Booming Kiwi gaming industry asks for Government intervention to grow

Games like Into the Dead 2, Bloons TD 6 and the much-awaited Ashen are helping the New Zealand games industry find success on the world stage.

New Zealand Game Developers Association chairperson Michael Vermeulen said the industry is booming, with a goal for earnings to reach one billion dollars per year by 2026.

"We've got companies all the way from Auckland down to Dunedin making games that are doing really well on the world stage," he said.

PikPok managing director Mario Wynands said he believes New Zealand’s "inherent innovative, creative culture" is part of why the country’s games appeal to an international audience, as well as being influenced by a variety of cultures.

"We're able to bring all of this together and then create things which are interesting and compelling all over the world."

Last week, West Auckland-made Bloons TD 6 by Ninja Kiwi was the number one paid app in the world on Android, Apple iPhone and iPad, an unprecedented feat for New Zealand.
In 2012, the industry earned $19.6 million.

Five years later, in 2017, revenue had exploded to $99.9 million, the majority of which comes from exports.

Last year, there were 500 game developers working in New Zealand, according to a survey by NZGDA.

Companies are now calling for government intervention to help grow the industry further, saying maximising their success will be difficult without it.

"If we could see improvements to the local investment scene, to government support then we’d be able to accelerate and amplify that success," Mario Wynands said.

NZGDA's Michael Vermeulen said when foreign game companies enquire about moving to New Zealand, the first thing they ask about is if there any tax incentives.

Digital Media Minister Clare Curran said the government is investigating how to further develop the industry’s impact on the economy and said incentives are needed.

"Research and Development tax credits may be one of them and there may be others," she said.

A government report is being worked on by the New Zealand Technology Industry Association to provide accurate data about the industry and analyse opportunities for growth.

The Minister also acknowledged there is a skills shortage for game development in New Zealand.

"We’re currently having to import people with the skills levels because we’re not producing enough of them," she said.

Aurora 44 creative director Direk Bradley said for development of Ashen, which will be released on Xbox and Microsoft Windows, staff from overseas were needed as the type of game is new ground for creation in New Zealand.

"Honestly, a lot of what the ecosystem needs is people who’ve shipped games as opposed to people who have come out of an education system," he said.

Mr Bradley said gaming students need opportunities for apprenticeships and the education system doesn’t allow for this at the moment.

"It's such a success driven industry… the bar for quality is so high that you need to be around those people that are just the best in the world to be able to live up to that."

PikPok managing director Mario Wynands said with an increase in commercial success, people are starting to take notice of the industry.

"It’s a legitimate career to get into, it’s a great opportunity and something that I think could be an important part of New Zealand’s economy in the future."

Mr Wynands said the gaming industry is starting to close the gap on the success of the film industry and has surpassed the music industry here when it comes to earnings.

The Government report on interactive media is due to be released later this year.

Gaming is NZ’s fastest growing industry, with offerings gaining international popularity. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch as feisty Winston Peters denies NZ First 'swallowed dead rat' over new oil and gas exploration ban

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has angrily denied that New Zealand First has “swallowed a dead rat” and that a ban on new future oil and gas exploration was a win for the Greens.

Mr Peters said NZ First had long said sound environmentalism made good economic sense and the ban was a win for all the parties in the coalition.

“The reality is we campaigned as a political party, that’s NZ First, we started way back 25 long years ago saying sound environmentalism is good economics, we’ve never changed our view on that and that’s why we’re not the problem here at all,” Mr Peters told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

“This is a win for three political parties, the two in coalition and the support party.”

“Put it that way and you might be doing better for the people of this country than to put up something so confrontational which you know we are seriously averse to.”

Mr Peters said the ban on new future oil and gas exploration made sense given the way the world had been tracking in the last 10 to 15 years.

“We don’t know the future, we don’t know how it will develop, we are pretty certain of one thing, the way the world has been going the last 15 years or 10 years is any indication than a lot of this will be wanton theory without future relevance and I believe that is critically important,” he said.

“The coalition government is very set and firm about where we want to go in the future while ensuring our economic survival and sustainable lifestyle.”

Mr Peters also said the numbers MBIE had provided about the economic harm the ban would cause were incorrect.

“Let me tell you, without being nasty on MBIE, that if NASA had had those sort of calculations, I think Neil Armstrong would still trying to be find the moon,” he said.

“Here’s the point, they start at $200 million and the gap is between $200 million and possibly not just $8 billion, but $22 billion.”

“So really this is totally uncharted territory and would require something far better by way of formulaic solution then what they put out.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has angrily denied the ban on new future oil and gas exploration was a win for the Greens. Source: Breakfast


Derek Handley releases correspondence with Jacinda Ardern and Clare Curran

Tech entrepreneur Derek Handley says his correspondence with the prime minister and former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran shows there was nothing inappropriate or untoward.

Mr Handley this morning released a statement and redacted email and text correspondence between himself and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and himself and Ms Curran about the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role and his move back to New Zealand.

Mr Handley was paid $100,000 of taxpayers' money after he was pulled from his job as chief technology officer. Source: Breakfast

In the statement, Mr Handley said there has been continued questioning and speculation over this correspondence and what role it may have played in the CTO appointment process.

"I felt throughout that the right thing to do was to refrain from commenting as I did not see it as my role to clear up concerns regarding a government process or contents of related communications," he said.

"However, the resulting vacuum has fuelled speculation and demands to see emails and texts between myself and Clare Curran and Jacinda Ardern. The government has chosen not to fill that vacuum."

Mr Handley provided to media copies of text messages to and from himself and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The communications have become the focus of ongoing scrutiny by the opposition.

Ms Curran was stripped of the Government Digital Services role after it was revealed she used a personal Gmail account and did not properly record a meeting with Mr Handley, who was applying for the position of CTO.

The job offer to Mr Handley was withdrawn earlier this month as part of the fallout from Ms Curran's dismissal from Cabinet.

The entrepreneur also released text messages between him and Ms Curran.

Earlier this month, Megan Woods, the Minister for Government Digital Services, who took over the ministerial role from Ms Curran, said a full-stop had been put on the process as the government reconsidered its approach to digital transformation.

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

"Derek Handley was offered the role and we are honouring the agreement we had with him. This decision in no way reflects on him as a candidate and the State Services Commission review shows that the process was suitably robust. Derek showed energy and passion for the development of a digital strategy for New Zealand," she said.

"However as the new Minister I have asked officials to review the CTO role and provide advice on the best ways to drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand."

Mr Handley said he still hasn't received an explanation as to why the government isn't going ahead with his appointment as CTO and he's disappointed the prime minister hasn't provided one.

"The handling of the Chief Technology Officer appointment and subsequent fall out in the last four weeks is likely to be discouraging to anyone from the private sector contemplating making a contribution to New Zealand through a government role," he said in a statement.

Mr Handley said he will donate the $100,000 he received for the termination of his contract to the funding of digital innovation projects.


Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled.
Source: 1 NEWS



MPI concerned strawberry risk could be blown out of proportion amid needle contamination

Authorities are worried the risk could be blown out of proportion as the strawberry needle scandal that swept across Australia crossed to New Zealand.

A punnet of strawberries bought from an Auckland supermarket on Sunday was found to have needles in it.

Paul Dansted from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the incident in Auckland was under investigation but he was concerned that the risk could be blow out of proportion.

“That is one of the things we’re concerned about…I’m going to continue to eat strawberries, we don’t see any particular threat at the moment but obviously when we do get reports, we’ll take them seriously and we’ll work with police to ensure that whoever is doing it can be tracked down and dealt with,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

He said any strawberries exported from Australia are now going through metal protection processes. 

Paul Dansted from MPI said the discovery of a needle in a punnet of strawberries in Auckland was under investigation but he was concerned the risk could be blown out of proportion. Source: Breakfast

‘I've been forced to do it’ - Breakfast’s Hayley admits she’s stood in a car park to reserve a spot

Following yesterday's 1 NEWS NOW story about car parks being 'reserved' by pedestrians blocking vehicles' access, TVNZ 1's Breakfast hosts have - unsurprisingly - taken different sides on the issue.

As video of a stand-off between a vehicle and pedestrian at Auckland's St Lukes Mall went viral, the topic was of course discussed among the Breakfast cast.

"I think it's terrible," began Haley Holt.

"It's a really, really bad thing to do - but I've been forced to do it.

"I was forced to stand there, and I did have people going past me and beeping at me. It's horrible, I'll never do it again."

Matty McLean said that although he'd never been forced to take such action, he was unsure about what he'd do if the situation ever arose.

"You know me, I'm very susceptible to peer pressure, and I could easily be talked into standing there," he said.

The incident took place at St Lukes Mall, and eventually led to the woman giving up the park.

"We all know what it is like, driving around this city, trying to find a car park, and sometimes it is the most infuriating thing for your day.

"I kind of get it."

Meanwhile, Daniel Faitaua didn't mince his words for anyone who decides to stand in a car-park with a tongue-in-cheek:

"You can not stand in a car park. A car park is designed for a vehicle.

"If that was me, I'd be reversing right back into her."

Video was shot recently of an Auckland woman and child standing in a spot – and it got the Breakfast crew talking. Source: Breakfast