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What is the Games: Expansion Pack?
The Games: Expansion Pack is a Screen Australia initiative to help Australian game studios increase the ambition and quality of their digital games, and to transition into businesses of scale that can better compete in the global market.
Screen Australia will provide grants for production of a digital game with a budget up to $500,000. The initiative will run for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years. Higher budget games are likely to be able to receive Australian Government support through the announced Digital Games Tax Offset.
Applicants can apply for funding for a digital game that has a total budget up to $500,000. Applicants can request up to $150,000 per application in respect of a game.
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Games can be for any video game platform including PC, mobile, VR and console. The primary intention of the initiative is to fund the creation of new titles. However, applications for live ops development of existing games are eligible.
Games with co-financing from commercial partners or state agencies (including state based rebates) are eligible to apply.
The initiative will preference original game ideas, rather than licensed intellectual property. The following games are ineligible for support through this initiative:
- games not intended for supply to the general public (eg. a game to be used by a company for training purposes or by an institution, or a game limited to one or a small number of locations);
- games which are substantially advertising or promotions;
- gambling or gambling simulations; and
- games, that in the reasonable opinion of Screen Australia, may have difficulties receiving an Australian classification, due to the inclusion of content such as:
- instruction or promotion of crime, cruelty or violence; depictions of frequent, very high impact violence
- sexual activity; sexual violence; exploitative depictions
- instructional drug use; encouragement of drug use; interactive drug use
The initiative will preference original game ideas, rather than licensed intellectual property.
This fund targets emerging or small to medium independent Australian game developers. A game studio is considered to be independent by Screen Australia if it is a private company (not listed on the ASX) and it is not majority owned or controlled by an overseas company. This also applies to any related companies.
There are no minimum credit requirements that applicants need to meet. Regardless, Games: Expansion Pack remains an initiative for professional developers.
Applicants need to be a company to apply. The applicant company should be the actual company that will carry out the development activities on the game (i.e. employs development staff and engages independent contractors).
Screen Australia can only fund Australian projects. In the context of digital games, this does not mean that the game must have an Australian theme. However, the game must predominantly be developed in Australia, under the key creative control of Australians or Australian residents, to be considered sufficiently Australian to be eligible for funding.
Applications close 4 May 2023.
Screen Australia has announced 11 games that will share in over $1.5 million of funding through the Games: Expansion Pack fund, as part of the Federal Government’s National Cultural Policy, Revive. The games span VR, adventure, puzzle, platformer, horror, rhythm and more.
The Games: Expansion Pack first launched in March 2022, and the first round of funding distributed over $4 million to 30 Australian games.
The funded games include:
- Bilkins’ Folly (TAS): A puzzle adventure game from Lead Developer Luke Webster of Webbysoft. Players explore an island as Percival Bilkins, treasure hunter extraordinaire, and together with their canine companion Drayton they must complete quests, solve mysteries and find hidden treasures in order to solve a family mystery. Bilkins’ Folly has been financed with support from Armor Game Studios.
- Call of the Golden Valley (VIC): A first-person, female-protagonist narrative adventure set in Victoria’s High Country, where players must search for a childhood friend who has vanished into the bush seemingly without a trace. But she’s not the only one – something mysterious is luring people to the mountains. Players explore a country town and navigate the enigmatic countryside to find their friend, all while exploring how fact gets tangled up in fiction. This game is developed by Creative Director Madeleine Clute of O’Saurus Studios.
- Conscript (VIC): An adventure survival game from Catchweight Studio and Lead Developer Jordan Mochi. Set during the First World War, this historically realistic gameplay follows a lone French soldier who must navigate twisted trenches, scavenge for limited supplies and solve complex puzzles – all while searching for their brother who is missing-in-action. Developed with the assistance of VicScreen.
- Copycat (NSW): A wholesome, narrative-driven game about rejection, belonging and the true meaning of home. It follows the story of a newly adopted shelter cat who becomes the victim of an elaborate plan when a jealous, stray copycat steals her place in the household. The game’s colourful visuals delight the senses while exploring dark emotional depths. Copycat is created by Spoonful of Wonder. The team includes Head of Art/Game Director Kostia Liakhov and Head of Narrative/Game Director Samantha Cable.
- Diets and Deities (NT): A rhythm cooking game that players will be able to taste. In a universe drained of its diversity and left to wallow in its smashed avo and vanilla soy latte, players must help Deities remember their culture by cooking dishes along to the music. Each of the dishes can also be made at home with the original recipes found in the game. Diets & Deities is created by Larrikin Interactive and the team includes Founder Dylan Bennett, Creative Director Miles McLoughlin, Lead Programmer Declan Smyth, Bininj Chef, language and culture consultant Ben Tyler, Composer James Mangohig and 2D Artist Skye Lavelle.
- GHOST CAM (WA): A spooky exploratory game where players search for ghosts in an abandoned bedroom which unfolds into a labyrinth. They will get to test their ghost finding skills, navigate the eerie environment, figure out clues and uncover the story carefully as the dreamscape can twist into a nightmare. This game is created by creative studio ARCH REBELS and the team includes Lead Developer Amy Louise Doherty, Lead Programmer Miles Hansen, Sound Designer Chris Head and Systems Designer Camille Woodthorpe.
- Janet DeMornay Is A Slumlord (and a witch) (NSW): A horror-comedy game from Fuzzy Ghost that explores the anxieties of renting in a world run by landlords. Players will explore their crumbling inner-city terrace house, solving puzzles to try and get back to the real world, all while trying to avoid the increasingly menacing behaviour of their landlord Janet, who is a witch. The creative team includes founders Pete Foley and Scott Ford.
- Misc. A Tiny Tale (WA): A 3D platforming adventure game from Tinyware Games and Lead Developer Michael Pearce. Players join Buddy and Bag Boy, two adorable robots made of miscellaneous items, as they lend a hand to other robots, make a difference by cleaning up mess, and follow an exciting journey.
- Pasture: The Livestock Simulator (NT): Set in the Australian Outback, players experience the highs and lows of being a pastoralist, doing battle with the weather, the markets, and Mother Nature as they build their Cattle Empire. This farming simulator game comes from Salty Games, including Managing Director Chas Cole, Lead Programmer Luke H and Creative Director Nathan Groves.
- The Sacred Acorn (SA): An adventure game from A Few Dragons where players explore the beautiful, mysterious land of Tansira as Ima, an adorably courageous squirrel. They must solve puzzles, discover secrets, defeat corrupted enemies, and make strange, cute friends that will guide them on their quest. The creative team includes Developer Keirron Stach, Art Director Lauren Nicholls and Producer Vivian Vandal.
- Trash (VIC): An online co-op survival craft adventure game set in E-Corp Island, a beautiful post-human world where strange and wondrous trash-based life thrives. Players must explore the island’s different open world biomes, collecting materials and crafting different character forms which give them unique abilities to survive the environment and solve challenges. Created by Bin Chicken Studios, the Technical Director is Nick Margerison and Creative Director is Charlie Kenihan. Developed with the assistance of VicScreen.