What indie devs say about 2023 games market: overcrowding, uncertainty about future funding, but faith in recovery

Despite many great releases, 2023 hasn’t been all that good (to put it mildly) for people making games. Here are the prevailing sentiments among developers about the current state of the market and the possible future.

Too many games, hiring freeze, and faith in recovery: what indie devs think of 2023 and beyond

Image credit: Pikurā

Last week, experienced game marketer Yannick Elahee aka Tavrox shared the results of a small survey on what fellow indie devs think of 2023 so far (thanks, GameDiscoverCo).

Here’s a little warning: “Sample is a bit low (58 answers), so don’t take these numbers too seriously.” However, there are still some interesting takeaways that can be seen below.

  • The market may definitely be overcrowded, with 60.3% of respondents thinking there are too many games being released right now.
  • 69% say it will be hard for them to find funding for their new projects. Only 12% are confident that they will be able to get an investment or a publishing deal, and 15.5% are unsure.

  • It is getting harder for smaller developers and studios to find contract work. This is a warning sign, because outsourcing could help a team stay afloat during headwinds.
  • For studios and people in a position to hire, “70% of the hiring has been frozen.” This is sad, but unfortunately not surprising given the scale of layoffs in the games industry this year and the fact that many big companies are also stopping hiring as actively as they did during the pandemic.
  • According to Tavrox, there are three things developers cite as the main factors for the current situation: “correction from an over optimistic market,” inflation rates causing a money shortage, and general overcrowding.
  • Interestingly, most respondents remain optimistic about the situation, with 56,9% believing that the global games industry will get better in around 12 months to two years.

  • Nearly 60% of respondents are investing in new games. However, there is almost an equal split between developers who adapt the scope of their studios or games to meet new market realities, and those who don’t — 43.6% vs. 41.8%.

  • When asked how confident they are in the future of game development tools like Unity or Godot on a scale from 1 to 5, 31.6% are very optimistic, while 35.1% and 22.8% rated their confidence at 3 and 4 respectively.

More details and data can be found in the full survey on Tavrox’s blog.

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