Kotaku Australia is reporting on a development in the recent Victorian state budget which has removed funding to Film Victoria for video game projects, potentially resulting in the cancellation of a Film Victoria grants scheme supporting local video game development if alternate funding sources are not obtained. Melbourne based developer Big Ant has previously been a beneficiary under the scheme, with CEO Ross Symons being “thrilled with the Victorian Coalition Government’s continued support for the Australian games industry” just months prior to the recent budget announcement.
Big Ant would be known mostly to the Cricket Games community for plans to release two cricket games, the casual Table Top Cricket as well as a yet to be titled full 3D console simulation game, with Table Top Cricket among those titles being funded under the Film Victoria scheme, funding that also supports the ongoing viability of the industry as the high Australian Dollar leads to lower potential for overseas investment.
Melbourne has historically been the location for development of a number of cricket titles, including Beam Software/Melbourne House’s multiple releases from International Cricket on the NES to developing EA Sports Cricket 97 for PC and most recently Trickstar Games’ International Cricket 2010.
Government funding has long been a debating point for both the local industry and UK based developers, with demands for support on a similar level to that seen invested by Canadian Governments in their local video games industry, the location for the more recent EA Sports Cricket games from Nova Scotia based HB Studios and the ever-delayed Cricket Life by Ontario based Gamebience. With cost pressures increasing in Australia and the UK, the already small cricket video games market could be set for greater challenges in the future.
Film Victoria has yet to make an official announcement on the future of the program, however the cut in funding will likely mean any remaining program will not be able to maintain the current levels of investment at a time of heavy job losses and studio closures in the Australian video gaming industry.