IGDA reveals 10,500 game developers lost jobs due to layoffs in 2023

Layoffs have impacted a significant number of game developers over the last year.
igda report dss developer layoffs

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has released the results of its latest Developer Satisfaction Survey, revealing a range of overarching trends and ongoing concerns within the global games industry. Each year, the survey aims to canvas individual developer opinions for a better, more personal picture of conditions.

The 2023 survey was collated with data provided by 777 respondents between May and October 2023, with respondents providing thoughts, feelings, and commentary on a range of topics. Employment conditions were raised in the survey, as was crunch, and proper crediting at studios.

Layoffs were also a major concern, with 10,500 game makers reporting job losses in 2023, due to mass layoffs at studios around the world. Per IGDA, 4.8% of respondents to its survey were unemployed at the time of response. That’s a significant number of jobs entirely wiped out, and speaks to the current rockiness of game development opportunities.

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After a significant pandemic-era peak, it appears we’re entering a trough. Some companies are making cuts for necessity, to deal with rising costs and organisational challenges. Others are seeking ever-growing profit, where opportunities are shrinking. In either fashion, the job losses are staggering – and it’s likely the next Developer Satisfaction Survey will reveal even further losses, as 2024 kicked off with waves of mass layoffs.

Despite these moves, it does appear developers are overall satisfied in the workplace, with 67% of respondents agreeing that relations between employees and management in their home studios are good or excellent. Just 23% of respondents described this relationship as fair, and only 10% as poor.

What is more concerning is that 28% of survey respondents indicated their job involved crunch time, as opposed to simple long or extended hours (25%). While this is down on past years, it appears there’s still a significant number of developers exposed to crunch conditions – in employed, freelancer, and self-employed capacities. Many respondents also noted feeling like crunch was just part of their job, and was expected.

Elsewhere in the survey, developers raised other concerns, including that 48% of studios and companies seemingly don’t have a game credits policy. Just 41% of respondents believed they would be credited on a project they worked on, if they were to leave or have their contract ended before the game shipped. This issue has cropped up frequently, with Keywords and Ubisoft recently being flagged as omitting translators from the credits of Skull and Bones (this was later amended).

Based on the IGDA survey, it appears there’s much work to be done around securing stability in the global games industry, and ensuring that work is both properly credited, and performed under fair circumstances. The concerns raised in this latest Developer Satisfaction Survey aren’t particularly new, but there’s hope that bringing attention to them will inspire more thought about next steps, and how a better, stronger games industry can emerge.

You can read the full results of the IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey on the IGDA website.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.