Greens back inquiry into Aussie video games industry

Where did the game studios go?

Greens Deputy Leader Scott Ludlam has won support to set Australia's Senate on a search for our missing computer game development industry.

“This inquiry will help establish what the government should be doing to support Australia’s games industry and the employment, economic and creative benefits it delivers to the nation,” Sen Ludlam said, in a statement.

Ludlam noted the games sector of five years ago was vibrant, and there were a number of large scale development houses in operation domestically. Today that number has fallen to virtually zero, with the remaining development taking place in the smaller, handheld and mobile gaming sectors.

The fall of the Australian gaming development industry comes in the wake of the Australia government’s decision to close the $20 million Australian Interactive Games Fund earlier this year, just 12 months after the fund was formed.

The last remaining large scale video games development house, 2K, shut its doors in April of this year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 2K Australia worked on games in series such as Borderlands and Bioshock.

The slow motion collapse of the Australian gaming industry began as long ago as 2005, when high profile Adelaide-based publisher Ratbag games was acquired by international publisher Midway, and then subsequently shut down four months later.

Ratbag was the developer of the well-regarded game Powerslide. Seventy-five staff lost their jobs when the company was closed down.

Several other major publishers, including Krome, Melbourne House and Blue Tongue, have also shut down over the recent years.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, games developer Steve Fawkner blamed the closures on a high Australian dollar, as well as cautious investment in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The Green’s Senate inquiry into the gaming industry will begin taking submissions in the next few weeks, and is scheduled to table its report in April 2016. ®

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