A new survey from the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) has revealed Australia’s local games industry grew by 29 per cent year-on-year in 2020, despite the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Growth in the sector means the Australian games development industry is now worth $184.6 million, with the potential to grow even further in 2021.
The survey analysed data from 97 studios across Australia and highlighted the major challenges facing them in 2020 including a lack of government funding, the inability to court investors via large-scale events like PAX and the need to hire specialised employees.
These challenges were met head-on in a year filled with uncertainty.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, 76 per cent of Australia’s game studios indicated they would be able to maintain stable profits and continue operating without staff redundancies. 18 per cent indicated they had ‘serious’ concern over the next 12 months, while only 11 per cent reported reduced contractual revenue.
The statistics reflect a stability in Australia’s games development sector that was difficult to find across the arts in 2020. The entertainment industry, for example, was forced into a near-total shutdown in March 2020 that destabilised filming and production arrangements for several months. This was reflected in the cinema shutdowns that threatened to change the film industry forever.
The results shared in the IGEA survey show a games industry with massive potential for the future.
Despite the achievements of the industry in 2020, it’s still one of the most overlooked sectors of Australia’s local industries. In June 2020, a massive cash injection of $250 million was provided to Australia’s commercial arts and entertainment sectors, but video games didn’t meet the criteria for funding.
This was called out in the IGEA report.
“Government recognition and support is key to unlocking exponential growth of Australia’s game development industry,” said Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA, in a press release. “There is an immediate opportunity to create a $1 billion video game development industry in Australia and play an important part in reviving the Australian economy.”
In lieu of greater support, Australia’s local games industry turned to flexible remote work arrangements and positive mental health practices to combat the pandemic. This flexibility and resilience meant the games industry was one of the few that thrived under lockdown and stay-at-home conditions.
Tools like Slack and Discord meant developers could stay connected and continue working when other industries were shut down.
As the coronavirus continues to reshape how we work and live, it’s essential that the government considers the success of the Australian games development industry in 2020. Despite the mounting challenges facing the entertainment industry as a whole, the games sector has thrived. With 67 per cent of studios indicating they would look to hire more employees in 2021, it has the potential to reach even greater heights in 2021.
It’s time for the government to give Australian video games the chance to grow even faster. In the wake of coronavirus, the industry’s potential is limitless.
You can view the full report and accompanying statistics via the IGEA website.