As the video game industry grows, the definition of what it means to be a world-class video game company is evolving. Gaming companies that once relied on their employees’ passion for gaming must now develop more comprehensive talent models. Talent is a constant source of concern for senior executives in the video game industry. Despite last year’s tech layoffs, the talent shortage is ongoing, with job openings in the video game industry increasing by about 40% over the past three years. The rise of AI and its potential effects on the workforce further complicates the problem.
To better understand the dynamics of the talent market and what video game companies need to do to attract and retain the people they need, we spoke with 20 executives from 17 major video game companies, from large publishers to small studios. We also analyzed talent flows and motivation factors from LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
Our findings suggest that while the industry has long relied on its employees’ passion for gaming, companies will need to develop more comprehensive talent management strategies if they are to secure the workforce needed for growth. .
A passionate workforce
Historically, video game companies have hired from within the industry, thus competing with other game companies rather than the tech industry as a whole for talent. Over the past five years, approximately 80% of people hired by video game companies have come from the industry, and 85% of those who left their video game company have remained in the industry.
Executives highlighted that purpose is the most common reason employees join a video game company, namely the satisfaction of contributing to something valuable, important and exciting. Over time, work-life balance, compensation, and supportive leadership become more important to most employees, and these aspects are more important early on for people who don’t join the company out of a passion for Games.
Most leaders said the culture of “burn and churn” still exists. On average, the video game industry is experiencing a higher rate of key talent attrition than the tech industry as a whole: 10% versus 6% in 2022 (see Figure 1). People in key positions in the video game industry have, on average, less work experience than employees in similar positions in the broader technology industry (see Figure 2).
The percentage of people leaving their jobs in video games is significantly higher than in the tech sector as a whole.