The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Leading in Innovations and Layoffs: The State of the Video Game Industry

Infographic of estimates from the independent website by Maliahguiya Sourgose.

As the new year begins, some of the gaming industry’s biggest players have already announced layoffs. NPR reported almost 6,500 video game workers have been laid off in the first two months of 2024 alone. At this same time last year, there were barely over a thousand layoffs.

Many are asking why gaming layoffs are commonplace and thousands of workers in this field are subject to losing their jobs each year when the gaming industry is by far the most lucrative entertainment industry.

A commonly accepted reason is the lasting effects of the pandemic. In 2020, many businesses sought qualified workers to fill their missing roles amid lockdowns. Now, most companies are no longer working remotely and have a steady workflow. 

Because of the abundance of people who now work at these companies, it seems like the easiest way to make up for revenue loss is to lay off workers, especially if they were hired in the height of the pandemic.

Epic Games, creators of one of the world’s most popular games, Fortnite, laid off around 800 employees in September 2023, according to The Verge. The decision begs the question of how the makers of the highest-earning games year-round end up having to lay off their employees. 

With Epic Games’ decision to lay off 16% of their workforce, this effect was felt by companies that are not in the gaming industry. Earlier in the year, Epic Games acquired Bandcamp, a platform for fans to directly support up-and-coming bands and artists. Amid the layoffs, Epic sold Bandcamp to the licensing platform Songtradr.

This is just one example of a wave of layoffs that cascades through different industries, and massive business acquisitions have not prevented the surge.

Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard was a prominent business story in 2022, transcending gaming news and breaking into the mainstream media. After announcing their intent, the deal went through and was finalized at the end of 2023. One of the biggest technology companies in the world now owns some of gaming’s most iconic franchises, including Call of Duty, Overwatch and Candy Crush. Despite the popular titles, they still laid off 9% of their gaming division in the beginning of 2024, totaling a staggering 1,900 people, according to CNBC.

Acquisitions usually mark exciting new partnerships and spawn bigger and better content for video game players, but Microsoft’s did not bear such results. Epic Games and Microsoft’s layoffs contribute to the stigma that job security is low in the video game industry.

Editor’s Note: A correction on the infographic was made to the online version of this story. We previously stated Natalie Ammari designed it. We are correcting our mistake and appropriating credits to our Illustrator Maliahguiya Sourgose. 

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