Game developer poll suggests longer hours and less productivity as the industry adapts to remote work

Ahead of the upcoming online-only version of its big annual conference, GDC commissioned a survey of 2,500 game developers to determine how the industry is coping with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While gaming sales are up as many turn to the medium to cope with stay-at-home orders, the virus appears to be impacting devs in similar (if somewhat blunted) fashion to innumerable other industries.

For starters, 32% find themselves being less productive, in spite of working longer hours. That no doubt sounds familiar to anyone who has attempted to transition to a home office amid the pandemic. Some 70% of developers say they’ve moved to working from home — if that number seems relatively low, that’s only because 27% of those surveyed say they were already working from home. That leaves some 3% in the office, I suppose.

One-quarter of respondents say their household income has declined, while a third say their business has declined over the last few months. A third also say they’ve had a project delayed. That could certainly complicate the upcoming schedules of the latest version of the Xbox and PlayStation, both due out at the end of the year.

The shift toward moving online found many companies scrambling to update their workflows, including a shift to different cloud services. Though, the nature of the industry means that many were already accustomed to having a distributed workforce prior to the pandemic. While two-thirds say their company has a plan to return to the office, only 12% feel safe returning to the office right now.

The majority of respondents added that they believe the pandemic will permanently change some aspect of their workplace, going forward. “We had to make some changes on our daily tasks to compensate not being at our office working physically together, but those have proven to increase our efficiency and productivity,” one developer responded. “Lately we have even talked about embracing the home office configuration even after the pandemic.”