New Zealand’s Gaming Industry: Opportunities And Challenges

The global gaming craze is huge, with more people around the globe and in New Zealand embracing gaming. Already today, the majority of New Zealanders are gamers, and this trend is expected to continue upward. Although the massive growth of gaming boasts huge potential, New Zealand’s businesses are facing challenges that see them struggling to find experienced talent. 

A market on the rise

According to data by the New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA), the New Zealand interactive media and video games industry earned $276 million in the financial year of 2021. Up from $203 million in 2019, the market has been on an upward trajectory. The figures by NZGDA show the huge potential the sector has to become a billion-dollar market in the future. New Zealand has already been an important player within the global games market for over a decade, with many of the largest studios showing international success. The ongoing boom of the gaming market shows huge potential for businesses in New Zealand, which are predicting more than 300 new jobs to be created in 2022. 

The number of gamers in NZ is growing

The upward trend can also be seen in the number of gamers. More people are now embracing games, with 73% of the population already playing games, as the latest Digital New Zealand report by Australia’s Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) revealed. That’s an increase from the roughly two-thirds of the population playing games in 2019. The report also shows there’s no such thing as a stereotypical gamer anymore: Just under 52% of gamers are men, while 48% are women and less than 1% identify as non-binary. Now, everybody plays games, which can also be explained by the huge variety of games that appeal to any player. From AAA video game productions such as open-world RPGs and MMO shooters to casual mobile games and classic browser games. 

While you can find hardcore gamers who jump into long gaming sessions playing games such as Call of Duty, Fortnite or League of Legends on the one side, users who like to play a round of Candy Crush Saga or Subway Surfers while waiting in a queue make up the other side, even if they don’t use the term “gamer” to describe themselves. By now, even traditional games such as pokies and table games are part of the digital gaming and entertainment realm, with a wide variety of online casinos available on the web. The market has become so large that experts such as CasinoReviews review and rate the best platforms available for players in New Zealand to play traditional casino games digitally online. As the market continues to expand, more games for all sorts of players are being made available, further driving growth. 

Talent shortage is a challenge for New Zealand businesses

The numbers show that New Zealand is on a clear trajectory of growth, potentially moving toward a billion-dollar market should current trends continue. With a total of 65 registered games studios in New Zealand offering just under 1000 full-time equivalent jobs, the games market has a strong foundation for a bright future in game development. Last year alone, more than 200 jobs were created in the industry, which equals a 30% increase compared to the previous year. An additional 300 job vacancies are estimated for the upcoming year. While New Zealand is well-equipped with a good education programme that trains aspiring game developers, businesses are facing a shortage of expert talent. 

The top 12 game companies that generated more than 90% of the year’s revenue are struggling with staffing shortages and finding experienced senior talent that can train the country’s graduates. An aggressive Australian tax incentive targeting the industry has proven to be a fierce competitor to New Zealand in attracting expert talent and could put those more than 300 job opportunities at risk. More than half of the top 12 game companies are considering relocating to benefit from Australia’s incentive programme. A shortage of experienced staff and Australia offering more favourable conditions for industry players form a challenge for New Zealand’s games industry moving forward and could dampen the upward trend. 

New Zealand’s games market has been on a trajectory of growth as more New Zealanders embrace games. The potential for ongoing growth is huge, but businesses are facing challenges of staffing shortages. Will businesses be able to continue to grow and keep the domestic games market on an upward trend?