Insofar as creativity surrounds modern technologies, Australia is often at the very cutting edge of new and intriguing ideas, keen to remain at the very cutting edge of research and innovation. And this includes the games industry, given the country is now considered to be a flourishing location for developers and publishers.
But what is it that makes the games industry tick Down Under? Well, this nation has fully recognized and embraced the need for technological advancement, deeply conscious that investment and support are great for the economy. What’s more, there’s also an important awareness of the cultural and societal benefits associated with gaming, as this entertainment medium continues to engage people in record numbers.
Gaming is now the most popular entertainment pastime for Australian consumers, who spent record sums of money through 2023, making this a vibrant and exciting time for the industry. The gaming industry now generates more than twice the revenues of the movie and music sectors, combined. And that’s quite an impressive achievement, especially given this transformation has taken place in less than two decades.
A thriving hub for large and small developers
Right now the games industry in Australia is booming, having generated record revenues worth AU$4.21 billion, during the financial year between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023. Those numbers come via the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, which is the leading advocate and representative body for the games industry across the Oceania region, regularly publishing some of the most insightful data and statistics.
Such impressive numbers have a direct impact on the national economy, given the projections for 25% job growth in games development over the next several years, and any opportunity for the creation of new employment is always welcomed by state and national governments. To this end, they have also created a supportive environment for gaming studios, providing valuable grants and tax incentives, aimed at encouraging further growth and international investment.
Developers large and small alike are reaping the benefits, expanding and upscaling faster than ever before, able to count on genuine support for their endeavours. This includes incentives like the Digital Games Tax Offset, plus grants that can provide vital initial funding for new startups and indie developers. Without such incentives, there are hundreds of games and countless development studios that wouldn’t exist today.
In terms of solid numbers, according to GamesHub reports, 176 new games development jobs were created in April 2023 alone, while more than 3,000 people are now employed in the mainstream games industry in Australia. However, that pales in comparison to jobs in the iGaming sector, which focuses on gambling products and games, employing more than 35,000 people nationwide.
Striving for maximum immersion and interaction
Creating the most captivating experiences in gaming is a challenging process, there’s no doubt about that. While some believe trial and error constantly features in the production of games, never quite knowing what might appeal most to audiences at any given time, popularity trends often help to shape the direction of many productions, alongside recognizing the opportunity to carve out new opportunities in the marketplace.
For example, the following and enjoyment of sports is an established cultural phenomenon in Australia, particularly when it comes to national competitions and leagues. Yet sports like Aussie Rules have rarely achieved mainstream popularity elsewhere around the world. This has perhaps hindered the appearance of more games based on the sport, and those that did emerge in previous years were often limited in scope and scale.
Nevertheless, while giant corporations like EA Games dominate several sporting niches, like the FIFA series in soccer or the Madden titles for American football, one company in Melbourne is keen to challenge the status quo for sports gaming fans Down Under. With the launch of AFL 23 this year, Big Ant Studios has created the most detailed and immersive Aussie rules game to date, featuring all the most famous teams and players.
Meanwhile, the same company has also launched several other titles, aimed at captivating the sporting passions of Australian gamers. These include the AO Tennis series based on the annual Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne, plus games focusing more attention on cricket and rugby. Such games recognize the demand for niche products, aimed at captivating not only the domestic market but amplifying the prominence of Aussie sports further afield.
Enhancing the online casino experience
While the IGEA is the foremost representative body for mainstream gaming in the Oceania region, there is a similar organization that represents gaming machine technologies, which are more commonly associated with gambling and casino gaming. This body is known as the Gaming Technologies Association (GTA), and one of their key focuses is championing Australian innovation, aiming to better meet player and customer needs.
Among the members of GTA are major casino games machine and software development companies like Aristocrat, Light & Wonder, Ainsworth, Aruze Gaming, Tabcorp Holdings, IGT, and Konami Australia. Intriguingly, although recent figures in 2023 suggested there are around 200,000 gambling machines in Australia, which are mostly pokies, more people than ever before have switched to playing the most captivating casino games online.
Just as fascinating, statistics for 2023 indicate that most casino gaming enthusiasts tend to prefer playing online via desktop devices, yet the development of top-quality casino sites and apps on mobile is quickly shifting towards becoming the most popular platform. We only need to check out some of the latest reviews, highlighting just how easily we can play our favorite games on the go, all from the convenience of handheld mobile devices.
Mobile has already tipped the balance of mainstream gaming in its favor, now generating more revenues globally than PC or console platforms, and the same is expected within the iGaming sector over the coming years. Likewise, all the biggest and most reputable Aussie casino software and game developers are shifting their attention in this direction, creating new and exciting games that are designed specifically with mobile users in mind.
Web3 and the shape of gaming to come
Few can doubt the transformative power of the internet, which made our world a much smaller and more communicative place within just a few decades, completely revolutionizing modern society in so many ways. Indeed, it’s fair to say that whether our usage is for work or play, how our finances are managed and the ways that we shop, the World Wide Web is now an intrinsic part of our daily lives.
The internet has also evolved and we’re now heading into the Web 3.0 era, which is essentially the third iteration of the World Wide Web, although the term “Web3” was coined by Ethereum founder Gavin Wood back in 2014. The concept evolves around blockchain technologies, decentralization, and the rise of token-based economics. This contrasts with the current Web 2.0 era that is largely centralized, dominated by the “Big Tech” companies like Alphabet (Google), Meta (Facebook), Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
With regards to gaming, Web3 and blockchain technology are already beginning to reshape the mainstream, and that has been the principal focus of cutting-edge Australian companies like Immutable based in Sydney, New South Wales. They are just one of several groups located Down Under, not only developing and producing successfully received Web3 games already, but creating the very platforms and standards that will shape this gaming segment.
The core objective is decentralizing and democratizing the online landscape for gaming, empowering players with an entirely new sense of participation, ranging from true ownership of in-game assets to how the games themselves develop and evolve. Early adoption of Web3 gaming has led to success already in Asia, while Australian companies are leading the way for this new generation of gaming to reach Western mainstream audiences.
Bright Future Ahead for Aussie Games Industry
As we can observe, producing innovative and exciting games and software is now a big business in Australia. The industry has been built on strong foundations, growing rapidly thanks to the supportive environment that surrounds the industry, plus the thriving gaming culture that has been cultivated among consumers in the region. Such key ingredients underline why gaming is expected to continue booming in the country for years to come.
But of course, this is a nation that is never satisfied with initial milestones for success, constantly seeking to make bolder and increasingly more ambitious steps towards the future, eager to be recognized as one of the driving forces within the international games industry. That explains why Australia has attracted so many overseas games development talents, and even major global companies, opening up dedicated new studios in the country.
Culturally and geographically, Australia also provides an important bridge between the Asian and Western games markets, effectively drawing them closer together whilst also understanding the unique differences between both. Such positioning within the games industry is unique and advantageous, heralding a sustainably promising future that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.