Adelaide has a decades-long history with games. Ratbag Games opened a studio in the 1990s and had success with its Powerslide games before it was acquired by Midway Games in the mid-2000s, and then closed quite suddenly. Krome, an Australian based game developer picked up where Midway left off, lasting until 2010 before it succumbed to the effects of the GFC. Soon after, the emergence of new
technologies and distribution channels with the iPhone and the App Store changed games globally forever. The aftershocks were felt here in Adelaide.
Following the closure of Krome Studios, several developers started looking to take advantage of the new mobile platform, and even then, were conscious of finding ways to grow a games industry in Adelaide. Ben Marsh (Odd Games), Justin Wight (Monkeystack), James Calvert (Six Foot Kid), Philip Mayes (Mighty Kingdom) and Dr Robyn-Ann Potanin (AIE) were all determined to build a thriving sector here. This second wave has maintained a studio presence locally with Mighty Kingdom now an ASX-listed company and one of Australia’s largest studios, while Monkeystack and OddGames are genre-leading and award-winning games studios.
What have been the key drivers of this growth in Adelaide? Traditionally, access to talent and industry development initiatives have been critical to kick starting a local games industry in other countries, and Adelaide fortunately had access to both. Over the past 10 years, the South Australian Government has invested in growing technology driven businesses, with the game industry benefiting from cross-over technology applications such as, defence industries using game technology, or the simulation industry building digital twins.
Whether it has been the establishment of the Australian Research Centre for Interactive Environments, support and growth of adjacent creative industries such as visual effects, as well as direct support through the South Australian Film Corporation, the South Australian Government has built a technology ecosystem which includes the games industry. All of this is underpinned by tertiary and vocational education institutions providing games education in recognition of potential career pathways including preparing future game developers for a lifelong career in game development.
All this industry infrastructure isn’t the only differentiator for Adelaide. Another striking difference is the community here and access to decision-makers. The games community has always been collegiate, we’ve always shared our knowledge and our experience so we can all benefit. In Adelaide, it’s at city scale. If you have a problem that needs solving, you can always find someone with the expertise gained from their own industry who can help. Equally in government and among decision makers you can more easily find the right person to make contact with to work towards a solution at an industry scale.
Adelaide is well-known for her vibrant creativity— often crowned on an international stage as the ‘Festival State’. As a city, Adelaide is not afraid to boast a list of creative credentials and has always sought to offer her talents up-front-and-centre. Creative industries are also known for their pragmatic solutions to problems and gritty resilience essential to success. These are also key traits of Adelaide’s entrepreneurs. With a creative attitude, growing technology ecosystem, entrepreneurial mindset and interconnectedness among industry ecosystems, it’s not surprising that the games industry is flourishing.
All of these factors have made Adelaide a growing games hub and industry leading games ecosystem in Australia. The alignment of Adelaide’s gaming entrepreneurs and their vision combined with government policy and industry participation, has formed a nexus of technology and creativity that will see this city scale to new heights well into the future.