Roughly 6,500 video game workers have been laid off globally since January
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
The video game industry is making big money. One of the most popular is Fortnite, the online battle royale game.
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MARTÍNEZ: But that wasn't enough to keep its maker, Epic Games, from laying off 16% of its workforce back in September. Throughout 2023, more than 6,500 jobs have been lost in the video game industry. That's according to the LA Times. To find out why this is happening and what video game job seekers can do about it, we reached out to Amir Satvat. He's a business development director at Tencent Games, and he created the Games Jobs Workbook, a resource on LinkedIn to help people find jobs in the game industry.
AMIR SATVAT: Last year, I started noticing that a number of my colleagues were losing their positions. I said, you know, I have to do something about this. And I wanted to make a set of simple tools for people to immediately jump on to help them look for positions that could get them back in roles faster.
MARTÍNEZ: How many people would you say that you've helped with this?
SATVAT: You know, we've placed over 800 people in jobs, and while there have been, depending upon whom you ask, 6,500 to 7,000 jobs lost in the industry because of course, we can't place all of those jobs back in one year, my best estimates, which I've shared with others, is that I believe we placed back nearly a third of the people who've lost their jobs worldwide, just through our community.
MARTÍNEZ: Why have there been so many layoffs this year?
SATVAT: You know, games, like any industry, has a lot of volatility. If we think about COVID, for example, people were at home. There was a lot more demand for movies, for, you know, TV shows, for games. I think a lot of people in leadership perhaps overinvested for that peak and thought that that was going to sustain forever. And of course it did not. There are other reasons, but I think that's the biggest one.
MARTÍNEZ: What does it mean, then, for the industry if there are so many layoffs, considering that - from what I've read and heard, that 2023 was a great year for video games?
SATVAT: It is a great year. I mean, what I would say is 90% of the layoffs were in North America, so those of us here feel it more. I also think the boom-bust cycles of games have become more extreme because of the higher cost of developing games and the types of games that are made. So I think you feel those up and down swings, but we've had swings like this, unfortunately, before. I would still say, though, that the games industry is bigger than North American sports and movies combined, so I wouldn't bet against the industry, although this is an awful low.
MARTÍNEZ: And it's not just one person or two people that make these games, right? It's like a movie. When you see the movie credits roll, there are hundreds of people working on a movie. Does a video game work the same way?
SATVAT: Oh, it does. It can even be more extreme. You know, big titles by studios like Rockstar that makes "Grand Theft Auto" or "Red Dead Redemption" - they can easily have over, you know, a thousand, even over 1,500 people. So, you know, I think a lot of people don't realize that these big titles make multiples the amount of big movies and have multiple the amounts of staff.
MARTÍNEZ: Amir, do you have any advice for game developers that have lost their jobs recently?
SATVAT: Absolutely. I mean, most of all, I would say talk to people and make connections. People, understandably, are so fast to reach out to others and say, can you help me get a role? That can often feel transactional, especially when they're already getting so many notes. Data I have suggest you're 10 times more likely to get a job if you have any connection to someone on the recruiting or hiring team. Reaching out and just saying, can I talk to you - you have to allow yourself five to six months even in normal times, I think, to get a job in this industry 'cause it's so competitive, so don't be transactional. Build relationships and take your time.
MARTÍNEZ: That's Amir Satvat. He publishes resources for video game job hunters.
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