59 percent of devs say industry in ‘bad’ straits, blame investors and mismanagement

Over 600 game developers were surveyed by the Game Developer Collective in May 2024, and 59 percent of them collectively minced no words: the industry is is in a bad spot.

Those surveyed were asked about present market conditions for the industry overall. 38 percent and 21 percent were respectively at “bad” and “very bad,” while 26 percent stayed neutral and 13 percent found it “good.”

“Market conditions” in this instance refers to the industry’s “unusually difficult commercial environment,” such as its swaths of layoffs and closures, and the “financial difficulties” at studios that precede these events.

When asked, 49 percent think conditions are likely to stay the same over the next six months. 19 percent believe things will get worse, while 25 percent are more optimistic that conditions will only improve from here.

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When it came to determining the root cause of these difficulties, 61 percent of developers (of those who picked “bad/very bad” conditions) pointed a finger at “unreasonable investor expectations.” In second place at 58 percent was mismanagement.

Both have been previously cited as causes for closures and layoffs over the past two years. Some studios have been vague about the catalyst for their woes, while others were more direct, typically from those who’d already left some time ago.

Other factors listed were rising development costs (41 percent), competition from games (22 percent) and other media (10 percent), high marketing costs (21 percent), and lack of innovation (13 percent) and consumer demand (2 percent).

Developers of all stripes are feeling the financial strain

Low expectations from developers are further reinforced by what appear to be missed sales targets across the industry.

48 percent of full-time employees fell below projections, and 40 percent feel they’re just at the breakeven point. Only 13 percent have exceeded their targets.

33 percent of full-timers expect to miss projections before the quarter ends on June 30, while 43 percent feel they’ll ultimately even out.

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Further insight on the Game Developer Collective’s findings for May 2024 can be seen here, which also includes freelancers hoping to jump to full-time, purchasing decisions for new developer tools, and more.

The Game Developer Collective is a unique panel of over 600 fully verified game developers, created in collaboration by Omdia, Game Developer, and GDC.


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