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HomeNewsOne graphic depicting the effects of 16,000 layoffs in the gaming sector

One graphic depicting the effects of 16,000 layoffs in the gaming sector

Game developers discuss their personal experiences with the 2023-2024 layoffs.

The extent of layoffs in the videogame industry over the last year is difficult to comprehend. Almost every week, we are confronted with new large numbers: the latest “regrettable” layoffs made by this or that gaming corporation in order to remain “agile and competitive.” The announcements blend together and the figures become talking points, yet each statistic contains scores of intimate tiny apocalypses: someone’s livelihood, perhaps their dream job or first break in this tough field, crushed against the wall.

The grounds of this current business collapse include studio consolidation, decreased margins following an early Covid-era boom, and plain old corporate greed. Today, we’re just focused on the personal impact: a picture of the industry crisis from January 2023 to January 24th, with testimonies from some of those who lost their employment.

(Image credit: Future)

Our personal estimate for 2023 layoffs was 11,250 individuals (the Obsidian tracker puts it at 10,500), but by the end of January 2024, we had already hit roughly 6,000 layoffs (5,900 on the public list). More layoffs were rumored in the first days of February, including an unknown number at Visual Concepts Austin, which Take-Two acquired in 2021.

As several analysts have noted, the industry is nearly halfway through 2023’s total layoffs just one month into 2024. The total number of layoffs in 2023 exceeded the predicted 8,500 in 2022, and the broader tech slowdown that these gaming layoffs triggered was already beginning by the end of the year.

One question we keep asking at PCG is how out of the ordinary these layoffs are in gaming history, with the potential that a combination of social media attention and increasing scrutiny of industry labor practices has brought an issue that has always been this severe to the fore. While we don’t have a statistical answer, I was struck by former HakJak sound designer and industry veteran Michelle Hebert’s testimony on the subject. Despite the fact that this is her fourth layoff in 15 years, Hebert believes the current situation is significantly worse than previous ones.

“Before there were plenty of places to land and studios would respond to swoop up talent,” she went on to say. “This time, they’re not there because everyone is drowning it feels.”

On the other end of the scale, former Blizzard senior environment artist Molly Warner has been laid off for the first time in her 10-year career, but she understandably argues that “one is enough.”

With thousands of developers looking for work, new opportunities are hard to come by. However, there are resources available to help game developers find new jobs. On LinkedIn, Amir Satvat organizes volunteer mentorship and CV reviews, as well as regularly updating lists of laid-off developers and job openings. Cristina Amaya manages a Slack server for job-seeking developers. You can also join a Slack community for the UK gaming industry.


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