Victoria has been the most ardent supporter of funding video games for a while, and this week they announced a massive expansion to that program that opens even more support to local developers.
A release on the Creative Victoria and Film Victoria sites says the Victorian Government has invested an additional $33.8 million into the local screen industries, with $19.2 million dedicated towards a new Victorian Screen Incentive for attracting international and local projects to Victoria.
State screen incentives have been around for ages, but the largest change with this new $19.2 million fund is that it will be open to video game studios for the first time. That will undoubtedly catch the eye of some major international publishers — EA’s Firemonkeys continues to operate in Melbourne, and Sledgehammer Games, one of the developers on the Call of Duty franchise, is expanding their presence in Melbourne.
The new incentive will help fund the shooting of Blacklight, a film starring Liam Neeson which began shooting in Melbourne this week.
There’s also local studios that are getting bigger and bigger, like League of Geeks who recently signed a major publishing deal for their new unannounced IP. And studios like Big Ant have continued to do a lot of licensed work with different sports games, like the AO Tennis and Don Bradman’s Cricket / Ashes Cricket / Cricket 19 titles.
But it's not the only funding for local games: another $4.7 million will go towards the development of local film, television, online and video games as well.
IGEA, the local representatives of the video game industry and publishers, said the new incentive especially would help attract AAA development back to Australia once again.
"This crucial support signals the value of our local screen industry to the economy and is a critical part of the state’s commitment to creativity and digital innovation," Caroline Pitcher, chief executive of Film Victoria, said.
IGEA added that many games in Victoria are created with original IP, making video games an excellent export opportunity for the local and federal economy. "Building on this is international investment in the local games sector, which the new incentive will strengthen ever further," IGEA said.
"With the arrival of Sledgehammer Games to Melbourne last year alongside the established EA Firemonkeys, ‘AAA’ development is heading back to Australia and the sky is the limit for Victoria."
However, they added that Victoria's support also highlighted how Australia was missing out on a massive opportunity to create a billion-dollar industry.
We again ask the Australian Government to do its part by providing a federal tax offset for game development, just like it does to the rest of the screen production industry, and to restore Screen Australia’s previous game development fund. It is only through federal, state and territory screen policies working together that we can exponentially grow the local game development industry and attract the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, that is waiting to be invested in Australia.
Australia has the ability to create a $1 billion industry in game development, providing much needed export revenue and the creation of 10,000 new highly-skilled and innovation focused full-time jobs. We are seeing Australian states like Victoria take advantage of this growth industry and it’s time for the federal government to step in and reap the rewards for Australia.”
More information about the new and existing screen incentives can be found on the Film Victoria website here.
Details of announcement can be found on their website, or below in full.
The record investment of $33.8 million in Victorian screen industry programs, will back employment-boosting international projects and support locally-created content, screen industry projects and talent development initiatives.
More than half of the investment will be allocated in the current financial year, providing significant immediate stimulus to the industry as it recovers.
$19.2 million will be allocated to attract international and interstate screen projects to Victoria through a new Victorian Screen Incentive. This incentive will target physical productions, visual effects, animation, post-production and, for the first time, digital games projects.
$4.7 million will support for the development and production of local content across film, television, online and games.
$8.6 million has been secured to continue Film Victoria’s successful local production investment and industry and skills development programs on top of Film Victoria’s ongoing operational funding.
As Docklands Studios Melbourne prepares to break ground on its $46 million sixth sound stage, $1.3 million will be allocated to create a trade and technical hub close to the studios for screen crews and support businesses.
While this package is focused on immediate recovery, work is also under way on a five-year Victorian Government Screen Industry Strategy which will guide investment and opportunities in the longer term.