Mobile studio was the largest games company in the country; 160 laid off following closure

New Zealand government to ‘claw back’ $3.5m grant from Gameloft

Gameloft’s exit from New Zealand after 10 years in the region means it will have to return a multi-million pound government grant.

The Paris-headquartered mobile studio set up an office in Auckland a decade ago. It subsequently swelled to triple the size predicted by analysts, becoming the largest games employer in New Zealand.

Government agency Callaghan Innovation provided Gameloft with more than $3.5 million in grants to encourage its growth, which it has now said it will attempt to ‘claw back’ – minus $5,000 in student benefits.

The money was part of a research and development initiative which began in 2014, and was originally project to pay Gameloft up to $15 million.

"There’s several hundred companies across game developing, ICT, high-tech manufacturing that get these growth grants of around 20 per cent of their R&D (research and development),” science and innovation minister Steven Joyce explained to Radio NZ.

"It’s the same deal for everybody and there’s also a claw-back provision so, let’s say they didn’t continue their R&D in New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation has the right to claw back that money."

The closure of the Auckland location means the loss of 160 jobs – more than a quarter of the estimated 570 games industry workers in New Zealand.

Callaghan offered reassurance that those affected would be able to find new employment; local dev Grinding Gear Games added that it has offered six ex-Gameloft employees work.

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