GDC has released reports for the state of the game industry 2021. There’s a collection of statistics from various categories resulting from over 3,000 game developers representing the current industry. The report has touched on the productivity effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, hardware preferences, and many more. Here’s a breakdown of the piece with the most exciting topics
As many as 3,000 game industry professionals were asked about what has been a turbulent year for developers as they had to adapt to remote work, dealt with pandemic stress, and became extremely isolated for socialization. All while needing to create entertainment known for helping people cope with loneliness, anxiety, and isolation.
The survey revealed some intriguing developments in broader industry trends, such as a growing dissatisfaction of the 30% revenue share digital storefronts employ, supporting the introduction of newer, more developer-friendly revenue share models by Google, Apple, and Epic. Furthermore, there’s also a rising interest in developing PlayStation 5 (PS5) games, but PC remains on the throne as the preferred platform.
According to game makers, small investments were primarily made through online forums and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. It is the most hyped platform for small investments with a total of 25% investments respectively. Real-time communications like Discord and Slack outreach to conventional press and bloggers, followed by email marketing and word of mouth, with 24% of respondents, respectively, said they made “small investments” from these channels. Paid advertising, live events, and marketing on a digital shop were the least popular.
Customers have come to anticipate a never-ending collection of games from platforms like Xbox game Pass, EA Play, and PlayStation Plus. This allows game developers to rely on ongoing revenue rather than relying on less predictable hit cycles. However, the concern grows as this pursues; 21% of the respondents indicated they were concerned about subscription services devaluing the individual price of the game, while 30% said they were not.
Remote work complications have led to game delays to a greater extent than respondents anticipated. When asked if there was a delay in their game due to pandemic, 44% of the respondents answered “Yes” (while it was 33% last year); 45% said “No,” and the remaining stated they were not in the works of creating a game. Meanwhile, studios have continued to expand in the previous year, with 47% stated that their staff count has grown. Responses to questions on productivity and creativity have also changed. In contrast, 41% of respondents said that remote work had affected their productivity.
When it comes to chances to change the gaming industry, work-life balance remains a source of concern. Excessive working hours cause stress and burnout, which drives talent out of the industry or out of the development of the game entirely. On average, 56% of respondents indicated they worked 40 hours or less per week. That matches the results from the previous year, which stated that 55% of game industry respondents worked 40 hours or less per week, which appears to be excellent news in terms of work-life balance, especially given that working from home dominated in the prior year. In the gaming industry, work-life balance and the subject of unionization seem to go hand-in-hand. As labor concerns grow in public, game creators realize the need for organizations to achieve fair compensation and decent working conditions.
In recent years, the subject of accessibility in games has gained popularity, and we’re witnessing a growing push to build games that are accessible to everybody. This ranges from spoken text, larger fonts, colorblind options to controller configuration customization.
Game developers are settling into programming for next-generation systems, with Sony’s PlayStation 5 leading the way in developer interest. PS5 is the platform that people are most interested in right now, according to 44% of the respondents, followed by Nintendo Switch at 38%, followed by Xbox Series X/S at 30%. But, among all platforms, PC has been the most popular platform among developers at 58%.