Australian Interactive Games Fund to help give home-grown developers an edge

Australia puts $20m into game development

Australia has promised $20 million to help local games developers.

With success stories like Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride) and Voxel Agents (Train Conductor), the government wants to capitalise on its success and establish a reputation for games development.

"Australian games studios are recognised internationally for their skill and originality in developing interactive games played all over the world, but the local industry is coming under increased pressure in the midst of a major market shift," said federal arts minister Simon Crean.

"This is a substantial investment to foster this growing sector where artists, musicians, writers, performers, and software developers collaborate to meet the local and global demand for interactive entertainment and education."

Crean announced the pledge today at the Screen Producers Association of Australia National Conference in Melbourne.

The $20 million is part of the new Australian Interactive Games Fund designed to help local developers "reclaim their competitive advantage" in the overseas market.

Last year Team Bondi, one of Australia’s most promising studios, was shuttered after a scandal revolving around poor work conditions during the "crunch" prior to the release of L.A. Noire.

The new funding may inject new hope into a local industry hit hard by cuts and studio closures from foreign publishers.

The Game Developers’ Association of Australia CEO Tony Reed was enthusiastic about the news, telling GameSpot that the fund was a recognition of the "cultural and economic significance" of local games development.

"We look forward to working with the federal government to create a program that supports growth and stability, secures jobs, encourages innovation and creativity, and promotes investment in Australian talent and capability globally," said Reed.

No details were provided as to who would be eligible for funding or its administration, but the government said it had appointed Screen Australia to provide guidelines in consultation with local developers.

Crean’s office says the fund will provide $5 million annually through 2012 to 2013, scaling up to $10 million per annum in 2014-15.

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