A new report by video games news outlet Game Developer and the Game Developer Conference (GDC) highlighted the difficult year the video game industry faced in 2023, including studio closures, layoffs, and the impact of generative AI.
“To say it’s been a tough year for game developers would be an understatement,” Game Developer publisher Alissa McAloon said in the report. “Developers have faced adversity and uncertainty at every turn, as technology shakeups and workplace instability continue to shift the wider industry landscape.”
The 2024 State of the Game Industry report conducted by research firm Omdia surveyed 3,000 game developers and included questions about their work and the video game industry in general.
While the report highlighted a growth in accessibility options in games, it also noted an increased frustration with Twitter, a divided opinion on returning to the office, and 56% of respondents worried about future layoffs.
In the report, 34% of respondents described their roles as game design, and 32% said they worked for independent studios—compared to 18% at AAA studios. The majority, over 60%, reported working on games for PC compared to 35% for PlayStation 5 and 34% for Xbox Series X/S.
The survey found that most developers are more interested in creating games for PC, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch successor platforms than any others at 62%, 41%, and 32%, respectively.
Unity and Unreal Engine tied for the top game engines used by developers in the survey at 33%, with 14% responding that they used a proprietary game engine.
While Web3 games continue to be developed, interest in the broader gaming industry has waned, with over 77% of game developers saying they are not interested in blockchain technology.
The surge in interest in artificial intelligence in 2023 after the launch of OpenAI’s GPT-4 led to several game studios leveraging the technology, including Blizzard Entertainment, Square Enix, and UbiSoft. According to Game Developer’s report, 4 out of 5 developers have ethical concerns about the use of AI.
Despite pushback from gamers, 31% of developers surveyed said they use generative AI personally, and 49% said the technology is used by their companies, with the majority of that use being in “Business and Finance” at 44% and “Community Marketing and PR at 41%.”
According to the report, indie studios were more likely to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney than AAA studios, with the majority saying they use AI for coding assistance.
“Code development is one of the best places this will be helpful. Across engineering and content, developers will find ways to optimize their processes using AI,” a respondent told Game Developer. “The best in the industry will do so to enhance their processes—not to fully replace anything.”
The report noted that 32% of video game companies do not have an official policy regarding the use of AI, with AAA studios more likely to have a policy in place. While some respondents saw artificial intelligence as a benefit to their workflow, others said there was no place for AI in the industry, with 18% saying AI would harm the industry.
“None. AI exploits the work of others without credit or payment and is a net loss to true Creativity,” another respondent said.
Game Developer found that 84% of developers were concerned about the ethics of using Generative AI.
“As an industry, we do a lousy job of crediting and acknowledging actual human creators for their work and contributions to projects. This won’t help,” another said.
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.