Game developers like the 'cool' capital

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 08:42 29/04/2014
Game developers

GAMING GAS: Camshaft Software developers Jayelinda Suridge, Caswal Parker and Andrew Lamb recently shifted to Wellington from Melbourne, bringing their independent gaming company with them.

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Wellington's computer gaming industry has had its tyres pumped after an independent development company relocated here from Melbourne.

And Camshaft Software expects it can help fuel the domestic gaming industry too, which was last year worth about $295 million.

The company's Automation game, which allows users to become motoring moguls, has already sold about 10,000 pre-order copies.

It started as a hobby in early 2010 but its popularity has allowed the game's developers to go full- time, culminating in a shift to Wellington about three weeks ago.

Co-founder Andrew Lamb said the business had considered relocating for more than a year, but was ultimately drawn to the country's capital.

"It started almost as a joke because it was 47 degrees [in Melbourne] over a couple of days over summer and we thought 'Oh stuff this, let's move somewhere colder'."

The three developers chose Wellington for lifestyle reasons first and business second, but were also attracted by things such as the local infrastructure and support of the domestic gaming community.

The region's economic development agency Grow Wellington had worked with the company for the past year to support the relocation.

Lamb said Wellington offered all the comforts of Melbourne, but in a more compact, cheaper setting. "It was very much the lifestyle stuff looks good, is it advantageous for business?'

"'Yes, a little bit, let's do it'."

Co-founder Caswal Parker said Automation was a car company tycoon game in which users designed and built cars from scratch. It was described as "Minecraft for engineers and car enthusiasts".

Lamb said there were not any similar games aimed at "real car nuts" like two of the game's developers.

The pre-order version, which sold for US$25 (NZ$29.14) online, had already sold about 10,000 units, indicating to them it would likely have commercial success.

A full version of the game was still a few years away, Lamb said.

The company was already working with Grow Wellington to organise meet-ups for game developers here.

"That was a big thing they had in Melbourne. There have been quite a few successful studios and from that people have gone on to work on their own projects.

"I can see the same sort of thing happening in Wellington."

A recent industry study found New Zealanders spent less on computer games consoles and boxed games last year as they switched their spending online.

Digital purchases accounted for $162 million, or 57 per cent, of the total $295m games market last year, it said.

Spending on consoles, other gaming hardware and boxed games amounted to $133m, down 8 per cent.

About $96m was spent on games for mobiles, $36m on downloadable computer games and $22m subscribing to multiplayer online games.

A third developer at the company, Jayelinda Suridge, was also working on her own game called Ludus Silva, which was similar but based on forest and plant design.

This game was at a much earlier stage but Suridge would launch a crowdfunding campaign shortly.

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- The Dominion Post

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