Screen Australia has announced three new games development funding initiatives at GCAP 2023.
The first of the three new programs is the Games Production Fund. This is to become Screen Australia’s flagship fund, absorbing and replacing the Games: Expansion Pack fund. Unlike the Expansion Pack funding, the Games Production Fund is designed to allow developers to apply for funds that can assist at any stage of development — including shipping, taking a build to early access, and pitching to investors. Similar to previous funding, applicants will need to tell Screen Australia where in the project pipeline they are, where they want to get to, and provide a plan for how they expect to get there. You’ll also need to provide a playable prototype for consideration (don’t have funding for a prototype? Keep reading).
Successful applicants can access up to $100,000 and must use the funding to take their project to a significant milestone. A wrinkle for some: you must be a PTY LTD company to apply. The first round of applications opens October 3, 2023 and closes November 30, 2023. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it into the first round — the Games Production Fund will run two rounds of funding per year over the next four years, so you will have another chance to apply.
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the Games Production Fund offers less money per grant than the previous Expansion Pack funding. The reason for this is that Screen Australia has used that extra money to create a couple of new funds.
As part of Screen Australia’s funding efforts, there’s also the Emerging Gamemakers Fund – giving up to $30,000 in funding to sole traders or companies to fund the creation of a prototype or micro-scale game project. While other funding requires a prototype to apply, this fund seeks to encourage experimentation and remove the barrier to both funding and pitching games – Games Investment Manager Amelia Laughlan said the fund would “democratise the early stage of game making,” particularly for those from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds. Applications involve an idea or concept pitch, with the first of two rounds – two per financial year – opening tomorrow, and closing on 30 November, 2023. The Emerging Gamemakers Fund is compatible with other funding opportunities and will be a part of Screen Australia’s games funding roster for the next four years.
The third funding opportunity announced is the Future Leaders Delegation, which will provide five early to mid-career game developers from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds up to $8,000 in funding to attend the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 2024.
Eligible applicants include those who have yet to attend a GDC event before, have released a game publicly – whether on Steam, itch.io, or elsewhere – and are currently working on a game. The successful applicants will also be flown to Melbourne prior to the event for workshops. Games Investment Manager Chad Toprak said this funding opportunity came from Screen Australia’s view that there was a high value in “finding and connecting with community” in game development, to allow emerging local developers to network and bring their learnings from overseas back onto Australian shores.
Applications open on October 3, 2023, with a 9 November, 2023 deadline. While there’s no confirmation that this initiative will continue beyond GDC 2024, Screen Australia expressed an interest in potentially expanding the funding in future.
Finally, the Skills Development Fund, which was not previously open to games applications, is now open to games applications. This grant offers up to $80,000 in funding for projects that require more specialised skills, or help upskill your production. Say your team requires training in specific new software, or needs help with a new engine or platform, this is the funding you can now apply for. It’s not to be used as a replacement for wages, and applicants will need to have at least three full-time staff that require training for consideration. This fund has a deadline of October 26, 2023, which is quite soon so we’d recommend getting a wriggle on if you’d like to apply.
If you’d like further information on any of the funds detailed in this piece, or you’d just like to hear it from the horse’s mouth, IGEA will be holding a webinar to go through each fund in detail after Melbourne International Games Week concludes. You can tune into the webinar, which will comprise an info session and Q&A, on Thursday, October 12 at 3 PM AEDT. Hit the Eventbrite link here to reserve your spot (it’s free).
Image: iStock, Nikki Meel
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