The latest Unity Gaming Report for 2023 has revealed independent game developers are fostering new efficiencies in the modern era, working to streamline development processes, and release games in shorter time frames – all while working fewer hours, and avoiding crunch. According to the report, around 62% of indie studios surveyed in 2022 released a game in less than a year, with this being a common trend.
‘The days of waiting for (and working on) a game for half a decade are becoming a thing of the past for
smaller studios,’ Unity claimed. ‘62% of indies and 58% of midsize studios are now making games in less than a year, from start date to ship date.’
Tom Hegarty of Roll7 (Rollerdrome, OlliOlli World) attributed much of this success to the ease of using modern development tools. ‘Unity has helped us find the fun in gameplay and get to the point of the game more quickly. In some cases, we’ve been able to figure it out within a few days, or even a few hours,’ he said in the report.
This isn’t the only contributing factor.
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As the Unity report details, using pre-made assets has also helped developers streamline workflows, and reduce in-house resource needs. Around 62% of indie game developers reportedly used 5-14 pre-made assets in their games, as a basis to develop more complex gameplay and systems. In addition, Unity tools like Cloud Build and Version Control are being used for easier collaboration, and delivery of projects.
Focussing on one specific launch platform for a game has also become an essential tactic. According to Unity, 89.5% of independent developers focussed on a single platform for launch in 2022, as a method to focus output and strive towards a complete, polished release.
A combination of these methods and market changes have allowed developers to lightly ease off the pedal, with the Unity report revealing developers are working 1.2% fewer hours than last reported. This may be a result of a number of factors, namely: remote work flexibility, ease of newer development tools, and an overall push back against crunch and overwork. AI was also cited as a contributor, with this technology aiding some developer workflows.
In future, Unity expects to see these trends to continue, as developers discover new efficiencies within the game development process. To conclude its report, the service provider predicted economic pressures would continue to impact widespread change, with smaller studios now forced to innovate in a highly competitive, increasingly efficient industry.
The entire report is well worth a read to understand more about the current trajectory of the games industry, and how evolving technologies are boosting growth for independent developers around the world.