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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: The state of the game industry’s past, present, future

Lynn Jafarzadeh

If 2024 has taught the game industry anything, it’s that things can alway beat out your expectations. In 2023, the video game industry laid off around 10,000 workers. As of the writing of this article, 6,400 video game developers were laid off in the first two months of 2024 alone. Is this just an extreme backlash from the COVID-19 era? How can developers react to these volatile times? When will things get better? Let’s chat about it.

During COVID-19, the wider tech industry had nothing short of a boom. It was a time of unprecedented profits, massive investments and a large number of developers being hired. But as the world’s population began to crawl out of their seclusion and society began to revert to normal, the game industry was met with a problem. While the numbers still look good for the industry on the surface, there is one major factor that caught the tech industry off guard: people decided to touch grass.

Back when social interaction held the possibility of coming into contact with a frightening illness, people tended to spend a lot of time indoors. This was a good thing for the video game industry, but once the world opened up again, games lost their relatively captive audience. The average hours played per week dropped, which led to less engagement. Less engagement ment less money being spent on games, leaving the game industry bloated and revenue drying up and falling back into pre-pandemic norms. 

While investors were expecting their newfound success to drop off as society got back up and running, the numbers dropped off way more than they anticipated. With the headcount inside game studios swelling during the pandemic, the first thing studios seem to have gone for is cutting some developers loose to reduce expenses in the short term. This led to a very competitive job market, with thousands of now jobless developers vying for a number of game jobs that have not yet grown to compensate for the oversaturation of developers.

So, will things get better? Yes … eventually.

Throughout this unprecedented tidal wave of layoffs, some studios have weathered the post pandemic pop far better than others and have maintained their hiring rate, posting new jobs that are slowly drawing from the pool of laid off developers. Even if it’s only at a drop at a time, progress is being made.

Atop this, the video game industry is a cyclical entity that goes through a series of highs and lows that repeat themselves every few years. I believe it would not be controversial to suggest that we are in the midst of a low point, meaning a high point is likely a few months away. But how long is a few months? Well, after speaking to a few developers, I’ve gotten a range of suggestions, with most believing the industry will recover in the next six to 10 months.

This moment of fierce competition will greatly benefit those who weather the storm and take it as a chance to learn and grow; for those trying to break into the industry, things are going to be as rough as they could possibly be right now. What I recommend for the students and graduates like myself to do is to make the most of this time by growing your network, learning from mentors and going to game industry events to meet your fellow developers. If you’re in Austin, check out ATX Game Makers and IGDA’s Austin chapter’; they’re running some great events that have great networking and learning potential.

Tech as a whole is going through a rather harsh rough patch at the moment, but don’t let that get you down. Things will inevitably bounce back. The real question to ask is “when?”

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About the Contributors
Alec Campa
Alec Campa, Staff Writer
Alec is a senior at St. Edward’s University majoring in Video Game Development. This is his first bout as a Staff Writer and was previously an intern for Hilltop Views in the fall of 2023. When Alec’s not developing games, he enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction novels.
Lynn Jafarzadeh
Lynn Jafarzadeh, Illustrator
Lynn is a freshman and this is his first semester working as an illustrator with Hilltop Views. Alongside illustrating, Lynn also dabbles in hard news reporting and writing opinion articles about topics they are passionate about.

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