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Australian government announces new set of funding programs

New initiatives to represent a commitment of AU$12 million to the Australian games industry over the next four years

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The Australian government, in partnership with Screen Australia, has introduced a set of new funds targeting game developers in the country.

Announced at Melbourne International Games Week, the new funding programs will represent a commitment of AU$12 million to the Australian games industry over the next four years.

Firstly, Screen Australia announced the Games Production Fund, which will be replacing the Games Expansion Pack launched in March 2022 and was presented as a "flagship fund."

Unlike the program it replaces, the Games Production Fund will fund projects towards a milestone rather than release. As explained by Screen Australia’s head of online and games Lee Naimo during the closing keynote of Games Connect Asia Pacific’s first day, the milestone could be release, but it could also be an Early Access launch, or a finished prototype to be ready to pitch to investors. The goal is to spread out funding across different stages of development as needed.

Studios with a budget of up to AU$500,000 will be able to receive up to AU$100,000 via the Games Production Fund. Applications for the first round are open now and will remain open until November 30.

Also announced at MIGW was the Emerging Gamemakers Fund, which aims at "democratising the early stage of game making," said games investment manager Amelia Laughlan during the keynote, acknowledging how prototypes can be important "stepping stones to other opportunities in games." She added that the lack of time and money to fund prototypes also "impact people from diverse backgrounds more than others."

This program will grant up to AU$30,000 to "risk taking, weird games," added Naimo, targeting prototypes or micro-scale games from "emerging creators, diverse voices, and/or established creators who are interested in creative and artistic experimentation," the announcement clarified.

Several rounds of applications will take place up until FY2026/2027, with the first one already open to applicants (who can be companies or solo devs) until November 30.

Finally, Screen Australia announced the Future Leaders Delegation, which will specifically aim at sending Australian devs to GDC, as games investment manager Chad Toprak touched upon the specific challenges Australian developers encounter to travel to GDC, including high costs that lead to an increased pressure to deliver results.

The Future Leaders Delegation initiative targets early to mid-career developers who've not been to GDC before. Five of them will be selected to go to GDC 2024. Applications are open now and will close on November 9. The criteria include not having been to GDC before, having release at least one game, and being currently working on one.

Since its initial launch in March 2022, the Games Expansion Pack funded 62 projects with AU$8.1 million. During that time, Screen Australia also launched its First Nations Game Studio fund, which has supported two projects so far.

Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason commented: "Over the past few years, we've witnessed remarkable transformation and growth in the Australian digital games industry, and it has been inspiring to support a diverse range of practitioners and projects from emerging talents to experts in the field. Screen Australia’s Games: Expansion Pack played a crucial role in supporting Australian independent game developers, and we're committed to continuing that support. From beautifully intricate puzzle games like The Master’s Pupil to AGDA Game of the Year-nominated word game Gubbins, the wide range of games supported is proof of the creative strength of the Australian indie games community.

"Today’s announcement represents an evolution of our games funding and will serve our independent game makers into the future — and is testament to our commitment to supporting Australia’s growing games industry. To all the independent game makers out there, I encourage you to share your unique visions and projects with us and seize this opportunity."

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Marie Dealessandri avatar
Marie Dealessandri: Marie joined in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.
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