A new Game Developers Conference study has been released, and it shines a light on the impact of COVID-19 on the gaming industry. For the study, GDC surveyed almost 2,500 developers, and there are a series of notable takeaways to learn from the report.
First, nearly half of those who responded to the survey said they are working longer hours and are less productive than before the pandemic when they might have been working in an office.
“Poor communication, isolation, and lack of access to critical tools are some of the common challenges devs are dealing with right now,” GDC said. “Nearly half of game makers feel working from home has lowered their productivity and 1/3 of developers said they’ve experienced a decrease in creativity while working from home. While productivity and creativity may have decreased for many developers, the amount of hours worked has increased for nearly half of all the developer respondents.”
On the other side, 19 percent of respondents said they saw an increase in their creativity in their new work-from-home environment. “Fewer distractions means more space to think and act on ideas,” one person said.
One surveyed developer said, “The most difficult part is problem-solving. Not everyone can sit on Zoom all day. We typically would have brainstorming sessions in the office together that would help when we were stuck on an issue.”
Overall, 32 percent of respondents said their productivity “somewhat decreased” due to working from home, while 9 percent said their productivity “greatly decreased.” 24 percent said their productivity somewhat increased, while 8 percent said their productivity greatly increased.
In terms of the number of hours worked, 41 percent of surveyed developers said they were working about the same number of hours as before. About the same percentage said they are working longer hours from home. Of those, 28 percent said they were working “somewhat more” hours, while 11 percent said they were spending “much more” time working than before.
14 percent said they were working less, and 6 percent said they were working much less than before.
The pandemic has also had an impact on business results. 34 percent of respondents saying they saw their business decline, 37 percent said it stayed about the same, and 31 percent said their businesses experienced growth due to the increased time spent playing games.
Less than 10 percent of surveyed developers said they were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, while 26 percent said their household income dropped due to the crisis.
70 percent of respondents said they moved to a work-from-home environment, while 27 percent said they were already working from home before the pandemic struck.
As would be expected, a number of game projects have also been delayed due to COVID-19. 33 percent of respondents to the survey said their games were delayed for reasons related to the virus. Another expected result is that mental and emotional health of developers has been impacted.
“My whole family is living with me and sometimes it’s hard to focus on my tasks,” one respondent said.
“Aside from the pressures of home life, not seeing people that work on the game in person has been tough,” another explained. “The lack of a human connection and a physical tangible place to call work just makes you feel like an outsider.”
About 10 percent of surveyed developers said they felt safe about returning to work. “There has been talk of reopening the office for some individuals, with extra cleanliness required,” one respondent said. “I want no part in it.”
You can read the full GDC report here.
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