The Australian government has committed AU$20 million to kick off an Australian Interactive Games Fund to support the local video-games industry.
Arts Minister Simon Crean, who made the announcement at the Screen Producers Association of Australia National Conference in Melbourne, said that the funding will give Australia's interactive entertainment industry a leg up in the global market.
In 2011, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that the global video-gaming market would be worth US$90.1 billion (PDF) by 2015.
The fund will begin in 2012-13, with AU$5 million to be released every year for the next two years. That figure will jump to AU$10 million in 2014-15.
"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 in a statement."This fund will assist the sector to reclaim their competitive advantage and support the development of games in Australia, investing in the intellectual property of our creative businesses to give them a stronger position internationally."
He also noted that the interactive games industry is a major employer in Australia, specifically highlighting companies such as Brisbane-based Halfbrick, the progenitor of the popular mobile-device game Fruit Ninja.
Australia is rather late in its efforts to provide monetary support for the burgeoning video-games sector in Australia. As far back as 2009, the Canadian government has provided funding to make the country a thriving metropolis for video-game developers.
Canada has successfully lured big names such as THQ, Rockstar, and Ubisoft into setting up major studios in the country.
Screen Australia will be consulting with the video-games sector to set out guidelines to award funding from the Australian government.
Game Developers' Association CEO Tony Reed lauded the announcement of the Australian gaming fund for recognising the games industry as a legitimate sector for growth.