The NZ-made games industry grew by 86 per cent in 2012 to touch $36.3 million, according to an survey of New Zealand Game Developers Association (NZGDA) members. The majority of that income ($31.4 million) came from exports of smartphone and online games, with around 18 per cent of studios producing a game for an international film or TV studios in the last year.

"The investments in skills and job reported in previous years' surveys is now paying off in real profits and international recognition," said Stephen Knightly, chairperson of the NZGDA.

Around 16 per cent of the industry's revenue came from contract work, with the balance being made from direct sales, royalties and advertising. Selling advertising space in games made up 32 per cent of revenue, an increase from 14 per cent the previous year.

The study found that game development jobs grew 18 per cent in 2012 , with 448 full-time equivalent professional game developers being present in the country. Around 37 per cent of those people are artists and 32 per cent are programmers, with additional roles mainly in marketing and customer support.

Worryingly, 44 per cent of studios said that skills shortages were constraining the growth of their business. 71 per cent of those studios cited a shortage of appropriately skilled programmers, and 57 per cent did not have enough skilled game designers.

"While our industry continues to demonstrate impressive growth, there is a very real risk that the brakes may be applied in future," said Knightly. "Game development is a serious career option these days and we're attracting very bright and creative people to the industry, but we could do with more."

The NZGDA surveyed the 33 video game development studios who were members of the association as of 31 March 2013. This is the third year of the survey with the questionnaire partially based on Statistics New Zealand's Screen Industry Survey.