NZ gaming companies investing in Australia

Logan Church
Source: 1News

Some of New Zealand’s biggest digital gaming companies are looking to jump across the ditch, attracted by Australia's new tax incentives.

According to the NZ Game Developers Association, the sector made $276 million last year and employed just under a 1000 people.

1NEWS visited RocketWerks, which employed 70 staff, including artists, musicians, audio engineers, programmers and designers, and was based in the Auckland CBD

But chief operating officer Stephen Knightly said the company was now seriously considering investing across the Tasman instead of here.

"Unfortunately, one or two New Zealand studios have already set up offices in Australia," he said.

"I'd like to make 50 more jobs here in Auckland [but] we are looking at some locations in Australia to do that instead."

He said new tax incentives by the Australian government came as part of their efforts to build new industries there, and slowly move away from Australia’s traditional economic powerhouses, such as coal.

"One of their major initiatives was - let's own the video game industry."

The federal government introduced a 30% refundable tax offset for eligible business to help make Australia an "attractive destination for digital talent".

Some states offered additional benefits.

Knightly said the New Zealand Government needed to race to offer its own incentives, or risk seeing the rapid growth in the sector here fizzle out.

"One of the things we asked for is an interactive industry development programme - and it's just things like scholarships, training, internships, diversity programmes," he said.

The New Zealand Government already pumped millions of dollars into the film and broadcasting sectors but that funding was mostly inaccessible for the digital games industry.

Digital Economy and Communications Minister David Clark said the Government was stepping up. New grants were being made available and work was underway to develop plans that would help foster talent in New Zealand.

"It is an industry that is valued as a country and can see the potential to continue to grow. Obviously, some companies will want to expand overseas - we've seen that already," Clark told 1NEWS.

"We'll continue to work with the industry in New Zealand to make sure we grow."