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GDC 2023 State of the Game Industry: Devs weigh in on the metaverse, player toxicity, and more

In this year's GDC State of the Game Industry survey, we found more developers are moving to hybrid remote-office schedules; they're divided on the rise in major studio acquisitions; and their opinions on the use of blockchain technology in games are more complicated than they may seem at first glance.

This past year has been a time of change and opportunity—as studios and companies work towards a new normal, game developers have their eye on how to reshape the industry and their role in it. The future seems bright, but also a bit uncertain, and this year's State of the Game Industry reflects this.

The Game Developers Conference has released the results of the 11th annual State of the Game Industry survey, revealing trends and insights in the game industry ahead of GDC 2023, which will be held at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center from March 20-24, 2023.

Click here for free download of 2023 GDC State of the Game Industry report

This year's survey reflects the perspectives of over 2,300 game industry professionals, with a margin of error at +/-3% at a 99% confidence level. We found that more developers are moving to hybrid remote-office schedules (not all by choice); they're divided on the rise in major studio acquisitions; and their opinions on the use of blockchain technology in games are more complicated than they may seem at first glance.

This year's report marks the first collaboration with Game Developer on the State of the Game Industry report, with the two teams working together to provide more context and clarity for the survey results. In addition, Game Developer Talks will be hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 10-11:30am PT (1-2:30pm ET) to discuss the results of this year's survey with industry professionals. Click here to register for this free webinar.

Here are some highlights from the 2023 State of the Game Industry Report—for a free copy of the full report, head here.

Developers point to ‘Fortnite’ as likely metaverse winner, though some remain skeptical

When asked which company is best positioned to deliver on the promise of the metaverse, Epic Games/Fortnite earned 14% of the vote, the highest of any individual company. Next was Meta/Horizon Worlds and Microsoft/Minecraft (7% each), Roblox (5%), and Google and Apple (3% each), with VRChat and Nvidia also receiving some mentions.

However, developers remain wary. Nearly half (45%) of respondents noted that the metaverse concept will never deliver on its promise. This number is up from 33% in 2022, with many of the responses from this year specifically citing the unclear definition of the concept, the lack of substantial interactivity and the high cost of hardware (VR headsets in particular) as barriers towards sustainable metaverse experiences.

Hybrid work schedules are on the rise, while remote work appears here to stay

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses continue to examine how the past few years have impacted employees and their needs in the workplace. In many parts of the world, remote work is no longer considered an essential health measure, and many workplaces are shifting to a return to the office while others are still working from home.

One-fourth of game developers surveyed said they primarily work remotely with the option to go into the office, which marks a slight decrease from the 29% in 2022. Hybrid work schedules, in which workers split their time between remote and in-office, saw the biggest increase (17% this year, up from 11% in 2022).

Developers cite salary, company culture, and remote work as top factors for considering job switch

This year’s responses seem to align with the growing chatter around the “Great Resignation,” a phenomenon marked by large swaths of employees switching companies in hopes for better pay and benefits. This trend appears to bear out among the game developers surveyed, with more than half of them expressing that, over the past year, they’ve either changed the companies they work for (16%) or have thought about doing so (36%).

Among those who said they’ve changed companies or thought about it, the leading motivations include salary, company culture, ability to work on a specific project/franchise, work/life balance, and having remote work policies.

91% of respondents said that player harassment and toxicity toward devs is an issue in the industry

For years, developers have spoken at the Game Developers Conference about the cost of toxic behavior from select players, including harassment and threats. Developers appear to be taking heed of the warning signs of this negative behavior, and many studios are taking steps to address harassment.

The vast majority of respondents believe that player toxicity and harassment toward developers is a major issue. Men surveyed were less likely to say they experienced or witnessed harassment than women or non-binary people, and respondents were more likely to say they experienced or witnessed harassment if they identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

In many cases, the problem of harassment has become pervasive enough in the past year to warrant official company responses, with studios of all sizes condemning harassment against their employees by players. To dig further into this topic, the survey asked respondents who had experienced or witnessed harassment whether their companies had addressed the issue. About two-thirds (68%) said their companies have addressed the harassment they experienced or witnessed—either internally (30%), externally (4%), or both (34%). One-fifth said no, while 11% were unsure.

The full survey, which includes more insight into the game development community’s thoughts on these topics and a multitude of other facts and details, can be downloaded for free here. And don't forget to register for the upcoming free webinar on this year's State of the Game Industry from Game Developer Talks.

Sign Up For GDC 2023 Now—Prices Increase Jan. 27

GDC 2023 is taking place March 20-24, 2023 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California, and registration is now open. Head here for information on booking a hotel and other travel inquiries, and follow the #GDC23 hashtag for the latest news and updates for this year’s event.

GDC returns to San Francisco this March 20-24, 2023, and registration is now open! For more information, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC23 hashtag on social media.

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Game Developer and GDC are sibling organizations under Informa Tech.


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