Black Salt Games donates $100,000 to NZ Whale and Dolphin trust

Christchurch-based Black Salt Games is donating $100,000 to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust after the success of its indie title Dredge.

The independent gaming studio is celebrating the game's one year anniversary and its selling over 1 million copies worldwide.

Dredge is a contender in four categories at the upcoming prestigious BAFTA Game Awards.

The fishing game was developed by a team of four in the South Island and has appeared in multiple Game of the Year lists by Forbes, The Guardian and IGN. 

It has been rated "overwhelmingly positive" on gaming platform Steam, with just shy of 25,000 reviews from players giving it the highest rating possible.

Dredge story writer Joel Mason along with studio manager and CEO Nadia Thorne, lead artist Alex Ritchie and 3D animator Michael Bastiaens left the stability of a large studio to begin their passion project.

The grant to the Whale and Dolphin Trust will be used to support ongoing research and conservation efforts, particularly in Aotearoa's native marine species.

"Thanks to all of the players around the world we're in a position to give back to the environment that inspired our game," said Thorne.

"We're only beginning to understand what a vital role ocean health plays in our wider climate.

"Protecting these environments and their inhabitants is not just about preservation; it's about actively fighting climate change. We're proud that our success can contribute to these crucial efforts."

In April 2023, the game's team told Newshub they hadn't expected it to be a soaring success, with Mason saying he thought it would be the opposite.

"I thought at this point I'd be calling up my mates and saying, 'Hey, I'll give you 40 bucks to go buy my game, and go tell people about it'. And I don't need to be doing that right now!" he said at the time.