New Zealand might not be Hollywood, but it’s become something of an entertainment hotspot in recent years. Spurred on by Peter Jackson’s decision to shoot Lord of the Rings in the picturesque country, the local entertainment sector has surged since the turn of the millennium.
The latest subsector of the industry to blossom is gaming. For example, if you look at a new online casino in New Zealand, such as Scatters, you can see why these sites have flourished. As well as hundreds of games from international developers like Evolution, Scatters also provides a number of incentives. Free bets and loyalty rewards are designed to attract a much broader audience than land-based casinos have traditionally welcomed, and the scope for variation and genre diversity is undoubtedly impressive.
However, before games became the order of the day, New Zealand’s links with big and small screens established the country’s links with the entertainment world at large. Of course, Lord of the Rings is the go-to example. However, the roots run deeper. Go back to 1995 and Xena: Warrior Prince was slashing her way across New Zealand’s rich terrain. The show was written, directed, and produced by American Robert Tapert. The project forged a link between the US entertainment industry and New Zealand. Moreover, it showed the world at large what the country has to offer.
Ups and Downs for New Zealand’s Entertainment Sector
Peter Jackson clearly took note as he split his three Lord of the Rings productions between the US and New Zealand. We all know how well the franchise did at the box office (US$5.8 billion), but it also gave the local entertainment sector a boost. However, the successes of the past don’t guarantee success in the future. From its heydays in the late nineties and early noughties, the local scene has lost some of its allure. Screen revenue (i.e. income from the movie industry) topped $3.5 billion in 2017. But, in 2018, this had dropped by 8%.
Despite the drop in screen revenue, the success of major movie and TV projects has inspired creative types across all types of media. Buoyed by the idea they too can make an impact, those in gaming have followed suit. Indeed, as movies offerings have dipped, games have taken centre stage. Today, the industry is worth over NZ$200 million.
Casino operators are contributing to that total, but so to are those in the video gaming sector. For example, Path of Exile was developed by New Zealand’s Grinding Gear Games. The software has evolved significantly since its release in 2013 and, in 2020, it was voted as the Best Evolving Game at the 16th British Academy Games Awards. For all intents and purposes, New Zealand has either produced or played host to some major hits in the entertainment world over the last 25 years.
Games Are Serious Business in New Zealand
It’s much the same elsewhere in the gaming sector. Companies such as Eyemobi have fused gaming with business. Eyemobi gives businesses new ways to engage audiences through innovative apps and games. Again, much like online casinos, these products are reaching out to a broader audience. Instead of focusing on “hardcore” gamers, Eyemobi is aiming its products at business owners and the general public at large.
The upshot of casting a wider net is that New Zealand’s gaming industry is thriving. Therefore, while certain parts of the local entertainment scene are on the decline, those with an interest in online games are enjoying a renaissance.