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According to the GDC 2024 State of the Game Industry report, about a third of game developers were affected by a layoff in 2023.
January 22, 2024
3 Min Read
Image via Adobe Stock.
At a Glance
- One-third of game developers report being impacted by the wave of layoffs in 2023.
- That impact may be even larger after a brutal wave of layoffs hit the industry later in the year.
According to the GDC 2024 State of the Game Industry report (a project we at Game Developer contributed to, alongside colleagues at our sibling organization GDC), about a third of game developers noted they were affected by a layoff last year, either personally or by seeing colleagues at their studio let go.
The survey was conducted last fall, and the numbers were challenging: around 9 percent of the 3000 or so respondents said they were laid off in 2023. An additional 17 percent said colleagues were let go, and another 11 percent said there were layoffs at their studio in other teams/departments.
Notably, and perhaps, unsurprisingly given what we know about studio culture, there were some fairly large disparities among disciplines when it came to layoffs. QA professionals were hit the hardest, with 22 percent responding they had been laid off. People in business and finance roles reported the least layoffs (at 2 percent).
Largely, developers are also (understandably) worried about further layoffs, a statistic that has grimly loomed large as January started off with more and more news about redundancies of studios large and small. A bit over half of the survey respondents (56 percent) replied to the question of “how concerned are you that your company will see layoffs in the next 12 months,” with “very concerned,” “somewhat concerned,” or “slightly concerned.”
More game industry layoffs in 2024
Again, the research was conducted in fall of 2023, before November and December’s waves of layoffs commenced. This was also before the nearly 3,000 layoffs we’ve seen in the first few weeks of January 2024 alone. The very day the SOTI report launched (on January 18), we reported on multiple studios announcing redundancies, including a report on Indie Studio Threaks closing down entirely. We noted in our 2023 wrap-up piece on trends that last year was absolutely brutal for game developers, and there have been no signs of letting up.
Some developers in the survey used the open response category to comment on the situation, either attempting to make sense of what’s going on in the industry, or just noting how they have been affected.
One developer said “Studios grew too quickly during the pandemic and people are spending less money on games during a cost-of-living crisis. The bubble is sadly bursting. I hope it creates new start-ups that revolutionize how we develop games and sets a precedent for larger studios to follow by.”
Another said “It is worrying and concerning, it’s impacting my ability to get a new job to get away from the company I am in. I feel forced to stay in a toxic environment,” and still another noted the dire need for better workplace protections: “I hope that it will lead to more unionization. If no consequences happen for the employers, then layoffs en masse will keep happening and grow.”
Game Developer and GDC are sibling companies under Informa Tech. The 2024 State of the Industry report was produced in a collaboration between Game Developer and Game Developers Conference.
About the Author(s)
Danielle is the editor-in-chief of Game Developer, with previous editorial posts at Fanbyte, VICE, and Polygon. She’s also a lecturer in game design at the Berklee College of Music, and a hobbyist game developer in her spare time.
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