NSW Government Slashes Game Development Funding In 2023 Budget

NSW Government Slashes Game Development Funding In 2023 Budget

The New South Wales government has announced its 2023-2024 budget, which includes a dramatic $190 million reduction in funding to arts and games development programs in the state.

According to Screen NSW, the following programs are affected by the cuts:

  • Post, Digital and Visual Effects Rebate and Made in NSW Fund
  • Destination NSW Consumer Marketing, Sport Fixture fund & Policy, Product & Engagement
  • Blockbusters Funding Initiative
  • Investment NSW Future Economy Fund and Jobs Plus Program Research Acceleration and
    Attraction Program and Small Business Innovation & Research Program and the Bushfire
    Response R&D Mission

It’s the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Rebate to pay attention to here. That’s the 10% tax rebate trumpeted as a major step forward for the state’s game development ambitions. Now it’s gone.

Further, as pointed out by our mates over at GamesHub, this also affects a proposed $500 million rebuild of Sydney’s famous Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, one of only a handful of cultural institutions in the state to understand and promote the value of Australian games to the public. It will now have to make do with $250 million for a “revitalisation” project. Powerhouse is hosting one of its regular (and free) Powerhouse Late: Gaming events just next week.

For its part, the state government places the blame for the cuts squarely on the previous Coalition government. It claims the Perrottet government slashed $188 million from the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade’s budget in the days before it lost the state election in March. The government’s rationale for not simply reinstating these programs is

“We have inherited significant economic difficulties from the former government, including cut and unfunded programs,” reads a quote from Minister for the Arts John Graham. “We need to make tough calls and reprioritise spending to protect what we can while we focus on funding critical measures such as teachers, nurses and tackle the cost-of-living crisis. We’re getting on with fixing the mess we’ve been left.”

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association wasn’t having it.

“The landscape in Australia for the (games development) sector to surge in employment, skills, business attraction and exports is ripe,” reads a post on the IGEA blog. The Commonwealth Government fully supports the game development industry, demonstrated by introducing the Digital Games Tax Offset in conjunction with direct games funding through Screen Australia.  These Federal incentives support smaller and larger game projects created locally and encourage investment in Australia.”

“To capitalise on this and attract studios, other states across Australia are increasing and improving their game development funding to reap the benefits that a thriving, supported and recognised game development sector can tribute to a creative and technically skilled local economy. Sadly, NSW is now headed in the opposite direction.”

In a state already struggling to keep up with games development funding initiatives underway in Victoria and Queensland, the news comes as a brutal blow to small developers.

Image: iStock, Julieanna Birch

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.