Film, Television and Digital Games Survey- Digital Game Development

Survey Participant Information

Digital Games Development

This help page is for businesses selected in the Film, Television and Digital Games Survey operating in the Digital Games Industry.

For links to the help pages for other industries and general information about Film, Television and Digital Games Survey, please see this page.


How should I report employment?

Employment is a headcount of all persons who worked for the business as proprietors, partners, salaried directors or other employees in the last pay period ending in June 2022.  Employment should be reported at this final pay period even if it was not the last pay period in the business' financial reporting year. Report headcount rather than number of persons on a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) basis. The count excludes casual or seasonal employees who are on the payroll but did not work during this final pay period.

Proprietors, partners, salaried directors and other employees should be included in both Question 3 and Question 4. Please ensure each person is counted only once to provide an accurate total number of persons.

What should be reported in working proprietors and partners?

If you are the owner-operator or partner of an unincorporated business, include yourself (and other partners) in Question 3(a) and in the relevant section of Question 4. Owners/directors of Pty Ltd companies are not working proprietors and should be included in Question 3(b). Non salaried directors are excluded and should not be counted in Employment.

How should I categorise employment by primary role?

Employees should be reported in the category that best reflects their role in the business. For employees who perform multiple roles within a business, report them in the category that best describes the role/activity which they spent the most time undertaking during the last pay period in June 2022. Employees who perform multiple roles should therefore only be reported once in Question 4.

What about employees working for the business under contract?

  • Contractors and subcontractors who are other businesses, (i.e. have their own ABN and are paid on a fee for service or commission only basis), should not be counted in Employment.
  • If this business paid another business for contract staff, and those people were on the payroll of the other business, those people should not be counted in Employment for this business.
  • Persons employed on a fixed-term contract, should be included as permanent full-time or permanent part-time employees if they were paid through the payroll in the last pay period of June 2022 and Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax was deducted for them.


How should I report income from digital games?

Income from digital games development by this business

This refers to the development and/or production of an entire digital game from start to finish and any income that game generates (excluding royalties, which should be reported in Question 8). It includes sales revenue, advances and pre-sales, and revenue from in-game purchases. It also includes Government funding received for digital games and investment contributions from the public or private sector. 

Income from digital games development services to other businesses

This refers to income earned from providing games development or production services to other businesses, including post-production, digital and video effects (PDV) services.  

Some common scenarios explaining how to report at this question are detailed below:

Scenario One

What if this business made a digital game for a publisher?
If the business was responsible for developing a digital game from end-to-end on behalf of a publisher, any income received for this should be reported as Income from digital games developed by this business. If, however, a publisher has retained your business on a 'fee-for-service' basis to develop only part of a digital game, then any income received for these services should be recorded as Income from digital game development services provided to other businesses.

Scenario Two

This business received income during the reference period for in-game purchases in a game we developed 2 years ago. Where should this income be reported?
In-game purchases are considered as end-to-end production income and should be reported in Question 5 under Income from digital games developed by this business. This income is included in the year it is earned, even if the income is related to a game produced in a previous financial year. In-game advertising income should also be reported here.

Scenario Three
As part of the game development process, this business developed middleware which is now sold or licensed to other game developers. Where should this income be included?
Middleware is software that either aids the development of a digital game or provides a framework or engine within it, but does not function as a game on its own. All income from developing middleware is excluded from Question 5.
Income earned from the licensing of middleware developed by your business (where your business retains ownership of the middleware) should be reported as Royalties income in Question 8(a).

Scenario Four

This business is a post-production studio which has done some animation work for a digital game. Where should this income be reported?
Even if your business primary activity is not work on digital games, record income for any work that has been done on digital games including any PDV work  in Question 5, under Income from digital games development services provided to other businesses.

How should I report Royalties income?

Royalties income includes payments received under licensing arrangements, payments for the use of patents and copyrights and income derived from program format rights. All royalties received in the reference period from the production of digital games or middleware should be reported at Question 8(a).

If your business has earned royalties from any sources other than digital games and middleware (such as royalties from work on film, television or video), these should be recorded under the Other royalties category.

Where do I report government funding or investment?

Government funding received specifically for the development of digital games should be included at Question 5 in the appropriate column. Government funding received for any other purpose should be reported as Other income at Question 11.

Digital game development activity

How should I report digital game development activity?

This question evaluates digital game production activity in Australia. Businesses with digital game production activity should report the number of digital games they developed in the reference period for each game platform. Each digital game title should be reported as one production. If a digital game title was developed for more than one platform then it should be reported as one production in the 'Multiplatform' category. Note that this would only apply if the platforms are in different categories. This means a game developed for PS3 and Xbox should still be reported under 'Consoles' rather than 'Multiplatform'. Do not record expenses for digital game development services provided to other businesses in this section.


How should I report Labour Costs?

  • Wages and salaries including provisions for employee entitlements (Question 14(a)) does not include contractors or sub-contractors operating under their own ABN. Please report gross (i.e. before tax) wages and salaries. Capitalised wages and salaries (i.e. wages and salaries for work relating to the creation of capital assets) should be excluded.
  • Payments made to another business for recruitment services (i.e. conducting interviews, screening job applicants) and supply of staff on a fee or contract basis, where the staff entitlements are paid by the business supplying the employees, should be recorded in Payments to other businesses (e.g. employment agencies) for staff (Question 14(b)). Any costs incurred by your business in the conduct of its own recruitment processes should be reported separately to Labour costs in the relevant expense item.
  • Other labour costs (Question 14(c)) includes labour costs not reported elsewhere such as employer contributions paid into superannuation. This does not include personal superannuation contributions for business owners not drawing a wage. Additionally, payroll tax should be included. Payroll tax is levied by State/Territory governments on businesses with large payrolls (usually greater than $0.5 million for the year). It does not refer to income tax withholding for employees (Pay As You Go tax).

How should I report Payments to contractors and businesses for services?

This question seeks to find out how expenses for your business are split between services specifically for digital game development and production, and all other services. 

The Digital game development services category aims to capture the amount that business' pay to contractors and other business' for all aspects of digital game development and production, such as concept and art design, animation, audio and programming. Included also are services for online game development, adapting or enhancing of digital games content for mobile or web platforms, and PDV work on digital games.

You may wish to refer to your business's Creditors report to obtain this breakdown. If your business does not have a Creditors report, careful estimates are acceptable.

How should I report Royalties expenses?

Royalties expenses are payments made for the use of rights or intellectual property owned by another business or individual. This includes payments under licensing arrangements, payments for the use of patents and copyrights, including music and literary rights and payments for the use of program format rights.

What should be reported in Other Expenses?

This question is where the remainder of the business' operational expenses will be reported, provided they have not been separately requested in any other expense question. Capitalised expenses should be excluded. Payments made under the Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme should also be excluded.

Multi-state operations

How should I report data on Multi-state operations?

Multi-state data is only requested from businesses that are expected to have multi-state operations. If your form includes a question on multi-state operations, you are required to report the business' employment, wages and salaries and income by state/territory. If the business has been requested to report multi-state data but only operated in one state during the reference period, then all activity should still be reported at that state. 

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