Screen Australia, the national funding agency for screen production, have published a discussion paper titled "Playing for Keeps: Enhancing sustainability in Australia's interactive entertainment industry" which does in incredible job in summarising many aspects of the Australia games industry but most importantly outlines the factors currently affecting its growth and proposes options to support future sustainability. The report was submitted to the Australian Government's Convergence Review and National Cultural Policy in October.
Screen Australia believes a balance of free-for-service work and the creation of original content is critical for a more sustainable industry. While there is still a reluctance for games development investment in Australia due to many factors (high risk, small number of local publishers etc), enhanced government support would help balance this disadvantage. Screen Australia proposes two new incentives, in addition to the current support measures and funding schemes, which aims to bring the industry back towards growth in the sector.
Two new incentives are:
An Interactive Entertainment (Games) Offset
An Interactive Entertainment (Games) Offset may assist in meeting the challenges of sustainability in the screen sector. The proposal has two components:
- Introduction of a new tax offset to assist with the production of stand-alone interactive entertainment titles.
- Expansion of the existing Producer Offset to allow for expenditure on interactive entertainment components of drama and documentary screen content.
An Online Production Fund
An additional option for government would be direct funding through an Online Production Fund as a complementary initiative to the Interactive Entertainment (Games) Offset. This Fund would support the production of premium original content, including interactive entertainment projects, for online delivery.
Also worthy of note is that Screen Australia has allocated funds to continue the Digital Game Development Services survey, an exhaustive and highly informative one-off survey that was conducted in 2006/07 which outlined Australia's strengths and weaknesses in games development. The new survey will be released in 2013 and will be used to better allocate and measure the effectiveness of assistance.
There's a whole lot more in the 32-page report and it's essential reading for anyone who's future is invested in the Australian games industry, so it comes as a highly recommended read. Grab the PDF of the report at the Screen Australia website!