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Gaming: Navigating 2023/24 on Expert Difficulty.

Category Article
Date 15 Jan 2024
Author Eleven Eleven

Photo by Lorenzo Herrera on Unsplash

It’s no secret that 2023 was a turbulent year for those working in the gaming and tech industries. A year that should have been celebrated, particularly with highly anticipated projects such as Baldur's Gate 3, Cocoon, Alan Wake, and Tears of the Kingdom, leading to projected, record-breaking, profits of upwards of $160 billion.

However, with unprecedented levels of layoffs and widespread redundancies, being part of the workforce in these industries has never been less certain. This is especially true considering that many of the team members who were working on these wildly successful titles now find themselves without employment. Such conflicting outcomes leave many feeling lost and confused.

Such conflicting outcomes leave many feeling lost and confused. At Eleven Eleven, we've taken a look at some of the questions we've had about the events in gaming and tech for 2023, and hope that this article may provide you with some answers, clarity, and hope.

The first question is: why have so many layoffs happened?

There are a few schools of thought as to the reason for the seismic changes sweeping the industry. Depending on who you talk to, you will encounter different answers. Among executives, the primary reason appears to be the need to cut costs. The gaming and tech boom caused by the unmatched number of people spending more time at home during the pandemic led to a huge hiring boom as companies leapt to take advantage of the increased demand for at-home entertainment. Coming out of the pandemic, that demand naturally decreased, meaning that companies had to be more choosy about which projects received funding.

A second financial factor to consider is the impact of rising inflation. As loan repayments increase, companies find themselves needing to cut wage budgets in order to keep up with those repayments. The unfortunate case being that, in so many of these companies, reduced wage budgets mean job losses.

Linked to the pandemic boom for the industry, is the saturation of choice for digital entertainment. When the entire world had more time to consume entertainment, production could be more varied and there was room to take risks on more niche projects.

However, even though demand has now dipped post-pandemic, the competition for audience attention is just as fierce, meaning that more risk-averse choices are being made, resulting in resources being funnelled into fewer projects. And when projects get dropped, that often means the teams of people working on those projects get let go as well.

All of the above leads to decisions about cutting back, resource reallocation, and strategy refinement. This is all well and good at a conceptual level, but at a granular level, it affects real people like you and me.

What does it mean for the future of games and tech?

Short answer? No big change. Gaming and tech are big industries and they're going nowhere fast. Thanks to the insatiable demand for new content and growth, there will always be roles available. Companies are still likely to hire in answer to industry booms and cut costs in times of hardship.

The long answer is more complicated. With over 10,000 people affected by the layoffs, the market is flooded with highly talented people, all competing for jobs simultaneously. The immediate aftermath of 2023 has been messy as those people filter their way back into the industry.

Hopefully, companies can learn from this year and put contingency plans into place to prevent upheaval at this scale happening again in the future. One way to help encourage positive and proactive action is to celebrate it where you see it, publicly and repeatedly.

That's why it's important to look back on the reaction of Nintendo's executives following the release of the Wii U in 2013 and the 3DS in 2011. In both situations, with poor sales figures, then president, Satoru Iwata, and the board took pay cuts in order to avoid layoffs. About the pay cuts, Iwata said "If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results, employee morale will decrease. I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.”

If only more executives took on that mindset and approach. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that we are unlikely to see widespread change.

What is the industry currently doing about it?

If you paid any attention to the 2023 Game Awards, you would have been hard-pressed to hear anything about layoffs. In fact, you would have even been hard-pressed to hear much from any of the award winners! There seems to be an unspoken agreement among executives, with a few exceptions, to pretend it never happened and quickly move on. By referring to percentages and not focusing on the number of people affected, there is serious dehumanisation and a reluctance to engage with the human cost that these layoffs have caused.

Workers from across the industry picketed outside of the venue for the Game Awards to protest the layoffs and draw further those in attendance took to social media to protest other injustices experienced during the ceremony itself. Including winners being limited to 30-second acceptance speeches, and being pushed to wrap up their speeches before being encouraged off stage.

While the organisational response has generally been less than encouraging, the community response has been a beacon of positivity. One only needs to glance at LinkedIn to see responses to calls for help in various ways. Some have taken it upon themselves to create databases of available openings.

Others are leveraging connections and contacts to help those who are brave enough to be vulnerable in their search for help. Others still can be found highlighting former colleagues and promoting them in order to increase exposure. All of these actions offer hope in an otherwise traumatic experience.

Are there still jobs out there?

As this article has already said, yes, there are still jobs available. The difficulty comes in identifying them and then presenting oneself as the ideal candidate over all others.

The aforementioned databases and platforms are indispensable tools in helping to search for new roles and put yourself out there. Another method is to work with a recruitment agency, leveraging their expertise and network, to increase chances of finding the right opportunity.

The likelihood is that gaming and tech will see another cycle of boom-and-bust; the question is when? And how can you then take advantage of that when it happens?

How can Eleven Eleven help?

At Eleven Eleven, we partner with you to create direction and confidence in your career. We can identify premium opportunities that fit your skillset, values, and ethos by getting to know you and your unique skills and characteristics. More than just finding an opening that you can fill, we work to find you the perfect fit.

Where we differ from other agencies is that we take a holistic approach and look to work alongside you for the long term. We understand that each career move is a significant life decision.

Our team is devoted to being more than just consultants, we are your partners in this journey, deeply invested in every step of your professional and personal development.

Get in touch HERE to see how we can help you find a place where you belong.