Gaming is rapidly overtaking watching TV or listening to music as the go-to leisure pursuit. It is growing year-on-year at a rate of almost 10 percent and researchers predict that the market will be worth $222 billion by the end of this year. You might assume that this growth comes from the industry giants, the big-name development houses and studios in Japan, China and the USA. You would only be partially correct. 

The industry is also experiencing immense growth from directions that might seem improbable at first glance. Take New Zealand, for example. Data published by the New Zealand Games Developers Association (NZGDA) shows that industry revenue more than doubled from $100 million in 2017 to $203 million in 2019 and jumped by another $120 million to $324 million in 2020.  New Zealand now generates more revenue from gaming than Australia, even though the industry employs less than 800 full time staff, compared to more than 1,200 in Australia. 

New Zealand developers are better known than you think 

Even a keen gamer might struggle to name a developer from New Zealand. But that’s only because so few of us realise that some top titles originate from the island nation. For example the Path of Exile series of RPGs comes from New Zealand developer Grinding Bear, while Auckland-based Ninja Kiwi brought us the Bloons.  

Then there’s Cerebralfixis, a Christchurch-based developer that specializes in VR, software and slot games to support the booming NZ online casino sector. New Zealanders have never been shy about their fondness for a wager, whether it is on sport or via casino games. The relatively new concept of iGaming brings both together with elegance.  

All that needs to happen next is for New Zealand’s regulators to catch up with the new dynamic, as the platforms that host these games are currently all offshore. Put that right, and the extra tax revenue will only serve to make New Zealand’s position even stronger than it is now.  

At the forefront of eSport 

If you think iGaming is growing fast, eSport is developing even faster. As we’ve already noted, New Zealand is a nation that loves sport, and typically operates at a level that puts more populous nations to shame. It’s also getting ahead of the game in the eSports arena and was among the first nations outside Asia to create a national eSport Federation and is proactive in locking in some prime sponsors.  

Looking to the future 

By drawing together these diverse factors, New Zealand is cementing its role in the international gaming landscape. It is a role that will only get stronger over the coming years. More developers are springing up and thanks to mature channels to market and a largely proactive and supportive attitude from the government, the future looks rosy.  

Insiders are predicting that the industry could be worth $1 billion as soon as 2025, and given the rate of growth we have observed over the past five years, it looks like an achievable aim.