35% of devs affected by layoffs last year, says GDC survey

35% of devs affected by layoffs last year, says GDC survey

7% of respondents had been laid off, while 17% saw colleagues let go, and another 11% reported layoffs elsewhere in their companies

Game Developers Conference organizer Informa released its annual State of the Games Industry survey today, giving a window into developer experiences and attitudes on a variety of subjects, including layoffs, generative AI, unionization, and on which engines and platforms they’re making games.

Informa’s press outlet Game Developer worked with its market intelligence firm Omdia to survey more than 3,000 game makers last October, and found that the parade of headlines about layoffs in the industry had been reflected in developers’ personal experiences.

35% of respondents said that they had been impacted by layoffs in the past year, whether that was in the form of being laid off themselves (7%), seeing their colleagues laid off (17%), or having layoffs hit other teams and departments within their company (11%).

As for who bore the brunt of the cuts, QA teams were disproportionately affected, with 22% of QA developers surveyed having been laid off in the past year.

22% of QA developers surveyed having been laid off in the past year

On the other end of the spectrum, just 2% of business and financial professionals surveyed said they had been laid off in the preceding year.

There was also some pessimism about the trend of layoffs keeping up, as 56% were at least slightly concerned that their company would have layoffs in the coming year.

The survey also tackled other workplace issues like crunch and unionization.

There was a slight increase in the percentage of people working an average of 40 hours a week or less, going from 62% in last year’s survey to 64% this year.

Meanwhile, support for unionization grew from 53% in last year’s survey to 57% this year, while opposition to them dropped slightly from 13% to 12%. On top of that, 5% of respondents said they were actually in a union.

Support for unions seemed tied to age, with 72% of respondents aged 18-24 being in favor of unionization and that number shrinking with every age group until hitting a low of 25% for those 65 or older.

The survey also polled developers on the trend of generative AI, finding that 49% of developers already report that they or their colleagues use tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, GitHub Copilot, and Adobe Generative Fill in their jobs, with another 15% saying they are interested in trying them.

As for those who reported using them personally, 44% of those with business and finance jobs used generative AI tools in their work, as did 41% of community, marketing, and PR people.

Support for unionization grew from 53% in last year’s survey to 57% this year

The roles least likely to use generative AI in their work were QA (6%), narrative/writing (13%), and audio (14%).

As for ethical concerns about the use of generative AI in gaming, 42% of respondents were very concerned, another 42% were somewhat concerned, and 12% were not at all concerned.

The last questions we’ll highlight from the survey cover game engines, which were a hot topic when the survey was conducted in October as Unity had just unveiled its controversial Runtime Fee policy the month before.

As for who was using what, Unity and Unreal each saw 33% of developers on their tools, while 14% were using in-house engines and another 3% were on the open-source Godot.

The survey also asked about switching engines, and discovered that 7% of developers had switched in the past year, with another 28% having considered switching.

“When asked to explain their reasons for possibly switching game engines, many developers cited Unity’s policies as their main motivator,” the survey said. “According to an analysis of open responses conducted by our partners at Omdia, 51% said they were interested in switching specifically to Godot, either from Unity or Unreal Engine.”

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