The Game Developers Conference has released their State of the Game Industry 2020: Work From Home Edition report, and there are a few key takeaways from their analysis. DGC surveyed 2,500 developers to draw some conclusions about game development during the COVID-19 pandemic. The consensus is that work from home orders have had a largely negative impact on work hours and productivity.32% of devs polled felt like their business decreased in some way since the start of the pandemic, with 8% saying it had “greatly decreased.” This probably goes hand in hand with the following statistic, as 1 in 4 devs polled say their household income has fallen due to the impact of the pandemic.
Fans can also see the effects of this on the outside with game launches being pushed back or canceled due to changes in the development process because of this. “Poor communication, isolation, and lack of access to critical tools..” are some common major work from home issues the GDC highlights in their report. 33% of devs polled say they have suffered game delays due to the impact of the pandemic.
To get a better picture of what these challenges look like, devs shared their experience shifting everything from the workplace to a digital space. One respondent said their company had moved all communication to a Discord server, and production definitely felt the impact of the change. Another anecdote talks about the difficult process of procuring voiceovers during the pandemic with actors recording themselves from home, saying, “We created remote kits of recording gear and acoustic treatment to send to actors.” A respondent even touched on the financial hardships accompanying the pandemic as well, saying “Due to funding falling through, we attempted to cut costs as much as possible by moving to different cloud service providers, cut development and try to go with bare-minimum maintenance. We furloughed all but two employees initially.” Needless to say, despite being a digital product, videogame development has seen the negative residuals of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most respondents say their company has a reopening plan in place, though some describe the information provided to them as “vague.” Others say their company is simply following the lead of their government’s reopening plan. GDC hosts devs from around the world so no two situations will be the same for every company. How things will play out when quarantine is fully lifted remains to be seen. The full report is available here.