers to get more experience on bigger projects, the solution is often remote. And while remote working opens a world of talent and experience that would ordinarily never be available, it takes some skill to manage it well.
More details about the SQ Enterprise fund can be found here, with applications to be submitted through the SQ Enterprise grants portal. Applications will close at midnight on May 29. Screen Queensland will also provide additional funding through their Finance program, with developers able to apply for grants up to $50,000 twice a year.