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The impact of 16,000 games industry layoffs, in one chart

The scale of the past year of videogame layoffs is a hard thing to wrap your head around. We’re confronted with more big numbers almost every week: the latest “regrettable” cuts made by this or that gaming company in the name of staying “agile and competitive.” The announcements blur together and the numbers become talking points, but within each statistic are scores of intimate miniature apocalypses: someone’s livelihood, maybe their dream job or first break in this competitive industry, dashed against the wall.

The causes of this recent industry contraction include studio consolidation, tightened margins after an early Covid-era boom, and good old fashioned corporate greed. Today, we’re just focusing on the personal impact: a snapshot of the industry crisis from January 2023 through January ’24 with testimonies from some of the people who lost their jobs.

Each individual dot on the graphic above represents one person laid off at some point in the last 13 months. In addition to PC Gamer’s own reporting,,, and the public Games Industry Layoffs tracker hosted on Obsidian Publishing were essential resources in compiling the big picture.

Our own estimated total for 2023’s layoffs was 11,250 people (the Obsidian tracker posits at least 10,500), while in 2024 we had already reached nearly 6,000 layoffs (5,900 on the public list) by the end of January. More layoffs have been reported in the early days of February, including an unknown number at Visual Concepts Austin, which Take-Two acquired in 2021.

As many observers have pointed out, the industry is already halfway to 2023’s total layoffs just one month into 2024. 2023 was higher than 2022’s estimated 8,500 total layoffs, and the wider tech downturn that these games layoffs spun off from was already underway by the end of that year.

One question we keep coming back to at PCG is how aberrant these layoffs are in games history, with the possibility that a combination of social media attention and increased scrutiny of industry labor practices has brought an issue that’s always been this bad more to the forefront. While we don’t have a statistical answer to that question, I was struck by former HakJak sound designer and industry veteran Michelle Hebert’s testimony on the matter. Despite this being the fourth time she’s been laid off in 15 years, Hebert has found the recent situation far grimmer than in the past.

“Before there were plenty of places to land and studios would respond to swoop up talent,” she said. “This time, they’re not there because everyone is drowning it feels.”

On the other end of the spectrum, this is the first time former Blizzard senior environment artist Molly Warner has been laid off in her 10 years in the industry, but she understandably says that “one is enough.”

With thousands of developers now looking for work, new roles are difficult to come by. But there are also resources dedicated to help game developers find new jobs. On LinkedIn, Amir Satvat organizes volunteer mentorship and CV reviews in addition to constantly updating lists of laid off developers and job opportunities. Cristina Amaya runs a Slack server for job-seeking devs. There’s also a UK games industry Slack group to turn to.

Below we’ve included a number of responses from developers who were willing to share their stories with PC Gamer. All of them have been affected by layoffs in the last 12 months. They represent just 0.05% of the total impact.

Faces of the 2023-2024 games industry layoffs

Nathan Kellman

Years at studio: 1.5 | Career layoffs experienced: 2 in 2.5 years

“It’s heartbreaking to see an industry I love so much go through so much turmoil and to see so many close friends stress about how to feed their families or pay their bills. What’s even more painful is that I have heard from many students that they are giving up on getting into games after seeing these layoffs. They feel like with so many layoffs that they are not going to get a chance to break in. The industry is already hard enough to break into and these layoffs are only going to drive away talent, which our industry will suffer from for years to come if things do not calm down soon.”

Colin McInerney

Time at studios: 8 months / 11 months | Career layoffs experienced: 2 layoffs in 2023

“I’m disappointed that the industry that brought me nothing but joy and wonder as a child has decided to kick the shit out of me as an adult.

“Many of these companies ballooned in the pandemic. They bought up debt while it was nice and cheap, and they’re smart enough business-wise to know that wouldn’t last,and werewilling to gamble on that. Their gambles mean that these conditions are expected to continue through the rest of this year and into 2025, and we’ve already had half of last year’slayoffs. There’s still plenty of time for it to get worse. The game industry needs a strong union to keep this from happening again, as those in power have shown time and time again that they will not take responsibility for our livelihoods.”

Sean Kord

Years at studio: 7 | Career layoffs experienced: 1

“When I was laid off, it included about 15 people in a 50 person office May 2023 […] I thought this was a result of new ownership changing directions and as such did not consider the larger picture.But soon, I realized this was a growing systemic problem for the whole industry as I read more and morelayoffsand saw larger numbers. […] My mood due to this varies between optimism in finding new work to negative thoughts about myself and worth in the industry. I am seeking help in this area and advise others to please do the same. […]

“It’s been rough and I hope to land on my feet again soon doing what I love to do, make animations for games. And I want others to know you will too and to keep at it!This industry will rise back up as it has many times before.”

Megan Embree

Years at studio: 13 | Career layoffs experienced: 4 (first affected)

“The cancellation of Blizzard’s Unannounced Survival game resulted in the layoff of nearly our entire team, leaving us grappling with not only the shock of now looking for employment—some after having just relocating to work in Irvine – but also with the death of a game and team we were extremely excited to be making. I’m thankful that our former team has hanged together to support each other throughout this indescribable time.”

Abdul Banglee

Years at studio: 1 | Career layoffs experienced: 1 in first year

“As a Junior who put blood, sweat, and tears into obtaining my first role in the industry, I am now back again going in circles looking for roles that are junior level (which is non-existent as every job posting I see is either Senior, Principal, or Lead). Not only am I fighting an uphill battle, studios are still committing layoffs as I write this, meaning the probability of finding opportunities for me is very slim. I am passionate and hungry to get back into working in game development as I love working in games, but the outlook of the industry may force me to look for something else in the meantime for the foreseeable future.”

Molly Warner

Years at studio: 2 | Career layoffs experienced: 1 in 10 years

“Overwatch 2 was my passion and my perfect dream job, so I am completely devastated that me and my entire amazing team were eliminated despite our critical importance to the game.”

Brian Regan

Years at studio: 1.5 | Career layoffs experienced: 4 in 29 years

“It’s really disheartening to see a year filled with such great releases and record-setting profits filled with so manylayoffs.”

Michelle Hebert

Years at studio: 1 | Career layoffs experienced: 4 in 15 years

“This time things feel extremely different from my previous layoffs…Before there were plenty of places to land and Studios would respond to swoop up talent.This time, they’re not there because everyone is drowning it feels.”

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