Four Ways To Help Fund the Production of Your Digital Game
The gaming industry can be described as the new Hollywood, however navigating financing is still a major challenge for game developers. We explore the funding options available for Aussie gaming developers to explore, when self-funding is not an option to cover end-to-end production expenses.
A burgeoning hub for the global games industry, Australia’s reputation in games development has excelled in recent years. We now have a number of chart toppers under our belt, such as award winning Untitled Goose Game and Hollow Knight – both developed by local independent game studios.
A combination of local talent and overseas creatives, Australia is now home to over 2,000 software developers employed solely in the games industry, and an additional 3,000 game-development and 100,000 IT and creative arts graduates each year further contributing to the industry’s growth.1
The Australian government recognises the potential of this industry, implementing a number of initiatives to foster gaming development locally, whilst promoting games onto a world stage. We take a look at the current and upcoming opportunities for developers, from tax offsets to funding at both a federal and state level.
SCREEN AUSTRALIA FUNDING
As a national screen agency, Screen Australia is the main body that oversees the funding of Australian Game Development through the Games: Expansion Pack.
This fund is targeted at emerging or small to medium independent Australian game developers who have a maximum game budget of $500K. Up to $150K can be requested per game application, for any video game platform including PC, mobile, VR and console.
Whilst a playable prototype may give applicants an edge, if you aren’t that far into development, a document describing the prototype and its intended experience can be submitted instead. This is along with all the bits and bobs of a full application: a development plan, budget, marketing plan, gameplay video and video pitch.
More recently, the government also announced the return of the Interactive Games Fund which was abolished in 2014. The reinstatement of this fund will see $12M pumped back into the local industry via Screen Australia, offering further support to digital games developers and small-to-medium games studios.
Learn more about funding opportunities and deadlines for the Games: Expansion Pack at Screen Australia here.
DIGITAL GAMES TAX OFFSET
For higher budget games with costs over $500K, the Australian Government has announced the new Digital Games Tax Offset (DGTO) which will offer a refundable tax offset of 30%. This can be combined with other state-based incentives, so eligible projects may be able to cover up to 40-45% of total development costs – a real game changer.
So, who will be eligible? In order to claim the DGTO, expenditure must occur during completing a new digital game, porting a completed digital game to a new platform, or ongoing development of digital games during an income year.
And what does this developmental expenditure look like? This may be anything in relation to:
- Remuneration in connection to game development
- Prototype development
- User testing, debugging, user data collection
- Game updates
- Fees associated with obtaining a classification
- Adapting the game for platform use
The application process will come into effect when the DGTO is legislated by the Australian government. Learn more about the upcoming DGTO and track its progress here.
STATE LOCAL GRANTS
There are also opportunities to explore at a state level, with local governments and screen development agencies increasing support for gaming development initiatives.
- NSW – Digital Games Rebate offers a 10% rebate for digital game expenditure over $500K via Screen NSW.
- QLD – Digital Games Incentive offers 15% of eligible expenditure for a two-year period via Screen QLD.
- SA – Video Game Development Rebate offers a 10% rebate on gaming development expenditure over $250K via South Australian Film Corporation.
- WA – Innovation Booster Grant provides up to $20K to eligible small businesses based in WA.
- VIC – Victorian Production Fund funds all stages of game development (up to $500K per project), whilst the Victorian Screen Incentive covers up to 10% of qualifying Victorian Expenditure over $500K via VicScreen.
FUNDRAISING THROUGH CROWDFUNDING
Another great way to patch together funding for your game can be via crowdfund campaigns, which have been particularly successful in recent years for the video game industry. Developed by a tiny indie team in SA, game Hollow Knight is a great example of this – raising over $57K via their crowdfunding efforts.
There are a number of fundraising websites such as Kickstarter, IndieGogo and Fig that allow indie game developers to share their vision and use the power of the internet and social networks to find gamers who connect with their project.
However raising funds is no easy feat and building a community is a big job in itself, from providing constant progress updates to building a social media campaign. It’s essential to be able to relay your vision through trailers, gameplay images and demos. To hook backers, it’s also worthwhile to offer incentives, whether that’s early access to the game, merchandise, or special in-game features – making them feel valued is key!
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