19 May 2023

The New Zealand Game Developers Association has welcomed the government’s budget decision to support the sector.

The Budget, released on Thursday, introduced a Game Development Sector Rebate of 20 percent to help attract and retain gaming studios in New Zealand, which have been facing significant pressure from Australian and international incentives.

The new 20 percent rebate will be available for game development studios who qualify and meet the minimum $250,000 expenditure threshold per year. Individual studios will be able to receive up
to $3 million per year in rebate funding, and the scheme will be backdated to 1 April 2023.

“We’re pleased the Government has responded. Clearly it recognises the value of the sector’s contribution to New Zealand and that the Government is prepared to support us in the face of Australian subsidies that threatened our future,” said Game Developers Association Chairperson Chelsea Rapp.
“This will go a long way to reducing the loss of valuable business, jobs, and resources across the Tasman. Now we can focus on growing them at home.”
New Zealand’s game development sector has been a rising star of our digital economy. The sector grew by almost 50% last year, earned over $400 million in weightless exports and provided 1200 high-value jobs.
“Our growing sector paid more than $100 million in tax last year, so we believe this is a responsible investment by the Government that is a net benefit to the taxpayer. With the more level playing field this rebate provides, we can continue to grow and contribute high-productivity jobs and exports.”

The industry has been reeling from the Australian government’s introduction of a 30% Digital Games Tax Offset from 1 July 2022, on top of 10-15% State rebates. This had seen Australian studios poach
staff from New Zealand and many of New Zealand’s leading studios to expand or relocate across the Tasman. While the new rebate does not fully match the Australian one, the Game Developers Association welcomes the Government’s initiative.

“We look forward to working with the Government and game studios to finalise the details of the scheme. The rebate for studios, along with support for startups via the Centre for Digital Excellence and the Digital Skills programme also announced today, means we have the pieces to develop a solid industry plan.”