Around a third of developers say they were impacted by layoffs at their workplace over a 12-month period.
The latest GDC State of the Game Industry survey asked more than 3000 developers across indie and AAA studios a number of questions about their work, including how game industry layoffs impacted them or their company in the previous 12 months (from October 2022 to October 2023).
Of the responses given, 35% said they were impacted by layoffs during this period – 7% were personally laid off, a further 17% said colleagues in their department were laid off, and 11% said other teams or departments had layoffs.
According to the survey, QA developers appeared to have been more likely to be laid off – of all the QA workers who responded to the survey, 22% of them said they were personally laid off in the previous 12 months.
The survey also asked respondents how concerned they were about layoffs over the next 12 months (from October 2023 to October 2024). 56% said they were to at least some extent (14% “very concerned”, 16% “somewhat concerned”, 26% “slightly concerned”).
Some also gave anonymous feedback, giving their thoughts on the rise of layoffs across the games industry.
“Studios grew too quickly during the pandemic and people are spending less money on games during a cost of living crisis,” one respondent said. “The bubble is sadly bursting. I hope it creates new start-ups that revolutionise how we develop games and sets a precedent for larger studios to follow by.”
Another added: “The layoffs are concerning because they don’t seem to be following the ‘typical’ cyclical trend of layoffs after a project ships. Not that that was great either, but it’s hard to predict these days where and when layoffs might happen.”
Job losses across the games industry were widespread in 2023, and don’t appear to be slowing this year.
Companies impacted by layoffs last year include Media Molecule, Codemasters, Xbox Game Studios, Epic Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, CD Projekt, Unity, Ubisoft, Riot Games, Blizzard, BioWare, Striking Distance, Team17, Frontier Developments, Telltale Games, Digital Extremes, Amazon and Digital Bros.
A number of layoffs have also been rolling out across the subsidiaries of Swedish holding company Embracer Group, which is in the process of implementing a restructuring programme which started in June 2023 and has involved the closure of studios, layoffs and the cancellation of some projects.
During its second financial quarter ending in September 2023, the company made more than 900 layoffs, with cuts impacting such studios as Crystal Dynamics, Beamdog, Zen Studios and Fishlabs. It was later confirmed that it had also closed Timesplitters studio Free Radical Design.
Last month Embracer also made layoffs at New World Interactive, 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks, and earlier this week it was revealed that “a sizable portion” of Gearbox support studio Lost Boys Interactive was also laid off.