After more than three years heading the Game Developers' Association of Australia, Tantalus Media owner Tom Crago is leaving the post to make way for incoming president Tony Lawrence, 2K Australia's general manager -- and as he departs, Crago is expressing his hope that the Australian government can work more closely with the country's game industry going forward.
Crago took the GDAA reins in February 2007, simultaneously keeping his role as owner and CEO of Tantalus, the independent Melbourne-based studio responsible for The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
and numerous MX vs. ATV
His successor, who was unanimously elected after Crago chose to step down, will similarly retain his role as GM of 2K Australia, the studio which co-developed both BioShock
games and is currently spearheading work on the XCOM
While Crago believes his tenure as GDAA president helped strengthen Australia's international representation within the game industry and made some headway with governmental relations, he took the opportunity to express his strong belief that the Australian government could be doing a lot more to cooperate with the country's local industry and provide it more stability.
"There is no doubt that government could throw a major lifeline to the local industry, and with the tough state of the market at present, that lifeline would be very welcome," Crago said in a GameSpot Australia interview
. "None of the major parties have openly supported our call for tax rebates and incentives for the games industry."
While communication has improved, he admitted, tax relief represents the kind of tangible support the industry needs. "While we now have a better relationship than ever with the government, we have not seen real progress on this most fundamental of issues," he said.
Beyond the issue of government support, Crago says Australia would do well to build up its own internal funding and publishing infrastructure to take advantage of the country's strong development talent and provide local alternatives to international publishers.
"We're too heavily reliant on foreign publishers to fund our projects," he said. "It is possible to make a success out of the fee-for-service business, but we need to extend our reach. We need some form of funding ecosystem here in Australia."