Game developers aren’t so hot on NFTs, the metaverse, or huge acquisitions

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Ahead of the Game Developers Conference in March, the organizers of the event have released its annual State of the Industry survey results. Surveying 2,300 respondents, the questionnaire covered developer sentiment on a wide range of topics, including NFTs, unionization, the metaverse, and more.

As overall sentiment on NFTs cools amid continuous stories of fraud and scandal, the GDC survey reports only 23 percent of developers say that their studios are interested in Web3 technology — a slight decline from 27 percent last year. There does seem to be a marked decrease in NFTs and crypto in video games, as anytime a studio announces a Web3-based project, consumer backlash usually causes it to reverse course. Of the 2,300 respondents to the survey, 75 percent of them marked “not interested” when asked if their studio was interested in blockchain technology. When asked how their opinion on Web3 had changed from last year, 56 percent said they weren’t interested then and still aren’t now. Despite this clear lack of support, Square Enix seems to be one of the lone holdouts on this trend, doubling down on its commitment to NFTs in its 2023 New Year letter.

Companies like Meta are continuing to push forward their vision for a leg-filled metaverse, but the GDC survey says that developers already have a perfectly fine metaverse at home: Fortnite. When asked to rank which companies are most likely to deliver a true metaverse, 14 percent responded with Epic Games, double that of Meta and Minecraft. Despite this seeming approval of the crossover fanfiction generator disguised as a battle royale game, a majority of respondents expressed little faith in the metaverse overall. According to the press release announcing the survey’s results, “nearly half (45 percent) of respondents didn’t select any companies / platforms, instead stating that the metaverse concept will never deliver on its promise.”

When asked what the metaverse needed to become sustainable, one respondent wrote, “A clear definition: The ‘metaverse promise,’ as it stands, is nothing. The people trying to sell it have no idea what it is, and neither do the consumers.” So true, bestie.

As Microsoft and Blizzard lead the way in unionization efforts in the industry (with one more unwitting than the other), the GDC survey suggests we’ll see even more in the coming years. Over 50 percent of respondents support unionization, with over 20 percent saying they’ve discussed unionization efforts at work.

Speaking of Microsoft, the company’s attempt to unhinge its jaw and swallow Activision Blizzard whole is concerning to the developers surveyed. Only 17 percent of respondents think major acquisitions like this one will benefit the industry, with 44 percent saying it will have a negative impact.

In a part of the survey that encouraged respondents to share their feelings about such acquisitions, one person wrote that consolidation was an inevitable course and that it shouldn’t be feared. Another wrote, “Big companies get bigger. More homogenization. Less originality. But hey, I guess Banjo-Kazooie can show up in Guitar Hero now.”

GDC starts on March 20th.

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