The Australian government has pledged $20 million over the next three years to help support the country's growing game-development industry.
Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean made the announcement today during the Screen Producers Association of Australia National Conference in Melbourne. The pledge will come as part of a newly formed Australian Interactive Games Fund, which will assist local game developers to "reclaim their competitive advantage" in the overseas market.
"Australian games studios are recognised internationally for their skill and originality in developing interactive games played all over the world, but the local industry is coming under increased pressure in the midst of a major market shift," Crean said.
"This is a substantial investment to foster this growing sector where artists, musicians, writers, performers, and software developers collaborate to meet the local and global demand for interactive entertainment and education."
Crean pointed to the success of studios such as Melbourne-based Voxel Agents (Train Conductor) and Brisbane's Halfbrick Studios (Fruit Ninja) as examples of Australia's growing game-development sector, saying the creation of the Australian Interactive Games Fund is part of the federal government's investment in the future of the country's creative industries.
"New technologies are creating previously unimaginable gaming platforms, and, significantly, new modes of storytelling, which are shaping our creative industries," Crean said.
The Game Developers' Association of Australia welcomed the news, with CEO Tony Reed pointing to the $20 million fund as recognition of the "cultural and economic significance" of the local game-development sector.
"We look forward to working with the federal government to create a program that supports growth and stability, secures jobs, encourages innovation and creativity, and promotes investment in Australian talent and capability globally," Reed said.
No further details were provided on who will be eligible for the Australian Interactive Games Fund or how it will be administered, but the federal government said it has appointed Screen Australia to draw up the fund's guidelines in consultation with the local game-development sector.
According to Crean's office, the fund will deliver A$5 million per annum in 2012-13, and will jump to A$10 million per annum in 2014-15.
Stay tuned for GameSpot's interview with Simon Crean.