New Zealand game studios earned NZD $434.4 million in FY23

The New Zealand games industry continues to grow, despite competition from Australia.
DREDGE key art light house movie

A new report from the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) has revealed steady growth of 7% year-on-year for the local New Zealand games industry, and a revenue of NZD $434.4 million for studios in the year to 31 March 2023.

Dredge from Black Salt Games is noted as being a strong contributor to this growth, with the Ōtautahi, Christchurch-developed game winning many global awards in 2023, and bringing much attention to the New Zealand games sector. As noted in the NZGDA report, it was nominated for Indie Game of the Year at The Game Awards, and was featured in Game of the Year lists by Time Magazine and NME (and also GamesHub).

“Successes like this show that regardless of industry challenges we continue to bat above our weight here in Aotearoa and can deliver high-end and engaging experiences to the masses,” Carl Leducq, New Zealand Game Developers Association Chairperson said of the game’s success.

It was a shining light in 2023, and seemingly helped to fend off an array of challenges facing New Zealand game developers – the most notable threat being Australian tax incentives. As noted by the NZGDA, while the local games industry grew by 7% year-on-year, it had grown by 47% in the year prior. While multiple factors are likely at play – including economic circumstances – the NZGDA claimed a battle for talent between Australia and New Zealand had curbed local growth rates.

Read: Australian video game industry revenue rises to $345.5 million

“Australia’s tax incentives deeply affected our industry over the past two years, constraining our studios in the battle for talent and curbing growth,” Leducq said. “However, the commitment to the New Zealand Game Development Sector Rebate means the sector’s strong growth will resume. Our studios have stood strong amidst these challenges, and I am certain of their resilience and potential for future success.”

To compete with Australia’s local games support and incentives – which include individual state-based funding for game developers, and incoming tax breaks from the DGTO – the New Zealand government has introduced a new Game Development Sector Rebate for the 2024 budget, and this is expected to aid continued growth in the local New Zealand games sector.

With this introduction, and following a tough year, the NZGDA reports studios are now “more positive” about their hiring plans for the new year, with 51% of studios planning to hire additional staff. Skills shortages and a lack of hiring diversity remain key challenges to overcome, but it appears New Zealand game developers are prepared to tackle them head-on.

You can read more about the growth of the local New Zealand games industry and its future trajectory on the NZGDA website.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.