GDC survey reports that 54% of developers think game workers should unionise

(Image credit: Official GDC Flickr)

With game development crunch now being heavily criticised and several developers coming under fire for their labour practises, the topic of unions has been coming up more and more. The results of GDC's 2020 State of the Game Industry Survey indicates that there's rising support for it, too, with 54 percent of the nearly 4,000 respondents saying they believe that the game industry workers should unionise. 

30 percent of developers said they were uncertain, while 16 percent said they were against it. GDC only started asking the question last year, when 47 percent indicated their support for it. Unfortunately, few are confident it will actually happen. Only 23 percent said they thought people would unionise, with 22 percent believing it wouldn't. Most respondents just didn't know. 

While crunch and other subjects are being discussed more openly and an increasing number of developers are advertising themselves as crunch-free, the issue continues to be prevalent. Cyberpunk 2077 developers will be required to crunch, while Doom Eternal developers were "crunching pretty hard" throughout 2019. It's still treated as par for the course. 

The survey also found that almost half of game developers work more than 40 hours a week. 20 percent of respondents said they worked 41-45 hour weeks and 12 percent said 46-50. More developers said the worked over 60 hours a week than 56-60, at 4 percent, while the same number also claimed that they worked 86-90 hours in a single week. 

Elsewhere in the survey, developers seemed to be a bit hotter for VR than they were last year. AR is still dominating, with 32 percent of developers thinking it will be the thing to watch in the next five years, but now a quarter reckon it will be VR. The new Oculus Quest seems to be the most popular headset, with the largest number of developers planning to release games on it. 

Loot box popularity is thankfully dipping, with only 8 percent of developers saying they were working on games with loot box mechanics. It's only a small decrease from last year, however. GDC added a new response to the business model part of the survey this year, taking into account games released on subscription services. 8 percent said they were working on a game that will launch on one of these services. 

On the subject of subscriptions, developers aren't quite sure what to make of them. 27 percent are concerned that Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade will devalue individual games, while 26 percent aren't concerned. The biggest response was "maybe". 

PC is the most popular platform, which it has been since GDC started the survey eight years ago. 50 percent of developers said that PC was the platform they were most interested in, followed by PlayStation 5, at 38 percent, and Switch just below it. Only 25 percent are interested in the next Xbox. 

GDC 2020 begins on March 16. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.