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Opinion: Why The Australian Game Development Industry Is Not Dead

Opinion: Why The Australian Game Development Industry Is Not Dead

December 22, 2011 | By Josh Caratelli




[In this reprinted #altdevblogaday-opinion piece, aspiring designer/programmer and 15-year-old Josh Caratelli argues that despite recent setbacks, Australia's game development industry is far from dead.]

The reason I wrote this article is not because I'm an Australian flag waving patriot, I'm actually far from that. Though the reason I created this article is because I have a certain animosity to the opinion that 'Australian Game Development is Dead", because on the contrary it is much indeed thriving. So without further ado please enjoy my somewhat controversial article and comment on why it is terrible or great.

I recently attended the Game Connect Asia Pacific, a large game development conference hosted in Melbourne, Australia, with my disguise as a 40-year-old midget. Unfortunately my disguise was instantaneously broken by my pubescent high pitch voice. So, after my disguise was fragmented, I set out to form new relationships and attend some fantastic and informative talks, which one greatly sparked my interest.

The talk in question was "Who Says the Australian Video Game Market is Dead? It Doesn't Even Smell Funny, and was hosted by four panellists: Jay Wilbur (Epic Games), Jim Wilson (Konami), Rod Fung (Microsoft), and Tom Crago (Tantalus).

All the panellists had a plethora of information to offer from their years of hard earned experience. Without going into great depth on the individual details of the talk, the panel was centered on how the Australian game industry had received hit after hit (i.e. Team Bondi, Krome Studios), yet it still continued to expand and thrive.

It also argued that the game industry wasn't slowly and painfully dying, but on the contrary, the industry in Australia was better than ever! It's just that the way we are used to creating games is changing.

I think the final point highlights the somewhat overlooked factor of the whole 'situation'. Yes, it is absolutely valid to state that Australia has lost the majority of its Triple A studios, but have you asked what is happening in other sectors beside Triple A development? Since the first release of iDevices back in 2007, which in essence wasn't that long ago, Apple has sold approximately 200 Million iPod Touches, iPhones, and iPads.

The App Store, among other platforms such as Android and Windows Phone, has allowed many independent developers and smaller studios to develop games for a very large and accessible market. Take for example HalfBrick, which has developed best-selling titles on the App Store such as Fruit Ninja, which alone has been downloaded over 20 million times and has also led to many spinoff products that generate even more revenue for HalfBrick. To say this is a small success is an understatement.

This is just one Australian studio; there are many others akin to this, such as Firemint (Spy Mouse) and the Voxel Agents (Train Conductor) who have seen similar success stories. So if the Australian video game development industry is thriving, why is there a vast misconception that it isn't?

I asked Jay Wilbur on the panel. He simply responded with "sensationalism". Jay then delved into further detail regarding how the media took 'advantage' of the small news story of Team Bondi and blew the details out of proportion to attract more readers. Then the next media outlet took that story and twisted the details even more and so on and so forth.

So yes, Australia has lost a few of its Triple A studios, but that doesn't mean that the industry there is dead. Triple A development has largely ceased; it's just that the way we accustomed to create games is different now. Australian mobile and social development has risen at an unprecedented rate, smaller studios and independent developers are forming everywhere across the nation, and this rate doesn't have any indication of slowing down or stopping.

So if you believe that the video game development industry in Australia is dead, please rephrase that question to: Is conventional video game development in Australia dead?

[This piece was reprinted from #AltDevBlogADay, a shared blog initiative started by @mike_acton devoted to giving game developers of all disciplines a place to motivate each other to write regularly about their personal game development passions.]


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