Hits such as League of Legends have helped fuel the popularity of online games.

Hits such as League of Legends have helped fuel the popularity of online games.

More Kiwis are finding solace in logging off from the real world and indulging in computer games, an annual study suggests.

Sales of games, hardware and accessories – including games for mobile phones – jumped 13 per cent to value $392 million last year, according to the Interactive Games Entertainment Association (IGEA).

A past trend towards online purchases continued, with sales of game downloads, online subscriptions and other digital purchases rising 18 per cent to value $256m.

Most online games are bought from overseas websites and app stores free of GST, but that should change from October when a law change will require large foreign suppliers to collect GST on their digital sales to New Zealanders.

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“Traditional” retail sales of boxed software, gaming consoles and accessories increased at the slower pace of 5 per cent as more consumers splashed out on games and accessories for new-generation consoles such as the Playstation 4 and XBox One.  

IGEA chief executive Ron Curry said the video games industry was continuing “to flourish on all fronts, cementing itself as a key segment of the entertainment industry”.

Separate research published by the Game Developers Association (NZGDA) in August estimated there were 568 people employed making computer games in New Zealand a year ago.

Its chairman, Stephen Knightly, estimated another 134 workers would have joined the end industry by the end of the year. However, the sector was dealt a blow when the country’s largest studio, French-owned Gameloft New Zealand, shut up shop this year with the loss of 159 jobs.

Despite the underlying growth trend, the association has expressed concern about the lack of new games studios setting up in New Zealand.

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Stuff tips on games to watch out for in 2016

  • No Man’s Sky A large scale procedurally-generated space sandbox competing with the likes of Elite Dangerous. It will let players explore countless planets, trade and do battle. Demos have impressed.
  • Star Citizen A hugely ambitious venture that is being funded through a crowd-funding campaign that has so far raised a whopping US$109m. The game will provide an unprecedented level of realism for “deep-space adventurers” (or there will be a lot of disappointed punters who have prepaid for “spaceships”).
  • Overwatch A team-based multiplayer-shooter game from Blizzard, the company that delivered World of Warcraft. Restore peace to a war-torn world (with a weapon in hand). Beta version has good reviews.
     

 - Stuff

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