Indie game funding in Australia

So I didn’t attend much of Freeplay this year, but I did catch a session on the public funding available in Australia and Victoria for independent game developers.This post contains some information I gleaned, and may or may not be entirely factual!

The session was composed of four representatives from the different funding bodies, the Australia Council for the Arts, Film Victoria, Screen Australia and Multimedia Victoria. Let’s call them Ozco, FV, SA, and MMV for short. In order, Ozco, FV, SA and MMV, are increasingly interested in the commercial component and increasingly disinterested in the artistic component of your work. At the extremes, Ozco is concerned with artistic works and MMV is only concerned with making money. FV and SA fall in between…

In Film making jargon, the bodies can be split among four aspects of the game making process: conceptual, development, production, and marketing. What these are is pretty obvious, however, ‘development’ refers to the development of ideas, prototypes, etc, and ‘production’ refers to the actual development of the thing. This discrepancy exists because SA and FV were originally set up to fund films.

Anyways, so, how do independent developers get some cold hard cash to make the next SleepIsDeath, Limbo, or ZenoClash?

If the project is ‘arty’ then the Ozco should be your first port of call. They have a very restricted budget, but they do have some funding in the form of the Digital Culture Grant (see Escape from Woomera). Ozco can fund from conceptual through to production, but the chances of getting some small amount of money rest on the artistic merit of your project.

SA are interested in commercial projects, that have prototypes and scripts. Through their Innovation Program they could provide up to $30k for the development phase. When assessing proposals, SA looks in the following categories, called the five C’s. Content, Context, Collaboration, Culture and Commerce. A successful proposal would tick some or all of these boxes. Content is fairly obvious. Context – does the delivery method / interactivity model match the content? Collaboration – This grant is aimed at assisting professional development, so a project involving the collaboration between different fields is highly looked upon (e.g., matching a film director with a games programmer). Culture – Does the project have cultural merit? Commerce – because money is nice.

SA has up to $250k to assist in production. You are more likely to be successful in receiving a grant if you have a private funding also set up. They also have a ‘serious games’ initiative, for those who are serious. The SA production fund typically also includes money for marketing.

FV is interested in funding commercial development also, typically they can help to develop a section of the game in order to attract other investors.The projects they are interested in engage the audience, and they are interested in mixing people from different backgrounds. They can help from the development, production and marketing perspectives (and maybe/possibly can help with the concept exploration phase.)

MMV – these guys are serious about developing the ICT sector in Victoria, and typically fund only the marketing phase of a project. You have to have a commercially viable project, and then they’ll fund things like trips to trade fairs or stalls (in places like the GDC).

So that’s all I’ve got in my notes. HTH. B.