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Survey finds Australian industry has lost 50% of workforce

But number of studios has also doubled since 2008 as work for hire dries up

A survey completed by a newly founded Australian industry scheme has found that there has been more than a 50 per cent drop in people working in the business there since 2008, a loss of over 1000 full-time workers to just 931. Those workers are now spread across 126 studios, compared to less than fifty in 2008.

The survey was conducted by the Interactive Skills Integration Scheme, which officially launches in late March but has been active for over six months. The scheme hopes to help game studios and professionals find for-hire work outside of the games industry by connecting them with companies in need of creative problem solving.

"The business model for the Australian games industry has been thrown out the window - no one works for hire any more," said ISIS project director Justin Brow. "Our industry has gone downhill for a number of reasons, but mostly, in my opinion, because we didn't invest enough into developing our own IP.

"So when big overseas publishers turned around and said they had no more games to make, because they were giving the work to their internal teams or to countries like Canada and China, the Aussie development industry was hit hard. The strong Australian dollar also had a lot to do with it - it just wouldn't make business sense to invest money in Australia when the dollar is equal with the US dollar.

"Of course, there's also that quiet, underlying question: is the product coming out of Australia good enough? Most people would say no, but I think we do have the goods. Look at Halfbrick, Firemint, etc - they're leading the pack in the iPhone market, and I think that's the path other studios have to go down in order to succeed."

Victoria was identified as the state with the healthiest industry presence, hosting 44 studios employing 410 people. Blue Tongue, Firemint, and IronMonkey Studios all call Victoria home.

A recent study by UK industry body TIGA revealed a similar trend, indicating a nine per cent drop in workforce in the UK games industry since 2008, but more new start-ups than closures. That survey also indicated a huge swing towards the development of casual and social titles.

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