The recent shutting down of EA’s Visceral Studios in Melbourne has led to coverage of the industry which makes the situation look overly bleak, and may not represent a realistic state of the sector.
Giselle Rosman, spokesperson for the Independent Game Developers’ Association (IGDA) Melbourne felt that the Financial Review’s article mistook her interpretation of the events in the industry.
Rosman told MCV: "The sector is shifting, and the global industry is adapting to the changing consumption and demand for games. There are companies like Firemint and The Voxel Agents in Melbourne and Halfbrick in Brisbane showing the potential in the new spaces opening up, and how th local talent in digital development can adapt to the changes."
"There is certainly a contraction in AAA development studios occurring globally, but within the changing sector lies the opportunity for Australian developers to create their own IP and even work outside the traditional publisher/studio environment that have in the past defined as the industry. This can work alongside the more traditional nextgen developers."
Tony Reed, CEO of the Game Developers’ Association of Australia, added: "EA has been reasonably transparent in its global strategy shift and, in the view of many, show a publisher that is looking at the future of player engagement and consumption. The underlying reasons for closing Visceral Melbourne aren’t known, but the suggestion by the AFR that it marks the end of the local industry is absolutely ludicrous."
"Somehow the author managed to neglect the two much larger EA studios, Firemint and IronMonkey Studios, and did not take into consideration the success being enjoyed by other local independent developers. I can’t discuss the conversations I’ve already had with former EA staff or the ideas that I have heard, but that much talent keen to flex their creative muscles is a good thing for the Australian industry and gamers everywhere."
The AFR article points specifically to the federal government’s lack of support for game development in Australia, citing a spokesperson for Arts Minister Simon Crean beckoning people to take advantage of the new Research and Development Tax Incentive.
Rosman added: "The article quoted me as saying the R&D tax concessions were too little, too late. I have been misrepresented here, and wish to set the record straight. The concessions available are a step in the right direction and have come at a great time to allow some of the many smaller companies springing up, such as to access the and develop their businesses. it would be great to see more government support of the games sector, which has evolved with the increased digitalisation of everyday life and spans industrial, recreational cultural and creative sectors."
"It’s never a good time when a studio closes, leaving talented people out of work. I hope that the talent let go is snapped up in other areas of local games development. From my knowledge of the sector, which is unashamedly more from an indie perspective, there’s a lot of promise."
"The race to be the next Firemint or Halfbrick is on, and the competitors are ready."
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