GameBaba Universe

The popular opinion is that the current wave of layoffs in the video game industry will lead to an explosion of Indie games. In other words, spectators anticipate that some of the professionals laid off from their roles in prominent video game companies will carve a solo path rather than try to get a new role in another company.

Will Video Game Industry Layoffs Lead To An Explosion Of Indie Games? 5 Reasons It May Not

“All those that have been laid off in the video game industry with 3-9 month severance come together to make an indie game with pay covered by the companies that laid them off,” suggested Justin Smith, a marketing executive. “This could be worked on a rolling basis as layoffs continue and everyone that works on the game gets a cut of the royalties when it goes live.”

This opinion has been gaining popularity on social media. The call grows ever stronger with every layoff news—and there is always a new one every week. Workers in the video game industry have taken heavy blows month after month since the beginning of this year.

ALSO READHideo Kojima Will Not Retire, Partners With A24 For Death Stranding Live-Action Movie

Around 10,000 people have been laid off in the video game industry this year. Unity, ByteDance, Embracer Group, Epic, and Amazon have recorded the highest number of layoffs. Embracer has been called out several times for studio closures. Volition Games, Campfire Cabal, and Free Radical Designs are all Embracer-owned studios that have been shuttered.

Job satisfaction and security have dropped to an all-time low in the video game industry. While laid-off employees have the option of pursuing indie development, it’s important to mention that only a handful of people who left big companies to start indie development have ever been successful.

A name that comes to mind in this regard is Hideo Kojima. Besides the slim success figures, there are genuine reasons why the current wave of layoffs in the video game industry will likely not lead to an indie game boom.

Why the video game industry may not experience an indie game boom

Will Video Game Industry Layoffs Lead To An Explosion Of Indie Games? 5 Reasons It May Not

Several video game industry professionals have weighed in on the possibility of the wave of layoffs leading to a boom in the industry. Some have even suggested it to those impacted by the layoffs. However, the most interesting narrative I have seen was from Alexander Martin, the founder and CCO at Hazokampos Production.

ALSO READ7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

Martin highlighted 5 reasons why the massive layoffs in the video game industry will not lead to an indie game boom. Below are 5 reasons Martins identified as the obstacles that will prevent laid-off employees in the video game industry from turning to indie game development.

#1. Most developers don’t know how to build businesses

Being an employee is different from being a business owner. Both require different thought patterns to be a success and—most employees in the video game industry just want a job. Finding a job is hard and so is making indie games. Combining the two is almost impossible.

“Time spent on an indie is time not spent on job hunting,” Martin said. “Time in which someone else is getting the job you didn’t apply for. The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to get hired.”

ALSO READWhy Is My Gaming Laptop So Slow? 5 Ways To Fix It!

Considering the fact that it is relatively easier to get a job than to build a business, most laid-off workers will spend more time job hunting than trying to build a business. They are also pressured to get a job as soon as possible because interview invites usually drop significantly the longer you stay unemployed.

#2. Most developers have dependents

It takes time for any business to become profitable, a time that developers who were laid off may not have if they have families that depend on them. Also, the moment you start building a business, you lose unemployment benefits which may cause a severe financial strain on the family.

#3. Hiring managers are not particularly fans of indie developers

According to Martin, hiring managers are always looking for reasons to turn down potential candidates. I imagine they will pick the flimsiest reasons to turn down candidates if the number of applicants is high—with the wave of layoffs in the video game industry, I expect that number to be really high now. One quality a hiring manager usually scrutinizes is the last project that you worked on.

“Working with anything other than an AAA studio can be seen as career suicide for those trying to get another AAA job,” Martin explained.

#4. Building video games is a risky business

Will Video Game Industry Layoffs Lead To An Explosion Of Indie Games? 5 Reasons It May Not

When it comes to video games, there is no guarantee of success because a studio has no control over how the public would receive their game. This year alone, we have seen games made by great minds like Immortals of Aveum and Forspoken perform commercially below expectations. This is the risk that many developers are not willing to take with their savings or severance package.

ALSO READBest Video Game Art Books Of 2024

“Creating an AAA game takes years, not months, not to mention money for marketing, publishing, etc. money which has to come from somewhere,” Martin explained. “Building an indie game is a vastly different experience from working in an established AAA studio. The hyper-specialized environment of AAA development does not prepare people for the scrappy, wear-all-the-hats mentality needed in indie work”.

#5. Indie is all about passion

When it comes to indie development, it is all about passion. Indie game development is a scrappy field where the developers bootstrap their way to the finish line. Sadly, there is no guarantee of success, even after you have put in all the hard work.

“As Mr. Grinberg commented, indies are built on passion and scraps,” Martin wrote. “They are built with no promise of return. Most die in obscurity.”

While it is easy to suggest that all laid-off employees from the video game industry should pool resources and start indie development, it is also important to remember that not all laid-off employees in the video game industry get juicy severance packages. Some don’t get it at all.

While this is not intended to discourage anyone from carving a path as an indie developer, it should be an eye-opener for those who want to follow that path to make sure they are making the right decision.

Anthony Emecheta

Anthony Emecheta has over a decade experience as a freelance writer. Gaming has always been a childhood hobby and he is excited to be collaborating with a gaming company as a content creator. It is like having all the things he loves in one place.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder