2020 Kiwi Game Starter Finalists Announced
5 March 2021

Four finalist spots go to Battlecruisers, Ghostvale, Rose & Locket, and Seedlings

(Wellington, New Zealand – Friday 5 March, 2021) – on Friday the judges of the Kiwi Game Starter, the NZ Game Developers Associations’ startup competition for talented game developers, announced the four finalists for 2020: Battlecruisers (Mecha Weka), Ghostvale (Wildflower), Rose & Locket (Whistling Wizard), and Seedlings (Bardsley Creative). The finalists were chosen from 26 total entries and judged based upon overall appeal, originality, aesthetics, production and financial planning, and commercial viability. These four games will now be tested by a panel of finalist judges, and the winner will be announced on Thursday 25 March 2021.

Started in 2014*, the Kiwi Game Starter is an initiative organised by the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) to identify and support the best of upcoming New Zealand game development talent. The competition aims to improve the commercial outcomes for NZ developers working towards completing their games. The prize package includes $25,000, mentorship, and ongoing development and strategy support. This year also has a $10,000 award for second-place, gifted by Balancing Monkey Games, the 2019 Kiwi Game Starter winner.

“With the help of our judges and our community sponsors, the NZGDA is proud to support the next generation of game developers through the Kiwi Game Starter competition,” said Chelsea Rapp, NZGDA Chairperson. “Early-stage funding is key to building a thriving game development community, and this year’s competition has been proof of the incredible talent and originality that we have here.”

“In an environment where financial support is often difficult to come by, the Kiwi Game Starter programme is key to fostering new development in Aotearoa,” said Lucas Haley, Senior Lecturer in Game Development at Massey University. “It’s not only a fantastic way to support the winning developer, the entry portfolio is also an amazing showcase of upcoming talent in this growing industry.”

After a delayed 2020 cycle, the NZGDA hopes to return to business as usual for the next Kiwi Game Starter competition. Sponsors of the 2020 Kiwi Game Starter include PikPok, InternetNZ, Grinding Gear Games, Dinosaur Polo Club, and Balancing Monkey Games.

The New Zealand Game Developers Association is a not-for-profit incorporated society formed in 2001 to champion, support and grow video game development in New Zealand. In addition to the Kiwi Game Starter competition, the organisation also runs an annual game developers conference and mentorship programme. It’s membership includes over 3000 individual members and 50+ game studios, and it’s leadership team works with government, tertiary education providers, trade organisations, and cross-industry partners to advocate for the interactive media industry. 


Lucas Haley
KGS Program Director

Chelsea Rapp
Chairperson, NZGDA


*This has been corrected; An earlier version of this Press Release incorrectly stated that the Kiwi Game Starter program began in 2017, not 2014. The correct inaugural year of the Kiwi Game Starter competition is 2014.