Sponsored By

Most developers are sold on the idea of unionization, but many still aren't discussing it

Developers believe in the power of collective action, but how many are currently unionized?

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 24, 2024

2 Min Read
A striking worker demanding better pay for artists
Image via Patrick Perkins / Unsplash

The majority of game developers are in favor of unionization, but less than one in five have actually discussed it.

That's according to data from GDC's 2024 State of the Industry report, which also found that younger developers are far more likely to support unionization than their veteran colleagues.

Digging into the data, 57 percent of respondents answered 'yes' when asked whether workers in the game industry should unionize. 22 percent appeared more unsure and selected 'maybe,' and 12 percent responded with a hardline 'no.'

The report found that narrative designers were most likely to be in favor of unionization, while those working in business and finance were least swayed by the prospect.

Although the bulk of developers clearly feel collective organization is worth pursuing, only 18 percent of respondents said unionization was actively being discussed at their workplace. Notably, 50 percent indicated the topic had never been broached, and just 5 percent said they are currently unionized.

Segmenting the data by age group provided another fascinating tidbit, with 72 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds speaking up in favor of unionization. As the graph below shows, pro-union sentiment dropped steadily as respondents aged up, with just 25 percent of those aged 65 or older showing support.

A graph showing the percentage of developers who are pro-union segmented by age group

When asked to share their thoughts on the perceived pros and cons of unionization, those in favor claimed it could provide devs with more clout when fighting for better pay, job security, and benefits while helping them more effectively address workplace toxicity.

"One of the departments at my company unionized and they were less impacted by layoffs than other departments," said one dev.

"The U.S. work ethic is way more toxic than most Americans realize and employers will continue to take advantage of it until unions stand up and normalize a sane work-life balance," added another.

Detractors, however, believe joining a union is akin to "anti-professionalism" and could adversely impact the wider industry because it relies on "flexibility and innovation."

"As a CEO, I'm not hugely keen on it," reads one succinct response. "I don't like it. Would never join a union myself and would not want to hire anyone who is in a union," added another developer.

The data indicates those sentiments are being touted by a vocal minority, and it's clear that unionization within the industry is gathering pace. In 2023 alone, we saw unions rise at studios like CD Projekt, ZeniMax, Sega of America, Avalanche Studios, Tender Claws, and more.

For more data and opinions on topics ranging from unionization, conglomeration, game engines, and AI usage, you can download the 2024 State of the Industry report today.

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)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like