Game industry comes into its own

The global gaming industry shows no signs of slowing down and Kiwi developers are getting their share of the pie – the local game development industry grew by a whopping 46 percent this year.

More than 100 jobs were created in the 12 months to September 2011 on the back of smartphone and online gaming growth, according to a New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) survey unveiled at the AnimFX conference in Wellington.

NZGDA chair Stephen Knightly said Kiwi game developers were early adopters of online distribution and self-publishing and were now seeing the rewards.

“New Zealand games studios are export businesses, employing highly skilled technical and creative staff, creating original game ideas and increasingly retaining that intellectual property in New Zealand,” he said.

“Globally, the games industry already earns more than Hollywood and local developers are getting their share of that pie.”

NZGDA surveyed 21 studios, which are currently developing 59 video games between them; 77 percent of those studios have self-published their own original games.

Knightly said 99 percent of games developed in New Zealand were designed for international markets and exported.

“Digital distribution has made it easier for games studios to sell our games directly to global audiences. Without a publisher or middleman the margins are higher and the profits stay in New Zealand,” he said.

In the last three years, 73 percent of studios had produced an iPhone game and 42 percent had produced online browser-based games.  Meanwhile, 35 percent had developed Android games and 35 percent made downloadable PC games, while less than a third created console games.

“Online, smartphone and indie games may not have the advertising budgets of large console games, but they’re the fastest growing segments of the games business.”

According to NZGDA, nearly a quarter of studios have received some form of angel or venture capital funding.

The industry employs the equivalent of 359 full-time people.  Local studios expect to create 99 new jobs in the coming year, 40 percent of these for programmers, 40 percent for artists and 20 percent for managers.

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