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Dunedin Game Developers Secure $490,000 in NZ CODE Funding

Despite difficult times in the video game development industry internationally, Ōtepoti Dunedin and Aotearoa New Zealand continue to provide reasons to be optimistic about the industry’s future growth.

Project Storm by Transformative Games.

The latest round of NZ CODE funding has awarded a total of nearly $490,000 to some of Dunedin's most promising game developers, underscoring the region’s growing influence in the gaming sector.

KickStart Category:

KickStart grants are available for developers to work on prototypes and vertical slices prior to full production.

Rupert Denton and team have been granted $40,000 for an innovative educational game, Spellcaster for Phonics and Phonemic Awareness, a web-based 2D educational reading game where language powers magic. Players ascend the Spellcaster ranks to gain magical equipment and build their virtual deck of grapheme cards that can be used in engaging word-building duels. This ‘serious game’ demonstrates the value of games for social outcomes.

Spellcaster art examples by Rupert Denton.

StartUp Category:

Dunedin’s returning teams have also made significant strides, receiving substantial support in the StartUp category, intended to assist games in production with funding.

  • Wicked Art Studio has been awarded $149,993.60 for Shyftrs: First Blight. This 2D hand-drawn Metroidvania puzzle platformer where skills can be combined to create combos. Players explore two worlds with different level structures, secrets, and bosses. Shyftrs stands out as NZ CODE's sole investment in a platform game, thanks to its compelling gameplay and visually stunning art style.

Shyftrs: First Blight by Wicked Art Studio.

  • FourFox Interactive has secured $150,000 for Chroma Academy. Originally conceived as a mobile match-3 game, it has evolved into a roguelike turn-based tactics game with a match-3 twist, in which player are transported into a supernatural school filled with wizards, werewolves, vampires, ghouls, and ghosts. Under the mentorship of design expert Dan Vogt, Chroma Academy now offers deeper, more tactical gameplay and has found a new home targeting consoles such as Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck.

Chroma Academy level concept art by FourFox Interactive.

  • Transformative Games received $149,983.91 for Project Storm. This multiplayer action-adventure simulation game invites players to chase storms, perform rescues, and manipulate the weather for an intense, genre-blending experience. By thrusting players into dynamic, weather-centric scenarios, Project Storm promises to deliver a thrilling adventure.

Project Storm by Transformative Games.

The funding from NZ CODE highlights the exceptional talent and imagination present in Dunedin's game development community. These projects not only showcase the creative prowess of local developers creating games for entertainment, but also emphasises the potential for games to achieve diverse and meaningful outcomes.

About CODE

CODE is the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence – a Dunedin-based hub

designed to progress the sustainable growth of New Zealand’s video game

development industry. CODE’s regional programme in Dunedin is funded through a $10 million Provincial Growth Fund grant from Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.

Further details about CODE funding can be found here.


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