New Zealand's gaming studios setting new records amidst COVID-19 pandemic

While many industries have been hit hard by COVID-19, New Zealand's gaming studios are setting new records.

The video game sector grew by 60 percent in the last year - an industry proving largely resilient to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stephen Knightly from the New Zealand Game Developers Association says 2020 has seen game developers across the country level up.

"A lot of people have stayed home during lockdowns. So the market for video games has boomed around the world. And New Zealand has really benefited from that."

The local sector earned $324 million in the last financial year, marking six years of strong export growth.

"The market for video games is $250 billion. It's bigger than film, it's bigger than music," Knightly says.

"And New Zealand's been growing our market share."

Dunedin developer Runaway Play launched more than a decade ago and has built a portfolio of nature-based mobile games.

Runway's technical director Beric Holt says the growth experienced is no surprise. 

"We've been seeing this sort of growth for years now, and we know it's such a big growing market in New Zealand and in the world in general."

One of the country's newest studios launched city-building game Before We Leave in May.

It's already sold more than 50,000 copies and Balancing Monkey Games Managing Director Anna Barham believes the local sector has huge potential.

"There's so many people out there who've got amazing talents and skills. And it's just a matter of nurturing those and investing in the industry."

Studios are keen for more Government support, especially around bringing in skilled workers.

"There are challenges across the world competing for skilled migrants. We want to make sure that we are making ourselves as accessible as possible," says Digital Economy Minister David Clark.