Looks like former Team Bondi head Brendan McNamara will need to look elsewhere - KMM Brisbane, the Australian studio that was rumoured to absorb the L.A. Noire developer, closed its doors on Friday, and art director Jason Stark has painted a grim picture of the country's flagging video game industry.
KMM's closure is the seventh in a burst of shutdowns in Australia over the last six years, reports ABC
. It follows Pandemic in 2009, Krome in 2010, THQ's Brisbane and Melbourne outfits in 2011, along with Dead Space
developer Visceral Games and Team Bondi.
"The writing has been on the wall for a long time," Stark said. "But it's maybe a little surprising the extent to which it has happened. We've all expected the industry to be shrinking [though] - it's been bad times. It's gone from being a mild contraction to being pretty much obliterated."
The reasons for the reported 'brink of collapse' according to Stark includes incentives in the form of tax breaks from other countries and the high Australian dollar. He adds that during the 1990s, the cost of developing a game in Australia was around half that of a US studio. Now the AU Dollar is above the US, and it is driving interest from publishers away.
"They're hiring like crazy [in Canada] and that's where a lot of local talent is flocking to ... where streets are paved with video game gold," he said. "I'm personally not a believer in subsidising industries - I believe the free market should take care of it. But having said that, we're losing a lot of talent, and your nation quickly gets to the point where if times do come good again, we're not going to have enough experienced people here to start the companies."
Of course, there's also the concern that mobile phone games have disrupted the perceived value of a AU$60 video game. "People are either buying AAA games or they're buying $2 games on their iPhone. They're not really interested in a $60 'meh' game," Stark adds. "There is a really boom or bust environment at the moment."
We'd go so far as to say that nobody was really interested in a $60 'meh' game at any point in time, but it is looking rather troubling in Australia right now. Stark said that the only option for the country's industry to get out of the rut is to invest in smaller studios and embrace the mobile game revolution.