The New Zealand video game development industry grew by 46% this year, boosted by the huge growth of smartphone and online games. 114 game development jobs were created in the 12 months to September 2011 and the industry now employs the equivalent of 359 full-time people.
In addition, local game studios expect to create 99 new jobs in the coming 12 months. Approximately 40% of these will be for programmers, 40% for artists and 20% for managers.
The results come from a survey of New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) members unveiled at the AnimFX gaming, animation and visual effects conference happening at Te Papa, Wellington this week.
“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,” says NZGDA chairperson Stephen Knightly.
21 games studios were surveyed, who are currently developing 59 video games between them. 77% of those studios have self-published their own original games.
“Globally, the games industry already earns more than Hollywood and local developers are getting their share of that pie,” says Knightly.
The global video games industry will earn over USD$74 billion this year according to Gartner Research.
New Zealand studios have particularly benefitted from the rise of smartphone and online gaming. In the last three years, 73% of studios had produced an iPhone game and 42% had produced online browser-based games. 35% had developed Android games and 35% made downloadable PC games, while just 30% had produced 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. Our distance from the rest of the world meant that New Zealand game developers were early adopters of online digital distribution and self-publishing, and we’re seeing the positive results of that investment now,” says Knightly.
Examples of recent Kiwi game company successes include:
Shatter by Wellington’s Sidhe, rated #1 PlayStation Network downloadable game by IGN.com.
Bloons by Auckland-based Ninja Kiwi, an online game played well over one billion times. One of its sequels Bloons Tower Defence 4 has sold more than a million copies on iPhone and iPad.
SmallWorlds, a fast-growing social game world which has passed the seven million players mark.
Chopper 2 by Majic Jungle was a Mac App Store launch day hit, selling over 100,000 copies in one week.
Voxatron by Lexaloffle, which headlined a recent hit ‘Humble Indie Bundle’.
Five games from Wellington smartphone game developer PikPok have been downloaded over a million times each.
Sparx by Metia Interactive in Auckland, which won a UN World Summit Award and has been clinically shown to help teenagers manage depression.
99% of games developed in New Zealand are 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,” says Knightly.
The business and export potential of the industry has been acknowledged in recent years, with 23% of New Zealand studios receiving some form of angel or venture capital funding.
The survey of 21 games studios was conducted in September 2011 by the New Zealand Game Developers Association.
About the New Zealand Game Developers Association
The NZGDA is a not-for-profit industry association representing game studios, indie game developers and individuals working in the video game development industry in New Zealand. Its members employ over 360 full-time equivalent game developers, in hi-tech, creative export jobs.
The Association was originally formed in 2001 to support and develop the video games development industry locally. It runs the www.nzgda.com website, the www.playmaker.org.nz developer community, the monthly Auckland Game Developers Meetups, 48-hour Global Game Jam contests as well as providing support, advice and networking for members.
The current chairperson is Stephen Knightly, Managing Director of Auckland games studio InGame. For more information visit www.nzgda.com.