GDC State of the Industry: Nearly half of game makers still work over 40 hours/week

Many work more, with some GDC 2020 State of the Industry survey respondents saying they worked as much as 80+ hours in a given week -- but self-pressure was the most common reason given.

Just a quick reminder today that the results of the eighth annual State of the Industry Survey were released to the public (for free!) last month, spotlighting a number of high-profile game industry trends ahead of GDC 2020 this March!

This long-running survey compiles responses from game industry professionals around the world, and this year's results suggest devs are torn on whether subscription services will devalue gamesdispleased with Steam's standard 30 percent cut, and showing heightened interest in developing for next-generation consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. 

Download your free copy of the 2020 State of the Industry report here!

Many more interesting insights are contained in the full report, touching on everything from which marketplaces devs sell games on (and why) to how they feel about pressing issues like game industry unionization, diversity, and inclusion.

Today, we wanted to take a quick moment to highlight some more intriguing findings from the 2020 report about how much game developers are working (or overworking) and why.

Nearly half of game makers are still working over 40 hours a week

We asked respondents to tell us how many hours per week (on average) they’d worked on video games over the past 12 months, and as in years past, we saw nearly half (44 percent) report working 40+ hours per week. The other 54 percent worked somewhere between 0-40 hours per week, and a 36-40 hour workweek proved to be the most popular answer (23 percent) among respondents.

These results are right in line with those we saw from our last survey, when 46 percent of respondents were working 40+ hours/week, suggesting that little has changed in average game industry working hours over the past year.

We also asked respondents to tell us the maximum amount of hours they’d worked on games in a single week over the past 12 months, to better gauge how severe crunch and overwork can be in the industry. Responses were broadly distributed, with the most popular response being 46-50 hours per week (14 percent), followed by 56-60 hours/week (13 percent) and 41-45 hours per week (11 percent).

Notably, we saw some remarkable outliers: 4 percent of respondents claimed to have worked an 86-90 hour workweek in the past year, while nearly one in 10 (9 percent) said they topped out at under 20 hours of game dev work a week this year, even in their most intensive workweeks. 1 percent of respondents said they worked more than 90 hours in a single work week over the last year, with 5 respondents claiming to have worked 120 hours in one week, which averages out to over 17 hours a day, for 7 days straight.

Self-pressure is still game makers’ most common reason for overwork

As in years past, we also gave respondents a chance to tell us why they thought they’d worked those maximums. Once again the most popular answer was self-pressure; 59 percent of respondents said so, while 40 percent said they didn’t think the amount of time they’d worked was excessive at all.

14 percent felt they’d worked so hard (at least in part) because of pressure from management, while 9 percent said they’d done so because of peer pressure and another 9 percent (perhaps including some of the same people, since respondents could choose multiple reasons) said they really didn’t know why they’d worked those hours.

GDC 2020 runs from Monday, March 16th through Friday, March 20th. This will be the 34th edition of GDC, and now that registration is officially open, you'll want to take a look at the (ever-expanding) session schedule and your GDC pass options -- register early to lock in the best price!

For more details on GDC 2020 visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via FacebookTwitter, or RSS.

Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent company Informa Tech

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