In stark contrast to a year of blockbuster video game hits, one of the biggest ongoing industry trends in 2023 was the prevalence of mass layoffs. While actual figures are difficult to get ahold of, estimates suggest the number of workers laid off in games last year approached or exceeded 10,000, and 2024 isn’t looking much better. Now, a GDC survey of developers suggests that one-third of all game developers were impacted by layoffs last year, either directly or by witnessing them happen at their company.
This comes from the GDC State of the Industry Survey, developed in partnership with Game Developer and with analytical support from Omdia. The survey encompasses over 3000 game developers and covers numerous topics, including platforms of interest, demographics, questions about emerging tech, and more.
In 2023, it also asked about layoffs. 35% of developers said their company had been impacted by layoffs in 2023, and 7% were laid off themselves. Layoffs appeared to most dramatically impact the quality assurance (QA) sector, with 22% of QA workers saying they were laid off. Looking ahead, over half of developers surveyed said they were at least a little bit concerned their company would have layoffs in the next 12 months. Notably, the percentage of workers surveyed in favor of unionization also went up – 57% this year, compared to 53% last year.
Another challenging topic covered by the survey was the issue of generative AI. 49% of developers said that generative AI was being used in their workplace in some capacity, while 23% said they had no interest in generative AI at all. Interestingly, more indie devs (37%) said they were using generative AI in their work, whereas only 22% of AAA and AA devs said they were using it. Just over half of all developers said their companies had a policy of some kind on the use of generative AI, but AAA companies were also more likely than indie studios to have those policies, especially when it came to restricting the technology’s use. One-fifth (21%) of AAA developers said their companies have banned the use of such tools, compared to 9% of indie developers. Almost all developers had at least some concerned about the ethics of generative AI (84%)
As for blockchain tech? That’s so last year. Interest was on the decline, with 77% of developers saying their studio had no interest in it, and only 2% reporting they were using it currently.
On a more positive note, it sounds like there’s already some buzz around the Nintendo Switch 2, whatever that turns out to be. 8% of developers said they were currently developing games for a “Nintendo Switch successor,” and 32% of developers said that developing for the platform was interesting to them. That interest level is especially notable given that it was the third most intriguing platform for developers this year, behind PC and PS5, and was of interest to more developers than the current Switch, which only 25% of developers said was on their radar.
You can read the entirety of this year’s GDC State of the Industry Survey right here.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to email@example.com.
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Author: Rebekah Valentine