The New Zealand Government has announced a new 20% rebate for local video game development studios. This new games rebate marks NZ’s next significant move to compete with Australia as a game development hub.
The rebate was announced among other tech investments in the new Chris Hipkins Government’s first federal budget. It will be available to game development studios that qualify for, and meet, a minimum NZ$250,000 expenditure threshold each year. Individual studios can receive up to $NZ3 million per year in rebate funding, and the Government says, the rebate will be backdated to April 1st, 2023.
“The rebate will help attract and retain gaming studios to operate in New Zealand and provide a long-term incentive to build their business here,” said Digital Economy and Communications Minister Ginny Andersen. “We also want to make sure that we have the right people trained and ready to help grow the gaming and wider tech sector in New Zealand.”
The Government says the rebate will be accompanied by a $NZ27 million spend on a Digital Skills package to grow New Zealand’s tech sector, supporting “apprenticeship-like pilot programs,” part payments for trainee wages, set up costs for trainees, and employer support. Further, the Hipkins Government will be “supporting in-school programmes and an internship matching service to build foundations for future growth and improved productivity.”
This is not the first move New Zealand has made to keep local game developers from decamping for Australia. Brain drain has, over the years, become a serious problem for the country’s game development scene. NZ has lost many local developers to Australia, particularly as state and federal support across the Tasman became more commonplace. In November last year, the previous Ardern Government announced it would expand CODE (Centre for Digital Excellence) funding by an extra $NZ2 million per year until 2027. Prior to that injection of extra funding, CODE mostly served the Otago region in New Zealand’s southeast. Its remit is to help create and foster new game studios in the region, and the fruit of its labour turned Dunedin into the country’s game development capital. That extra funding, it said at the time, would allow it to expand its efforts nationwide.
Kotaku Australia has reached out to the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) for comment on this story. The NZGDA has pushed long and hard for improved federal funding for game development in NZ, and we look forward to hearing their take on this news in due course. For now, here’s NZGDA’s reaction on Twitter, seemingly stunned by the news…
— NZGDA (@nzgda) May 18, 2023
… and the Twitter statement from NZGDA chairperson Chelsea Rapp, one of many to have fought a long, hard battle convincing NZ to take game development more seriously.
Wow. Thank you to everyone who worked so tirelessly in the background to make this real. This is definitely a career highlight for me. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together – here’s to the incredibly bright future of #nzgamdev. https://t.co/5xudzvfKOD
— Chelsea Rapp (@vitaminC_Rapp) May 18, 2023
A big win for our game dev family from across the way, and a hard fight well fought. You simply love to see it. May there be many more policy victories to come.
You can read all about the new NZ games rebate, direct from the Beehive, right here.
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