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New GDC State of the Industry: WFH Edition survey reveals COVID-19's impact on devs

The Game Developers Conference today released the results of a special State of the Industry: Work From Home Edition Survey which highlight and reveal how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted game developers across the industry.

This special survey compiles responses from over 2,500 game makers, and the results reveal that a majority of game developers have switched to working from home in the wake of widespread quarantine measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The data also shows that nearly half of devs report longer working hours and less productivity than before the global debut of COVID-19, while a third of devs have had a game delayed due to the pandemic.

This special State of the Industry Survey is the ninth entry in our ongoing series of yearly reports, and serves as a snapshot of where the game industry is at as we prepare for the special all-digital GDC Summer event in August.  

Organized by Informa Tech, GDC Summer will take place August 4th through 6th in a new virtual format accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. Here's a brief overview of some of the findings in this survey; download the free report for full details and more insights from fellow game industry professionals!

Roughly a third of devs have seen their business decline due to the pandemic, but nearly as many saw it increase

A key concern this year was understanding how the various shelter-in-place and quarantine measures enacted around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the business of game development.

To that end we asked our survey respondents to tell us whether they felt their business had diminished, stayed the same, or grown during the pandemic; the answers we received form a striking bell curve.

The largest share, 37 percent, said they felt their business had stayed about the same so far. We saw the rest of respondents fall pretty evenly to either side of that, with 24 percent saying their business had somewhat decreased and another 24 percent saying it had somewhat increased. 7 percent said it had greatly increased, and 8 percent said their business had greatly decreased during the pandemic.

Given these results, we hypothesize that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has meaningfully affected the business of a majority of game developers, with some seeing upticks even as others suffer significant business downturns.

70 percent of game makers have had to switch to working from home

We also asked survey-takers whether they’d had to switch to a work-from-home setup due to
the pandemic. Of those who answered, 70 percent said yes; 3 percent said no, and 27 percent said they were
already working from home.

1 in 4 devs say their household income has fallen due to the pandemic

When we asked our survey-takers to tell us how their household income has changed due to the pandemic, the majority (62 percent) said it’s remained about the same so far. 18 percent said their income had decreased somewhat, and 8 percent said it had decreased greatly.

That suggests roughly a quarter of game makers have seen a drop in household income due to the pandemic, which continues to affect the world’s economies.

On the flip side, 10 percent of our respondents said their income increased somewhat, and 2 percent said it had greatly increased due to the pandemic.

“Clients aren't willing to spend money. Projects have evaporated,” one respondent explained in the (optional) write-in portion of the question. “I am now unable to afford rent and may very well have to move back home with my parents in order to survive,” wrote another. “I can't even afford groceries, but have been helped by friends just to get basic needs met.”

“No one has lost a job, I got a raise, and we're spending a lot less on restaurants,” one surveytaker wrote in. “A month before the pandemic we had released some really great mechanisms on our game which greatly boosted our revenue,” wrote another. “So everyone in the studio including us (the owners) had a salary increase.”

“We have not lost business, but have lost prospects and need business soon,” added one respondent.

Download your free copy of the State of the Industry: Work From Home Edition report here!

For more details on GDC Summer, scheduled to take place virtually August 4th through the 6th, visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.


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