Some of New Zealand’s largest digital gaming companies are looking to jump over the ditch, lured by Australia’s new tax breaks.
According to the NZ Game Developers Association, the industry made $276 million last year and employed just under 1000 people.
1NEWS visited RocketWerks, which employed 70 employees, including artists, musicians, sound engineers, programmers and designers, and was based in Auckland’s CBD
But chief operating officer Stephen Knightly said the company is now seriously considering investing in Tasman rather than here.
“Unfortunately, one or two New Zealand studios already have offices in Australia,” he said.
“I would like to create another 50 jobs here in Auckland [but] we’re looking at some locations in Australia to do that instead.”
He said new tax incentives came from the Australian government as part of their efforts to build new industries there and slowly move away from Australia’s traditional economic powerhouses such as coal.
“One of their main initiatives was – let’s own the video game industry.”
The federal government has introduced a 30% refundable tax credit for eligible businesses to make Australia an “attractive destination for digital talent”.
Some states offered additional benefits.
Knightly said the New Zealand government had to race to provide its own incentives or the rapid growth in the sector here would die.
“One of the things we’ve asked for is an interactive industry development program — and it’s just things like scholarships, trainings, internships, diversity programs,” he said.
The New Zealand government has already pumped millions of dollars into the film and broadcasting sector, but that funding has been largely inaccessible to the digital game industry.
Digital Economy and Communications Minister David Clark said the government has joined forces. New scholarships were made available and plans were underway to nurture talent in New Zealand.
“It’s an industry that is valued as a country and that sees the potential to continue to grow. Obviously, some companies want to expand abroad — we’ve already seen that,” Clark told 1NEWS.
“We will continue to work with industry in New Zealand to ensure we grow.”