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GDC State Of The Game Industry 2022: Devs Weigh in on NFTs, Unions, and More

This past year has seen some struggles and surprises; fostering a look into the past, present, and future of the game industry. It’s a time of growth and change—but if there’s one thing to know about game developers, it’s that they’re always up to the challenge. 

The Game Developers Conference has released the results of the 10th annual State of the Game Industry Survey, revealing trends in the industry ahead of GDC 2022, which will be held in-person and virtually at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center from March 21 to 25 and virtually March 21 to April 1.

Click here to download the 2022 GDC State of the Game Industry report.

This year, we asked over 2,700 game developers about their work, and their industry as a whole. We found developers are working to improve accessibility in gaming; they’re mixed on the viability of Steam Deck; and they have questions about bringing cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the gaming sphere. We also included a retrospective, looking back at 10 years of State of the Industry. 

Here are some highlights from the 2022 State of the Game Industry Report—for a free copy of the full report, head here.

Almost 40% of respondents said their companies have reached out in an effort to combat toxicity in the workplace following outcries at Activision Blizzard and other companies

At the time the survey was conducted, 38% of respondents said that their companies reached out to them to start a conversation about how misconduct and toxicity are handled in the industry; 62% said their companies did nothing. This shows a growing number of workplaces have taken at least some initiative to root out toxicity, while also pointing out the industry has a way to go. 

Interest in cryptocurrencies and NFTs grows, but game developers remain skeptical 

Two of the hottest, and polarizing, topics being debated in the game industry are cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). While the majority of developers said that they and their studio are not interested in cryptocurrency (72%) as a payment tool or in NFTs (70%), for such a nascent space, 27% percent of developers are at least somewhat interested in cryptocurrency at their studio and 28% are at least somewhat interested in NFTs. 

Studios stave off closures amid the pandemic

The game industry has stayed resilient despite the ongoing pandemic. Fifty percent of respondents said their company expanded their number of staff during the past year. Thirteen percent of respondents said their company contracted during the past year, compared to 33% that stayed the same. Only 2% of respondents said that their studio closed entirely. These figures are similar to the previous year, signifying that the pandemic and shift to remote work did not have a lasting impact on the workforce.

Accessibility in games is on the rise

We asked respondents whether their current games are implementing any accessibility measures for those with sensory, motor, or other impairments. There was an increase in the number of developers who said their games were adding accessibility measures (39%) and a decrease in those who weren't (36%). It's the first time more respondents say "Yes" since the question was added to the survey in 2019. 

In Epic Games v. Apple, more devs side with Epic

When asked who they felt was “in the right” in the case of Epic Games v. Apple, over one-third of respondents (34%) sided with Epic Games, making it the most-popular response—while the least popular was Apple (8%). Nearly a quarter (23%) said neither side was right, 10% said both made good points, and one-fourth (25%) said they weren’t sure.

Union hopes grow; almost one-fourth have already talked about unionizing

Fifty-five percent of respondents said that workers in the game industry should unionize, which is the highest amount yet in the 10 years of the State of the Game Industry Survey, but 18% believed that the industry will unionize. While only a minority may believe the industry will unionize, almost one-fourth of respondents (23%) said that conversations about unionizing have happened at their workplace.

The full survey, which includes more insight into the game development community’s thoughts on permanent remote work options, Steam Deck, and so much more, can be downloaded for free here.

GDC returns in-person to San Francisco, March 21-25—registration is open! For more information on GDC 2022, including our virtual options, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC22 hashtag on social media.

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