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State of Game Development Industry 2023: Job Search and Hiring Trends

Check our 80lv Research State of the Industry report part 2: an extensive examination of workplace culture, mental health, and HR trends.

Art by Joran Vergoessen

In the ever-changing world of game development, 2023 brought significant challenges. Layoffs loomed large in major gaming companies, driven by economic strains, cost-cutting measures, and shifts in the industry. These changes, influenced by shifting post-pandemic consumer behaviors, left many in the industry confused and overwhelmed. The 80 Level Research team conducted a global survey among 500+ gaming industry professionals where we focused on topics like workplace culture, hiring trends, and job search challenges.

Unsustainable Work Practices: Layoffs, Overtime, and Beyond 

Layoffs in the gaming industry have become a prominent topic of discussion lately, and it’s essential to understand the extent of this issue and its impact on individuals within the industry. According to Videogamelayoffs.com, 6261 people were affected by layoffs in 2023.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, 2023 has seen a series of layoffs in major gaming companies, including Ascendant Studios, Beamdog, Crystal Dynamics, Roblox, Blizzard, Epic Games, Team17, Naughty Dog, Twitch, and Keywords, affecting a wide range of employees. 

The layoffs have been attributed to various reasons, including economic challenges, cost-cutting measures, and the end of contracts with service firms. 

While companies may make these choices with the aim of improving future financial gains, it’s concerning to note that in 40% of cases, former employees are not offered fair parting conditions. This raises important questions about the treatment of individuals during these challenging times and the need for greater consideration of employee well-being.

Regarding various challenges faced by employees in the industry during the year, industry professionals gave the following answers: 

  • 37% experienced "quiet hiring." This refers to being assigned additional responsibilities without a corresponding salary increase or promotion. It suggests that many employees had to take on extra work without any additional compensation;
  • Another 37% of respondents reported working unpaid overtime hours; 
  • 28% experienced layoffs in their organizations. 

By understanding the primary causes of layoffs, you can devise a strategy to mitigate them, provide support to affected employees, and foster a more stable and resilient work environment. 34% of survey respondents indicated that layoffs occurred as a result of cost-cutting measures driven by financial constraints. 23% stated that it was primarily caused by company restructuring or reorganization, and pretty much the same amount of people attributed layoffs to an economic downturn or recession that impacted the overall business performance of game development companies. Only 3% of respondents mentioned that layoffs were driven by automation or technology replacing certain job roles. 

The data on severance packages shows that almost half of the respondents (42%) did not receive any severance package after being laid off. 12% of respondents received a severance package, but felt that it was not fair or sufficient. However, a quarter of the respondents (24%) received a fair severance package upon being laid off.

Decoding the Job Search

Almost half of the respondents (47%) of currently employed/unemployed specialists, freelancers, and students reported that they have been actively searching for a new job this year, but have not yet secured a new position. 34% indicated that they had not actively sought new job opportunities during the year. However, despite the challenges, 1 out of 5 respondents successfully found a new job in 2023. 

Regarding the channels that were utilized by individuals in their most recent job search, the following data was received:

  • Online job boards, such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn, emerged as the most popular choices, with the majority of respondents (86%) utilizing these platforms; 
  • Company websites and career pages followed closely behind, with almost 70% of respondents utilizing these direct channels; 
  • Additionally, 41% of job seekers leveraged social media platforms, including Facebook groups and X, formerly known as Twitter, indicating the growing influence of digital networking in the job search process;
  • Referrals from friends or family played a significant role for 1/3 of respondents (36%), demonstrating the power of personal connections;
  • Recruitment agencies and headhunters were utilized by 33% of respondents as a means of finding job opportunities, while 1 out of 5 people (20%) reported attending networking events and job fairs. 

These findings highlight the importance of online platforms and personal connections as prominent channels in the job search process within the game development industry, emphasizing the need for a diversified approach to job-seeking strategies.

According to our survey, more than 50% of game industry professionals have a negative perception of the current amount of suitable job opportunities on the market. A notable 15% of respondents indicated that the number of suitable positions for specialists of their level was close to zero, and a larger portion (40%) expressed that the number of suitable positions was limited, reflecting a moderately competitive job market. On top of that, a quarter (26%) of respondents felt that the number of options seemed average, indicating a balanced mix of available positions. However, 14% reported finding many options but receiving few offers, indicating potential challenges in securing desired positions. In contrast, 7% of respondents stated that they were fortunate enough to have multiple offers to choose from, highlighting a favorable job market for a select few. 

The main factors considered by respondents when searching for a new job reveals several key aspects that weigh heavily on their decision-making process: 

  • Job conditions, including salary and benefits, emerged as the most crucial factor, with a significant 71% of respondents prioritizing this aspect; 
  • Additionally, opportunities for remote or hybrid work were highly valued, with half of respondents — 50% seeking flexible work arrangements; 
  • The opportunity for skill development and learning ranked third, with another half of respondents — 46% — emphasizing the importance of continuous growth; 
  • Career growth and advancement opportunities followed closely behind at 41%, highlighting the desire for professional progress; 
  • The company's culture and work environment were also significant considerations for 40% of respondents, emphasizing the importance of a positive and nurturing workplace atmosphere; 
  • Being interested in the product/projects and day-to-day responsibilities held weight for 37% of individuals. 

Respondents are sure that work experience and a strong portfolio are the top factors influencing Managers’ decisions when choosing candidates, with the vast majority of answers (88%) indicating their importance. Industry knowledge and level of expertise followed closely behind, with a significant 71% highlighting them. Soft skills and alignment with company values were also recognized, although to a lesser extent, with 38% of respondents emphasizing these qualities. Demonstrated passion and enthusiasm for the role

Solving Hiring Challenges

Looking at the frequency at which companies hire new employees, from companies’ perspectives, you can see the following data:

  • An equal 17% of respondents reported that their company isn’t currently hiring, hires rarely (only when absolutely necessary), or hires occasionally (without it being a frequent occurrence); 
  • 28% reported that their company hires new employees multiple times per year, indicating a more active recruitment process; 
  • Another 17% stated that their company hires regularly throughout the year, pointing to an ongoing need for talent acquisition. 

In this research, we reveal diverse perspectives regarding hiring trends. A significant portion (35%) reported that there has been no noticeable change in the number of open positions. However, almost the same number of responses (34%) expressed that their company started to hire fewer. On the other hand, 24% reported that their company started to hire more. 

The majority of surveyed managers (93%), also revealed that their companies have not yet implemented AI in their recruitment processes and have no plans to do so. This suggests a prevailing reliance on traditional methods of candidate evaluation and selection. However, 7% of companies indicated a willingness to embrace technology for more efficient and effective hiring practices by reporting that they have already implemented AI in their recruitment processes.

Respondents warn that AI tools are a new system, so there’s a possibility that they can rule out good candidates. Specialists suggested applying AI for external users, providing them with information, and double-checking the data. 


The game development industry definitely needs improvement. More than 70% of professionals are dissatisfied with the workplace environment at their current companies. Unpaid overwork, layoffs, and the lack of managers’ support have a negative effect on employees’ mental health.

Moreover, our survey revealed that many professionals wanted to switch workplaces this year, but their job-seeking efforts were unsuccessful. The current job market possesses a lot of challenges for both employees and employers. Most of the surveyed specialists stated that the number of job opportunities on the market was very limited, while employers mentioned that they struggle to find experienced candidates with the right skill set.

We at 80 Level can understand the challenges you face, so we can’t end this report without giving you some practical tools that can help you solve these problems.

80 Level Talent is a premium job‑matching service catering to all creative industries. We offer highly effective ways to hire and be hired; 

  • As a specialist: sign up to our platform, publish your portfolio, get your works promoted on our website and social media, and browse our job openings. It’s free!
  • As a company: sign up to search our database of pre-screened, job-ready, high-quality candidates; post job openings; and promote your organization to a growing audience of video game professionals.

In this report, we tried not to just describe the current state of workplace culture in the game industry, but also to give businesses practical tips on how to improve it. We hope you found it useful. However, every company is different, and you may face some unique challenges that need to be addressed. All of us know that every strategic decision should be wise, research-based, and backed by data. 80 Level Research can help you with that. We do quantitative and qualitative research, tailored to your company’s needs, to help you get valuable market insights to drive business success.

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