GDC's 2020 State of the Game Industry Survey: Interest Uptick in Next-Gen Consoles, VR, Unionization

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GDC's 2020 State of the Game Industry Survey: Interest Uptick in Next-Gen Consoles, VR, Unionization

The Games Developer Conference has released the results of the eighth annual State of the Game Industry survey, which polls over 4,000 industry professionals on their opinions and sentiments of the gaming climate’s current state.

Notably, more than 10% of respondents are in the process of developing games for next-gen consoles. This means about 400 industry professionals are currently working on titles for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, both of which are slated for a fourth quarter 2020 release. A measly 6% mentioned working on games for Google Stadia, which has received pretty negative press and poor sales since its launch last November. The PC remains the industry’s Old Faithful—56% of respondents noted they were currently in the process of developing titles available on home computers. The interest in next-gen consoles is there, though. 38% of respondents noted they were interested in releasing their next title on PlayStation 5, just a point above the interest in the Nintendo Switch at 37%.

For the past five years of polling, augmented reality seems like the favorite choice in terms of “immersive reality” technology for the industry. This year marked a change in that respect: 25% of respondents thought VR would dominate over AR, with 19% speculating the two would receive equal reception. This is a 6% rise from 2018’s survey. GDC points to the Oculus Quest as the possible cause for this renewed VR interest. The VR headset was released last year in May, with critics noting its “revolutionary” potential despite its hefty price tag.

Perhaps most interestingly is how respondents polled on issues of unionization. A whopping 54% of respondents thought game industry workers should unionize. That’s over half! Despite the overwhelming response to unionization’s necessity, only 23% thought it was a feasible possibility, with 43% speculating “maybe.”

Back in 2016, the SAG-AFTRA went on strike against 11 videogame developers and publishers, including Activision, EA, and Insomniac. The strike largely concerned contract issues industry videogame voice actors were facing, seeking better compensation for voice acting talent as well as motion capture artists. A deal was reached in September 2017, making the strike the longest in the guild’s history.

The strike points to a universal unrest among workers currently navigating the gaming industry, and it still continues to this day. Just recently, CD Projekt Red delayed their flagship title Cyberpunk 2077, which according to employees, means crunch time and further overwork. CD Projekt Red’s CEO Adam Kicinski referred to the upcoming crunch as “more humane” than their previous crunch for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which seems like a bit of an oxymoron. Back in December 2017, 43 CD Projekt Red employees spoke out against the company, citing inclement work conditions. Their Glassdoor page has workers citing “chaos” as a recurring con. It isn’t just CD Projekt Red, either—Rockstar received a lot of flak for their treatment of workers during Red Dead Redemption 2’s crunch time.

So it seems like this year in gaming will be marked by burgeoning solutions to workers’ complaints, further advancements in the field of virtual reality, and lots of development for the PS5 and Xbox Series X.