Kiwi Game Starter 2015
31 July 2015

18 entries were received for the 2015 KiwiGameStarter, with four finalists due to pitch to a judging panel at NZ GDC on 10 September 2015.

Entries for New Zealand’s only startup programme for interactive games businesses – the KiwiGameStarter – are now open, with business plans and playable prototypes due on 28 August.

One promising games business will receive funding, software, marketing, legal and business mentoring support worth over $25,000. This year the prize pool has grown to include a second place prize of $5,000 plus software.

The competition, run by the NZ Game Developers Association, aims to help early-stage games businesses to develop prototypes ready for investment or crowdfunding. It is supported by government R&D agency Callaghan Innovation, ISP BigPipe, game development tool makers Autodesk and Unity 3D, Pursuit Public Relations and Hudson Gavin Martin lawyers.

The winning team will receive:

This year also introduces a second place prize, who will receive $5,000, a Unity 3D Pro license and mentoring.

To enter, teams must submit a playable demo or prototype for any popular platform, and a five page pitch proposal by Friday 28 August. Four finalists will be chosen to present to the judging panel during the NZ Game Developers Conference at AUT University on 10 September. The presentation will be 7 minutes, followed by 7 minutes of judges’ questions.

Originality, technical and creative innovation and commercial prospects will be key judging criteria. Games can be developed for any platform: mobile, PC or console. The judges will be looking for the game and team with the best chance to succeed commercially and for whom the prize may make the most difference.

Each entrant must be an individual, or a group/company based in New Zealand and at least 18 years of age or older, and members of the NZGDA. The game cannot be available for sale or pre-sale at the time of submission. However, it is able to have been provided as a reward as part of a crowd-funding or charitable campaign.

The full competition Terms and Conditions are available here.

The winner of last year’s Kiwi Game Starter, Eyemobi, completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for their procedurally-generated horror game Phantasmal. The game is now available for pre-sales on the popular Steam Early Access programme where it has a 9/10 user rating. The project have been accepted into Microsoft’s Xbox@ID publishing programme and was featured in Xbox’s trailer at E3, the world’s largest gaming event.

Joe Chang of Eyemobi says that mentoring and support from the Kiwi Game Starter has been invaluable. “The Kiwi Game Starter really helped to propel us from a hobby project to becoming a viable commercial one. Along with our other marketing efforts, it gave our game much-needed exposure.”

Video games have become New Zealand’s fastest growing ICT export sector, earning over $80.2 million in 2013/2014, but there is little support for gaming startups which combine creative and ICT skills. The worldwide video games market will be worth USD$111 billion this year according to Gartner Research, larger than the film or music industries.