It’s taken years for the Australian Government to start supporting video games again. This time, however, it seems like their words are actually being backed up with a full marketing campaign to attract international studios to relocate down under.
There’s a short video on YouTube called “The Aussie Games Showcase”, and it’s part of a pitch from the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce. If that agency doesn’t ring any bells, I’m not surprised: their YouTube channel has a measly 13 subscribers at the time of writing.
The Taskforce is a recent creation as part of a federal government post-COVID plan to create new jobs. Expanding support for video games is part of that, but to really ramp up proceedings, Australia needs bigger publishers to bring their operations to our shores.
So the Taskforce’s home page has a huge section devoted to “digital games”, complete with a showreel featuring Dead Static Drive, AO Tennis and more certified Aussie bangers, including Untitled Goose Game, Project Wingman, the Perth-made Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector, Hollow Knight and some other upcoming titles like Chorus and Broken Roads.
Not sure I would have rolled with the Mortal Kombat-style “Get Over Here” quote for the end of the pitch video, but hey.
“In 2021, one out of every ten games on Apple’s new Apple Arcade video game platform was made in either Australia or New Zealand,” the Taskforce’s page says. An extra part of the pitch, and one obviously aimed at the big publishers of the world, is this line about “continuous development”:
Australian games development studios are perfectly placed to support a 24-hour continuous development cycle. Our time zone means we keep development going while North America and Europe are asleep.
The page is pretty nicely built, and has callouts from some of the industry’s biggest developers and other faces.
There’s also a two-page fact sheet that seems very tailored towards the Call of Duty crowd. It would fit in one sense: Project Wingman, Squad and Hell Let Loose are all Aussie-made games, and the new CEO of MicroProse lives in the Hunter Valley, although the government taskforce’s page and materials don’t call out most of those.
The page goes on to note that most Aussie developers are working on their own IP, the amount of games graduates in Australia each year (around 3,000), and there’s even a video from Austrade featuring the Melbourne expansion of Sledgehammer Games, the Call of Duty studio.
This comes off the back of another line buried in an announcement from the Australia Council of the Arts. The federal agency recently published its digital culture strategy for the next few years, which called for the organisation to “investigate clearer pathways of funding for artists in games, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence”.
“An opportunity exists to crosspollinate and collaborate with the games industry as well as the screen and technology industries. Further investment and platforms that enable greater connection between these sectors are needed,” the paper added.
It’s more noise than we’ve ever heard before out of Canberra when it comes to video games, although there are still a lot of bricks in the wall that need to be built. For one, we don’t have specific details on how the Australian Government’s 30 percent tax offset for video game production will work, or whether it will be accessible to indies, or whether adjacent game productions like esports events and tournaments would qualify. We also haven’t heard much out of NSW, despite Arts Minister Don Harwin indicating in May that the state government was finally ready to support the industry.
But some noise is better than no noise. And while we’re on the topic, maybe the government could pull out that report into the classification guidelines and get those fixed while they’re at it. It’s only been sitting in a draw for more than a year, after all.