Game developers say they're working longer hours due to the pandemic

GDC polled 2,500 game developers to get a sense of COVID-19’s impact.

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Visitors use virtual reality headsets during International Games Week on April 26, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. From April 24 until the end of the week, Berlin is the Mecca of computer game fans from all over the world. The festival brings together independent game developers, digital creatives and game enthusiasts. Established in 2008 as an international label in the field of independent and alternative games, playful media and games culture. The festival offers exhibitions, conferences, workshops, game showcases andgame jams. A MAZE. represents the current state of artistic and experimental game design, alternative games and interactive digital arts. (Photo by Eric Cortes/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Ahead of the all-digital “GDC Summer,” the Game Developers Conference polled nearly 2,500 game developers to get a sense of COVID-19’s impact on the industry. In a report published today, GDC shared its findings. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, less than 10 percent of developers polled said they were laid off or furloughed. While one-third saw business decline, another third saw business increase.

About one-third of the developers polled say their games have been delayed. That’s not entirely surprising. We’ve already learned that Mafia: Definitive Edition and Cyberpunk 2077 have been pushed back, and Sony put The Last Of Us Part II and Iron Man VR on hold.

The industry may be buffered a bit due to the fact that nearly one-third of respondents were already working from home pre-pandemic. Most of the rest (about 70 percent) quickly transitioned to remote work. Though, working from home, especially during a global pandemic, does present some unique challenges. Nearly half of respondents said their productivity dropped. Nearly one-third said their creativity decreased, and 41 percent said they’re working longer hours.

“The biggest overall team challenge has been managing ambient stress. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way, even if not directly, and the general atmosphere of anxiety is impossible to ignore completely,” one developer wrote.

Despite the challenges posed by isolation, lack of communication, deteriorating work-life balance and childcare, only one in 10 developers said they feel safe returning to the office. It’s hard to say if or when developers will return to traditional offices, or when conferences, like GDC, will happen in person again.

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