New Zealand's booming industry faces talent shortage

New Zealand is both beautiful and hiring
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

October 31st 2013 at 8:16AM

71% of studios need skilled programmers, with 56% saying they need game designers

New Zealand's game development industry earnings have grown 86 percent in the past year to reach $36.3 million, but a shortage of talented developers threatens a stop to the boom.

The findings are part of an independent survey of members of the New Zealand Game Developers Association, which affords the possibility that the industry is larger than the 33 studios interviewed for the study.

The report says that mobile downloads of New Zealand made games hit 130 million last year, and that smart phone and online games alone pulled in $31.4 million.

“The investments in skills and jobs reported in previous years’ surveys is now paying off in real profits and international recognition,” said NZDGA chairperson Stephen Knightly.

“Gaming is now firmly established as one of the core sectors of New Zealand’s creative economy. New Zealand studios are demonstrating sustainable growth and winning huge audiences globally in a highly competitive market.”

Knightly said global and means it; eighteen percent of New Zealand studios produced a game for an international film or TV studio last year, and PikPok's Super Monsters Ate My Condo was nominated for a BAFTA.

Other titles like Majic Jungle's The Blockheads, Bloons Tower Defence by NinjaKiwi, and Gameloft's Littlest Pet Shop are also blazing a trail of success on mobile platforms across the globe.

“The success of New Zealand’s games industry continues to come from digital distribution via AppStores and websites and the fact that we develop and own our ideas,” says Knightly.

“Original IP means we have higher margins and grow audiences over time. Many of the hit Kiwi games aren’t one-offs but are franchises with loyal fanbases that will earn money for several years to come.”

The result of this success is that New Zealand game development jobs grew eighteen percent last year to 448 full-time employees.

This growth has caused one major problem though - 44 percent of studios said skill shortages were hurting their growth.

Of these, 71 percent said they needed more skilled programmers, and 57 percent said they didn't have enough game designers.