35 percent of game developers have been impacted by layoffs in the last 12 months and half are concerned more job cuts are on the way. That’s according to GDC’s newly published 2024 State of the Game Industry report, which highlights current sentiment among developers based on a snapshot of 3,000 industry professionals polled.
According to the report, while 54 percent of developers canvassed said there had been no layoffs at their company over the last year, 35 percent said either they or their colleagues had lost their jobs. Quality assurance positions are said to have been hit the hardest, with 22 percent of QA workers saying they’d been laid off compared to seven percent of all developers.
56 percent of those polled said they were concerned their company could announce more layoffs in the next 12 months, with many citing post-pandemic course correction, studio conglomeration, and economic uncertainty as possible explanations.
Away from layoffs, GDC asked developers about a wide range of other industry hot-topics, including unionisation – 57 percent were explicitly in favour compared to 12 percent that weren’t, with 18-24-year-olds most likely to support unionisation – and AI.
31 percent of industry workers said they used generative AI tools themselves when asked, with 44 percent of those being in business and finance. Community, marketing, and PR departments were the next most likely to use generative AI, followed by production and team management (33 percent), and programming and engineering (25 percent).
Developers working in narrative, visual arts, and QA were more likely to say AI would have a negative impact on the industry, and those in business, marketing, and programming tended to view the technology more positively. However, there was considerably more consensus when it came to blockchain – including cryptocurrency and NFTs – with 77 percent of surveyed developers saying they were completely uninterested in using the tech.
Elsewhere, in-game accessibility options are on the rise – this year, 48 percent of developers said they’d implemented some compared to 38 percent in 2023 – and, interestingly, in a year that saw Unity enrage developers by announcing (and then backtracking on) hugely controversial run-time install fees, 35 percent of developers said they’d either switched or considered switching game engines in the last 12 months. However, Unity use is still neck-and-neck with Unreal Engine at 33 percent, followed by propriety or in-house engines at 14 percent.
GDC’s full State of the Game Industry report, which requires registration to download, is a fascinating snapshot of current developer sentiment and trends following an extremely challenging year for the industry – one that saw over 9,500 employees lose their jobs, with layoffs still happening daily in 2024 – and it’s well worth a read.