Victorian Government halves Digital Media Fund

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Screenplay reports that Melbourne game developers have suffered a set back as support supplied by Film Victoria's Digital Media Fund has been halved by the Victorian Government. The Digital Media Fund has been extremely beneficial for the Melbourne games industry in sparking new opportunities and helping developers realise their goals. In a recent budget announcement, only $1 million would be provided to game initiatives for the next two years, sparking disappointment from the Games Developer Association of Australia (GDAA) as well as Melbourne game developers.

Tony Reed, CEO of the GDAA, expressed his thoughts on the importance of the fund to Screenplay...

Without question, Film Victoria has been a strong advocate for the creation and delivery of original content, offering programs that have allowed Victorian studios to develop games for a global audience which ultimately generate jobs for the local industry," said Mr Reed.

"The Film Victoria Digital Media Fund has enabled some of Victoria's most creative minds to develop truly unique concepts and directly encouraged the investment of millions of dollars into the Victorian game development industry."

Infinite Interactive, a Melbourne games developer who in the past benefited from the initiative with their break-out hit, Puzzle Quest, also shared their response to the announcement...

"I am extremely disappointed to hear that Film Victoria's budget has been slashed," said Infinite's CEO Steve Fawkner. "After a very tough year for the Australian games industry, we need the government to show some support, not turn their backs on us like this."

The funding cut-back decision has puzzled many considering the Victorian Government's stance on game development as a "growing local industry with high commercial potential", as well as the numerous export awards received by Victorian game developers over the years. It would seem that the rise of independent games development and the burgeoning opportunities in DLC market space would mean that an increase to the Digital Media Fund would make much better sense.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Bother!

This is yet another knock to the industry.

We really have so much potential, but unfortunately it needs more government support than just letting us drill a well or dig a hole.....

Seriously Victoria could rival any other development hub in the world if we had a level playing field.

I salute all at Film Victoria for their tremendous work to date. They have been remarkably pro active. It is such a shame that the budget wasn't doubled rather than halfed, the benefits in employment would probably more than covered the extra costs!

souri's picture

I guess this news comes as a bit of a shock, considering the boom in the DLC / Social gaming marketplace and the recipients of the latest round of funding - it seemed like this initiative had so much potential if it were expanded. Now would have been the right time for it.

I've also just read lately that the Singapore games industry (an industry with a very close proximity to our own) has just received S$20 million (roughly $16 million AU) dollars worth of support for a variety of games initiatives for the next three years. That's right, $16 million for 3 years, compared to a paltry $1 million over 2 years for the biggest games industry sector in Australia. It's embarrassing, and there's no doubt anymore that we have been left behind.

Canada, France, China are the countries more well known for incredible Government backing, but many other countries like Singapore have easily leapt over us to become much bigger players in game development simply because the officials "get it". It's no surprise that LucasArts and others have set up in Singapore, and Andrew Carter taking a whole bunch of Aussie developers to Singapore to develop the Otherland MMO was a decision he likely doesn't regret.

souri's picture

Ok, there seems to be some confusion about the game funding situation. Screenhub have an article about it (can't read the article, since you need to be a subscriber), but you can get the jist of it here...

According to the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Innovation, the Victorian government has doubled its support for the Digital Media Fund administered by Film Victoria. According the Games Developers' Association of Australia, it has been halved. Someone is orbiting Pluto - but who?

Anonymous's picture

There's no confusion. Film Victoria don't dispute their funding has been halved. That NSW government department just obviously didn't do their research.

souri's picture

Got sent the article a second article from Screenhub with Film Victoria confirming that the budget has indeed been halved. Unusual to hear another government department say that it had been doubled, however. That's quite an error to make.

Anonymous's picture

Im currently doing a degree in games design, and through the course of the degree, i have become aware that getting a job in Australia will be more difficult than i first thought. But looking at the jobs market overseas, i see great potential for fresh graduates to get a job as a Lowly QA pleb.

The round about comment that Im trying to make is that through Fee-Help i have created almost $35,000 worth of debt for myself, The catch is that it is payed back through deductions by the Australian Tax Department. If i dont earn money under the Australian Tax system, as far as im aware, i wont pay that back.

Given the recent explosion of Gaming related degrees, isnt in the governments interest to try and boost the australian games industry, so they can see that money again?

Anonymous's picture

Unless you surrender your citizenship you will always be earning money under the Australian tax system, so you don;t need to worry about that.

Anonymous's picture

you don't need to give up your citizenship - live 184+ days OS and you are away "for tax purposes" in that financial year.

Anonymous's picture

Is that the new law Rudd brought in this year, or is it the old law which is about to be replaced with what I described?

Anonymous's picture

the key is being non-resident, all of the changes effect only those who earn foreign income and are classed as *resident* here in Australia.

I have actually done this in the past - use the "183 day rule" to solve the problem - if there is one - but hey, who wants to live anywhere else anyway - the US is stuffed and the UK is really stuffed!!