Less than a year after it was founded to work on the Happy Feet 2
multiplatform games, the Brisbane development arm of Sydney-headquartered KMM shut down last Friday.
The branch employed some 40 workers, many of whom joined from Krome Studios (Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, Blade Kitten
) after that developer also dissolved last year. KMM Brisbane reportedly began laying off artists
earlier this month after failing to secure projects following Happy Feet 2
KMM Brisbane is the latest of many local studios that have closed in the past year -- along with Krome, THQ's Australia and Bluetongue offices, Electronic Arts' Visceral Games branch in Melbourne, and L.A. Noire
developer Team Bondi have all recently closed.
Studio art director Jason Stark blamed the collapse of Australia's game industry on the strong Australian dollar, the lack of competitive tax breaks for local developers (compared to overseas incentives), and a decline in low-to-medium budget, "middle-ground" games.
"The writing has been on the wall for a long time," said Stark in an interview
with ABC Online. "But it's maybe a little surprising the extent to which it has happened. We've all expected the industry to be shrinking -- it's been bad times. It's gone from being a mild contraction to being pretty much obliterated."
He added that it's "virtually impossible" to find game development jobs in Australia now, but he intends to start his own small studio to work on iOS games. Brisbane-based firm Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja
) is another option for unemployed developers, as it's currently hiring for its new Sydney office