NZ gaming industry boosts employment numbers

The local gaming industry is experiencing a growth in staff numbers, according to a survey by the New Zealand Game Developers Association.

The local gaming industry is experiencing a growth in staff numbers, according to a survey by the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA).

At the AnimFX conference in Wellington this week, a survey of 21 game studios on their staff numbers was released by the NZGDA.

In the next 12 months, studios expect to create 99 new jobs, with around 40% for programmers, 40% for artists and 20% for managers.

However, NZGamer notes that one of the largest developers, Sidhe, is currently restructuring and employees are being laid off.

Association chairperson Stephen Knightly says studios in its survey are expanding to cater to the growth of smartphone and online games, and the 21 studios surveyed are currently developing 59 video games between them.

Some recent successes are:

  • Shatter by Sidhe, which was rated the number one Playstation downloadable game by IGN.com,
  • Voxatron by Lexaloffle, who has sold 172,000 copies and and raised over $900,000 in the last two weeks, split between the developer and charities,
  • Smallworlds, which has passed the seven million players mark, and
  • Bloons by Ninja Kiwi, an online game that has been played over one billion times. A sequel has sold over a million copies on iPhones and iPads.

According to the survey 77% of the studios have self-published their own original games.

Knightly says Gartner Research estimates the global video games industry will earn over US$74 billion this year.

“Globally, the games industry already earns more than Hollywood and local developers are getting their share of that pie,” he says.

But Knightly says there is no publishable figure as to how much the New Zealand gaming industry is worth. He says 99% of games developed locally are designed for international markets and exported, and studios are attracting outside investment.

“Digital distribution has made it easier for games studios to sell our games directly to global audiences. Without a publisher or middleman the margins are higher and the profits stay in New Zealand,” says Knightly.

“The business and export potential of the industry has been acknowledged in recent years, with 23% of New Zealand studios receiving some form of angel or venture capital funding.”

Knightly says developers who want to get into the gaming industry should create a portfolio by completing one or two original games and showing them to prospective employers. He says salaries are comparable to those offered in other IT-related industries.

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