Screen NSW have announced today that $879,379 has gone towards 12 interactive media companies to fund the growth of their business or develop projects for games and mobile applications. It's the latest round of funding from a three year and $3 million initiative for NSW based creatives on commercially viable digital content for internet, mobile, and other emerging platforms and devices.
The list of recipients include KMM Interactive Productions who will receive $200,000 for their 'Whore of the Orient' title which we had previously thought was placed on hold, as well as Intuitive Games Studios, formed recently by L.A. Noire lead designer Alex Carlyle and storyboard artist Kelly Baigent. Intuitive Games are working on Canonical Five, a "thrilling interactive detective game."
The complete list of recipients for this round of funding are:
- $200,000 to KMM Interactive Productions - a partnership between Team Bondi which created the internationally-acclaimed game LA Noire and Kennedy Miller Mitchell which developed some of NSW’s most successful screen productions including the Mad Max films and Happy Feet 1 & 2 - to help develop Whore of the Orient, an open world crime drama set in 1930’s Shanghai for next-generation video game consoles.
- $150,000 in enterprise funding each for Wasabi Productions and Nnooo to grow their businesses and develop projects across web, console and mobile games, including original children’s storytelling for touch screen technology.
- Soap Creative ($45,000), Bubble Gum Interactive ($10,000) and Epiphany Games ($15,000) to engage high-level business and marketing expertise to enrich their business strategies.
- $15,000 to Garoo Games to develop the mobile game Trainology, a multi-dimensional game in which players guide a train from one city to another through a challenging and beautiful landscape.
- $161,928 to Elevator Entertainment for Habitat The Game, a web-based game that is part of a wider transmedia project to teach children and tweens about environmental sustainability through gameplay.
- $30,451 to Intuitive Games Studios for Canonical Five, a thrilling interactive detective game.
- $12,000 to Creative Nonfiction for mobile game Cockatoo Island Ghost Story, a geo-locative story app for smart phones that will lead users through a non-linear, dramatic story on the island’s history and local folklore.
- $85,000 to Frosch Media for Touch Skate, a skateboarding game for mobile devices set inside famous real-world street courses and skate parks.
- $5,000 to Blowfish Studios to attend the Games Development Conference in San Francisco held 27 – 29 March.
And finally, a word from Screen NSW CEO, Maureen Barron...
Congratulations to this creative digital dozen for successfully applying for funding and contributing to the enhancement of our digital economy while keeping the innovation flame burning brightly in NSW...
Over the life of the Interactive Media Fund we’ve seen outstanding digital talent and some stunning achievements, including the recent news of the International Digital Emmy Award to the creators of the acclaimed NSW children’s multi-platform series dirtgirlworld, for which the Government funded a spin-off iPad game last year.
Two months ago, a short documentary about the independent Australian gaming industry made for 'Opening Shot' competition for ABC2 was uploaded onto youtube (embedded below). More than a few people remarked on a specific comment made in the video by Woodley Nye (Hitbox Team) on a headcount of the Australian games industry where Woodley places his estimate at "maybe 500 people total in the country working on games". It had to be much too low of an estimate, they believed.
Unfortunately, Woodley was pretty much spot on.
Cast your minds back in 2011 when we released this infographic which, was based on Justin Brow's nation wide industry headcount, put that number at the time at 931. It was a shocking statistic, particularly when compared to other references we had placed in the infographic showing a rapid growth in numbers up to that point:
2008: ACMI'S headcount of the industry at 2,000 (admittedly based on somewhat unclear sources)
2007: 1,431 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey
2003: 700 from the Australian Film Commission
It's unfortunate that Justin received a whole lot of grief for his survey which led him to write a follow-up article explaining what that 931 number meant.
(Justin) ...I am trying to establish a reasonable picture of Full Time Employees (FTEs) in the Australian Games Industry today. If the figures are out, they’re out by 10s, not 100s (and I once again strongly encourage anyone who can help the accuracy of the count get in contact with me and thank those who have to date).
Many remarked that it wasn't a true representation of the local games industry numbers and did not include the whole scope of the games industry including developers who made edutainment, transmedia etc. And yes, some people even got really angry. But as a result of this specific survey, the Games Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) commissioned the Game Development Industry Survey in early 2012 to get a more thorough look at the games development sector.
Today, Screen Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the results of this survey, the first since five years ago where they had pegged industry numbers a 1,431 back then. The latest headcount is at just 581 people in games development.
From the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
Digital game developers
Digital game developers employed 581 persons at end June 2012. During 2011-12 these businesses generated $89.4m in income of which end-to-end digital game development income accounted for 49.6% (or $44.4m) and digital game development services income accounted for 48.5% (or $43.4m).
Production of digital games
During 2011-12 Digital game developers produced 245 digital games and incurred $49.9m in related production costs.
The average cost per production of digital games varied by format. Games produced exclusively for consoles (including handheld consoles) incurred the highest average cost per production ($1.2m). By contrast, games developed exclusively for mobile and web platforms had the lowest average cost per production ($74,000). These figures exclude titles developed simultaneously for multiple platforms, which incurred an average cost of $845,800 per production.
On the release of the ABS survey, Screen Australia's Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Cameron, noted the change in the local games industry which was dominated by large studios producing work-for-hire games on console platforms over five years ago...
“In the wake of the tough economic climate for the global entertainment industry, we have moved from a large, predominantly work-for-hire industry, to a smaller group of highly skilled developers making and self-publishing games for web and mobile platforms.
Federal Arts Minister, Tony Burke, announced today the successful recipients of the Games Enterprise program, part of the $20 million pledged for the Australian Interactive Games Fund announced last November. The program accessors, who include Siobhan Reddy and Rob Murray, chose the following ten local games developers to receive a total of $6 million of funding over the next three years...
- Defiant Development (QLD) Morgan Jaffit, Dan Treble
- ODD Games (SA) Ben Marsh, Terry O’Donoghue, David O’Donoghue
- Soap Creative (NSW) Ashley Ringrose, Bradley Eldridge
- Tantalus Media (VIC) Tom Crago
- Tin Man Games (VIC) Ben Britten Smith, Neil Rennison
- Torus Games (VIC) Bill McIntosh
- Twiitch (VIC) Steven Spagnolo, Shane Stevens
- Uppercut Games (NSW/ACT) Andrew James, Ryan Lancaster, Ed Orman
- The Voxel Agents (VIC) Simon Joslin, Matthew Clark
- Wicked Witch Software (VIC) Daniel Visser
The applicants of the Games Enterprise program had to fit a number of criteria, including having at least one company director with a minimum of five years participation in the games industry. The developers above were chosen based on the the quality and viability of their business plan, the experience, expertise and talents of the company, and the projects currently in development or proposed for future development.
Screen Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Cameron, summarises what the funding grant hopes to achieve for the Australian games industry...
(Fiona) “The successful companies represent a diverse range of Australian game studios, from start up companies to larger developers. Funding will ensure an expansion in the workforce, allowing smaller developers to gain critical mass and larger developers to shift from a reliance on work for hire to developing original projects”
The deadline for the Games Production fund is on the 12th of July. Visit Screen Australia for more details and the guidelines here.
Last year, we made a news item about helping locally developed games get the Greenlight on Steam which received good attention and gave a little bit of extra exposure for Australian and New Zealand made games pushing for distribution.
It's been nearly a year since and rather than updating our list on tsumea here, Steam actually has a much, much nicer solution. Through their 'collections' feature in the Greenlight section, we've set up a 'tsumea: Australia and New Zealand made' list which contains all the local titles that we know of in there. Now you can navigate the list directly on the Steam platform via their application or website and just be a click away from finding all about these fantastic homegrown games and giving them the thumbs up.
Check it out here, or search for 'tsumea' whilst selecting the Collections tab in the Greenlight section if you're in the application.
Oh, and if your game is missing from the list, let me know in the comments area here, on the collections page, send me a message on twitter, or shoot me a message on Steam, and I will update the list right away! And be sure to give our list a thumbs up if you think it deserves it!
Black Annex is an action strategy game where the player operates the hands-on business of corporate sabotage and infiltration. Manage company resources, customise and outfit your agents before deploying them to steal, destroy, kidnap and kill as the mission and your own choices dictate. The player will need to divide their time between taking care of business at Black Annex where they’ll be represented by the PERSONA of their choice from their collection of agents, and then taking direct control of up-to five agents deployed to various missions spanning a number of unique, corporate locations.Since being selected for the PAX AUS showcase, the developer for Black Annex has posted a Reddit AMA which reveals some interesting facts about his game. The most startling of which is that it's being built entirely with... Q-Basic! From the Reddit AMA...
I really didn't expect this at all because no one has ever even been allowed to play the game without me standing over their shoulder making excuses and apologizing for all the broken stuff in the game and how little sense the whole thing makes. So when I sent a demo of the game off into the unknown to be "judged" I didn't expect a response saying "Yeah, it's one of the best.". This means that you'll find Black Annex is a big sexy 3x3 (meter) booth at PAXAus in July, and you'll find me doing a panel Friday evening at 8:30pm where you can talk to me and the other five developers in the showcase. Come talk to me! I probably would have given up a long time ago if it wasn't for the amazing response from everyone here in the past, so thank you all so much for helping me get this far! :DHis response to why he chose to use Q-Basic is quite humourous, so check out the AMA here. For those wanting to find out more about Black Annex, you can follow development updates at www.manfightdragon.com, and you can even support it by giving it a thumbs up on Steam's Greenlight here.
Antichamber Developed by Alexander Bruce Antichamber is a mind-bending psychological exploration game where nothing can be taken for granted. Discover an Escher-like world where hallways wrap around upon each other, spaces reconfigure themselves, and accomplishing the impossible may just be the only way forward. http://www.antichamber-game.com Duet Developed by Kumobius DUET is a fast-paced, classical arcade flyer. Your survival is dependent on protecting two vessels - they are devices in sync, a dance and song between two entities tethered together in symbiosis. Return to an age of high scores and edge of your seat terror where the world around you becomes quiet and numb as all that matters is the game living between your palms. http://www.kumobius.com Fractured Soul Developed by Endgame Studios Fractured Soul is a retro style platform game like Mega Man, except that it is played across both screens of the 3DS at once. It features: 5 worlds - each with unique properties on the upper screen (such as inverted gravity), shmup sections, and online leaderboards to compete for the best speedrun times in the world. http://www.fracturedsoul.com InFlux Developed by Impromptu Games InFlux is a puzzle game that mixes exploration and puzzle platforming in a series of beautiful natural and abstract environments. You are a mysterious metal sphere which falls from the sky, traversing an apparently deserted island dotted with cubic structures of glass and steel. Each glasshouse is a puzzle to be solved. http://www.impromptugames.com MacGuffin’s Curse Developed by Brawsome When fugitive magician Lucas MacGuffin bungles a museum robbery, he finds himself bound to an ancient amulet, trapped in a city in high-tech lockdown, and suddenly fighting the urge to scratch himself. As a human, Lucas is agile and cunning. As a gigantic wolf, he’d rather smash anything in his way. Only by transforming between the two forms, cleverly utilising both sets of skills, will he stand any chance of lifting his curse. Along the way he’ll need to befriend a hilarious cast of characters, convince the city its most beloved citizen is a terrifying criminal mastermind, and hardest of all, teach his daughter it isn’t funny to fill the fridge with dog food. http://www.brawsome.com.au
As applications to the Games Enterprise program of the Australian Interactive Fund closes today, Screen Australia have announced two new Games industry experts to the games program assessment committee which already includes Screen Australia’s Investment Managers Mike Cowap and Justin Halliday. The committee will be looking through the applications received and working to decide which applicants will be allocated up to $1 million of funding over the next three years.
The new members of the committee are Siobhan Reddy (Studio Director at Media Molecule) and Rob Murray (founder of Firemint). From the Screen Australia...
Siobhan Reddy is Studio Director at Media Molecule, who created the hugely successful and innovative LittleBigPlanet game franchise. She was recently named Australian Woman of the Year in the UK and by the BBC as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK. Cultivating an early fascination with fanzines, technology, pop culture and entertainment led to her first job at Spike Wireless. Siobhan entered the games industry at 18 years of age as Production Assistant at Perfect Entertainment in the UK on DiscWorld Noir. By 1999, she had joined Criterion Games as Producer where she consistently shipped high-quality titles including, Burnout 3 and Burnout 4.
Rob Murray has broad experience in the Australian games industry as an entrepreneur, designer, producer and engineer. In 1999, Rob founded Firemint, the critically acclaimed game developer and publisher best known for iPhone hits Real Racing and Flight Control. Firemint’s accolades include Design Awards from Apple, and the Federal Government’s Australian Exporter of the Year (Art & Entertainment). Rob has been personally recognised by Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards as well as the Pearcey IT award for taking a risk and making a difference in the development of the Australian ICT industry. Rob sold Firemint to NASDAQ listed Electronic Arts in 2011 and continued there as an executive producer until early 2013. He has also served terms as a director of Film Victoria and the Game Developers’ Association of Australia. Rob is currently pursuing investments in the broader technology industry.
Screen Australia will announce the successful applicants for the Games Enterprise Program at their Jobs, Dollars, Hearts & Minds conference in Canberra on the 18th of June, 2013.
Kotaku has received confirmation from SEGA that their Australian based games development studio will be closing down later this year. SEGA Studios Australia was established in 2002 as the Australian branch of UK-based games developer, The Creative Assembly, and was best known most for producing Total War titles such as Medieval II: Total War, and Stormrise.
When SEGA acquired The Creative Assembly in 2009, the Australian studio was re-branded as SEGA Sudios Australia and worked on London 2012 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games for consoles and PC. Released in 2012, London 2012 was touted as "the best Olympics Game to date" by a Senior Editor at IGN Australia, and was generally praised for going way above and beyond the expectations of a mere licensed title.
Towards the completion of London 2012, SEGA Studios Australia suffered drastic staff cuts as the new direction for the studio shifted towards smaller budget digitally downloadable games. From SEGA's official press release on the downsizing to half the size of the studio...
As SEGA Studios Australia nears completion of London 2012™ – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games, it is essential to look to the future and take steps to ensure long-term growth and success. The rise of digital gaming provides an opportunity to align the studio with a rapidly growing market at a time when the games industry is undergoing a significant transition. To this end, we can confirm that SSA has signed a multi-product deal focussing across the digital marketplace. We have commenced development on these titles and will announce more details in the near future.
As part of this focus on digital avenues, there is a requirement to re-structure the studio resources accordingly and regrettably, we are announcing the loss of 37 staff. The decision to downsize was not taken lightly but this strategic re-structure will ensure we have a more effective and agile team that will enable us to quickly adapt to consumer needs and deliver strong content across multiple digital platforms. We thank those team members affected for their contributions and wish them well in their future endeavours. We are very confident that their efforts on London 2012™ will help us deliver the highest quality official Olympic video game to date.
Australian-based specialist video games industry marketing agency, Surprise Attack, is expanding their operations to cover PC games. Spearheading the strategy is Surprise Attack's new Product Manager for PC games, Lex Suurland, a Former Product and Digital Distribution Manager of Iceberg Interactive.
During his time at Iceberg, Lex worked on a number of titles including Endless Space, Killing Floor, APB Reloaded and the Wings of Prey series, as well as growing the digital distribution side of the company and managing relationships with Steam, EA Origin and Amazon. Lex will be developing and delivering important services to assist PC game developers for Surprise Attack who have already been assigned on a number of PC projects from local games developers including Melbourne’s Current Circus and Jigxor, and Membraine Studios in Sydney.
Managing Director, Chris Wright, comments on the timely move of Surprise Attack tackling the PC platform...
(Chris) We started Surprise Attack with a focus on mobile games as that was the platform most local developers were working on. However, we always felt expanding to PC was critical and we jumped at the chance to bring Lex and his wealth of experience on board.
We’re already working with several studios on PC projects and are hard at work developing some new PC-specific services beyond our general strategic and promotional activity.
Congratulations to Melbourne games developers, Wicked Witch, for taking out Film Victoria's 2012 Tim Richards awards. Wicked Witch Managing Director, Daniel Visser, was at hand to accept the award in an industry event held recently by Film Victoria who gave this gushing praise on Wicked Witch for achieving some impressive numbers with their beautiful sling-shot game for iOS called Catapult King.
(Film Victoria) This Victorian company established in 2001 and has spread its wings in recent years, making a departure from fee-for-service work. In 2012 their original title CATAPULT KING was a hit in the global charts, reaching Number #1 game in more than 100 countries and receiving over 13 million downloads to date.
They’ve also developed the officially licensed Jonah Lomu Rugby and AFL Live games which have been released on iphones and ipads with enormous success. Both titles were developed alongside rather than for the publishers, allowing them a strong share of revenue which they’ve used to further build their company.
The Tim Richards awards, which recognises digital media practitioners for "outstanding achievement in original IP development", was introduced by Film Victoria in 2008 and it's fantastic to see that Tim's work is continued to be acknowledged and honoured by Film Victoria this way. Tim Richards was a friend of ours who sadly passed away in 2008.
Tim was a huge advocate of the local games development industry and mobile gaming, two fields which certainly needed more exposure during the early 2000's. He organised local industry events through Dissecta while running a games news website and bringing out the Game Developers' Association of Australia (GDAA) newsletter every month. While mobile gaming was still in its infancy at the time - they were very simple java applications made for a highly fractured number of phone handsets - Tim had the forsight to see that something really big was coming in that area, and I'm sure he would have been extremely excited to see his predictions come true.
Wicked Witch are the latest to join the list of fine Victorian developers to receive the Film Victoria Tim Richards Award. The past winners are:
2008 - Puzzle Quest developers, Infinite Interactive
2009 - Flight Control developers, Firemint
2010 - Firelight Technologies (FMOD), The Voxel Agents
2011 - Little Things developer, KlickTock