Please Wrap It Up

A picture of a screen at the 2023 game awards displaying the text please wrap it up

the games industry 2023

10,000+ employees were laid off in 2023
Some of the larger layoffs include:

Hasbro - 1,900
Unity - 1,165
Electronic Arts - 1,130
ByteDance - 1,000
Embracer Group - 954
Epic Games - 830
Amazon - 715

“I have personally never written so many stories about layoffs from the industry... I've never heard from so many workers concerned about layoffs in the industry, which is interesting because the video game industry is notoriously volatile.”

- Nicole Carpenter, Senior Reporter, Polygon

Promo shot of Hogwarts Legacy

2023 Total Global Revenue

+0.6% YoY

Image of Mario and Luigi running through a level collecting coins

2023 Tech Layoffs

1178 tech companies with layoffs this year

260,771 employees laid off, including:

21,000 from Meta
10,000 from Microsoft
9,000 from Amazon
7,000 from Disney

Promo shot of Tears of the Kingdom

CEO Pay//Net Worth

John Riccitiello's compensation in 2022 was $11,805,430,
net worth more than $188 million

Electronic Arts
Andrew Wilson's compensation in 2023 was $20+ million,
net worth more than $165 million

Shou Zi Chew's salary unknown,
estimated net worth of $200 million

Embracer Group
Lars Wingefors salary in 2023 was $146,160,
net worth of $1.1 billion

Epic Games
Tim Sweeney's salary unknown,
estimated net worth more than $5 billion

Promo shot of Gwent

“I know this news is especially difficult during the holiday season, there is no sugar-coating how hard this is, particularly for the employees directly affected. But it is a lever we must pull to keep Hasbro healthy.”

- Excerpt from a recent memo from Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks announcing 1,100 employee layoffs across Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast (in addition to the 800 employees laid off in January 2023).

$10.9 million

- Chris Cocks' total compensation.

Scrooge and family playing in piles of money

The company's K-8 form indicates that there have been no reductions in the levels of executive pay, bonuses, or other additional renumeration in the company.

Highest Selling Games 2023

Hogwarts Legacy
Developed by Avalanche Software, published by Warner Bros.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
Developed by Infinity Ward, published by Activision

Baldur's Gate 3
Developed and published by Larian Studios
$209.7 million

Marvel's Spider-Man 2
Developed by Insomniac Games, published by Sony Interactive Entertainment
2.5 million copies sold in first 24hrs, exact revenue unknown

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Developed and published by Nintendo
Globally sold 19.5 million copies, exact revenue unknown

Shot from Marvel's Spider-Man 2

The Highest Paid CEOs in 2020

Robert Antokol (Playtika)
$372 million

Bobby Kotick (Activision Blizzard)
$154.6 million

Andrew Paradise (Skillz)
$103.3 million

Andrew Wilson (Electronic Arts)
$34.7 million

Frank Gibeau (Zynga)
$32 million

John Riccitiello (Unity)
$22 million

Shot from Baldur's Gate 3

Salary VS Cost of Living

Base Salary for a Game Tester in Vancouver, BC:
CAD$26,000 (USD$19,405)/year

Cost of Living in Vancouver, BC:
CAD$51,912 (USD$38,745)/year


Base Salary for a Game Tester in San Francisco, CA:

Cost of Living in San Francisco, CA:


Andrew Wilson's yearly salary could pay 262 Game Testers an annual salary of $80,000

Promo shot of Alan Wake II

A special mention goes to Embracer Group for laying off employees from 16 of its studios, with further layoffs expected in 2024

Tweet from @markiemusicpro For Christmas this year, I got laid off! Party emoji. If anyone is looking for a level designer or audio please hit me up!

In 2022, Embracer Group spent around $577 million in upfront costs to purchase Limited Run Games, Tripwire Interactive, and the IP rights to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They operate more than 100 studios including Gearbox, Saber Interactive, and THQ Nordic.

Shot from the Hobbit of Smaug on a pile of gold

So who owns who?

Largest Video Game Companies in the World By Revenue:

#1 Sony:
Owns 21 development teams, including Bungie, Guerrilla Games, Haven Studios, Insomniac, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch Productions. It has invested heavily in studios like Epic Games and FromSoftware.

#2 Tencent:
Owns a portion of Bloober Team, Paradox Interactive, PlatinumGames, Remedy, Roblox, and Ubisoft, among others. It has a majority stake in Supercell, Tequila Works, Techland, and others. It owns companies such as Riot Games and Funcom, as well as running multiple internal development companies and publishing labels. Tencent also owns a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, which means every time you buy a game run on Unreal Engine, Tencent is getting a cut.

#3 Microsoft:
Owns nearly 40 studios, including Arkane, Bethesda, id Software, Infinity Ward, Mojang, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, 343 Industries, and Turn 10. Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard King at $68.7 billion was finalized this year. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will resign December 29, 2023, and could receive upward of $375 million in compensation now that the deal is done.

Promo shot of the TV show The Last of Us

The human cost

Layoffs are the most recent problem to plague the video game industry, but they intersect with previous issues including crunch (where people work overtime, usually unpaid, in the lead up to a release or even post-release to fix bugs), exploiting passion for profit, a lack of diversity, and sexism and harrassment at companies and industry events.

Employees afraid of losing their jobs may work longer unpaid hours in a bid to show their value to the company. A article reported in Sept, 2023, that a quarter devs surveyed reported working more than 41 hours a week, with the longest reported average being 95 hours a week.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter in 2022, companies made a show of diversity and inclusion efforts, ramping up hiring and creating councils to promote cultures of belonging for their employees. Axios reports that the video game industry has been slow to hire Black developers, and in another article reports that a disproportionate percentage of the workers laid off since last fall appear to be women.

Meanwhile, this year Riot Games compensated 1,548 women for gender discrimination, and former Ubisoft executives including Serge Hascoët and Tommy François were arrested in connection with a sexual harrassment investigation by French Police.

These issues compound the challenges for those wanting to stay in the industry post-layoff, or for those wanting to enter the industry for the first time. Nicole Carpenter reported in an article for Polygon that:

“Other developers told Polygon they've submitted dozens to hundreds of applications since getting laid off; applying for work is a full-time job. So many of these job applications go unanswered, while a lucky few get pulled into second- and third-round interviews. Several of the people Polygon spoke to have found new jobs, but the majority are still looking, and they expect to be continuing to apply into next year as hiring slows down for the holidays. One developer told Polygon that they've never been looking for a job at the same time as so many of their friends before.”

Scene from Diablo 4 of an imposing angel floating in front of a human

Unionization in Games

As of December, 2023, these are some major studios with unions:

ZeniMax Media (Microsoft)
Avalanche Studios
Anenome Hug
CD Projekt RED
Experis Game Solutions
Keywords Studios
SEGA of America
Tender Claws
Workinman Interactive
Raven Software
Blizzard Albany

Currently, the industry's largest union is made up of 300 quality assurance workers at ZeniMax (Microsoft).

PC Gamer reported in November that SEGA of America has been accused of union-busting threats after telling the whole company it will "phase out" temp employees - nearly half the union's membership. In response, the union has filed an Unfair Labour Practice charge.

Considering organizing? Further resources include:

The Rise of The Video Game Union by Nicole Carpenter

Game Worker Solidarity - mapping and documenting collective movements by game workers striving to improve their working conditions

Game Workers Unite

IWGB Game Workers - for UK game industry workers looking to join a union

Promo shot of Thirsty Suitors

Why the heck are people still here?

“I'm still amazed of what we have accomplished together and how much love the community has shown. [It's] a reminder to myself about why I choose game dev and what makes it so amazing.”

- Adrià S

300+ Baldur's Gate 3 Devs and More Game Award Winners Share Their Reactions

This article is a wonderful reminder of the good in this industry, and the enthusiasm that brings people together to solve problems and build incredible games for others to enjoy.

Promo shot of Sea of Stars

People and Communities Doing Good - the only global games conference

#theGIG - Games Industry Gathering

WIGI - Women In Games International

idga - the International Game Developers Association is the world's largest non-profit membership organization serving all individuals who create games

Amir Satvat - Game Job Seeker's Workbook

Safe In Our World - proudly supporting mental health awareness

Games Done Quick - more than $45 million raised for charity and still going

Diversity in Games, Vancouver, BC

Full Indie Meetup, Vancouver, BC

Pixelles Montreal - a non-profit initiative committed to helping more women make and change games.

Promo shot of Starfield

Sources and Further Reading

GameIndustryBiz - Layoffs
2023 was a banner year for video games - and video game industry layoffs
Video Games in 2023: The Year In Numbers - tech layoffs tracker
John Riccitiello's Salary
John Riccitiello's Net Worth
Andrew Wilson's Salary
Andrew Wilson's Net Worth
Shou Zi Chew's Net Worth
Lars Wingefor's Net Worth
Lars Wingefor's Forbes Profile
Tim Sweeney's Net Worth
Tim Sweeney's Net Worth - updated
@markiemusicpro - layoff announcement tweet
Embracer Group Layoffs Continue at 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks
Game CEO Pay in 2020
Top games CEO totaled $842m in 2020
Hogwarts Legacy Wikipedia
Baldur's Gate Statistics
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Wikipedia
The 20 Best Selling Games of 2023 in the US (So Far)
Spider-Man 2 Becomes PlayStation Studio’s Fastest-Selling Game With 2.5 Million Copies in 24 Hours
Over 6000 Games Industry Jobs Lost in 2023 So Far - video game industry layoffs tracker
300+ Baldur's Gate 3 Devs and More Game Award Winners Share Their Reactions
Glassdoor Salaries - Vancouver Game Tester Salary
San Francisco Game Tester Salary
Cost of Living Vancouver
Cost of Living San Francisco
SEGA workers form largest multi-department video game union in the US
Bobby Kotick out at Activision Blizzard
Bobby Kotick will stay at Activision Blizzard until the end of this year
D&D and MTG owner Hasbro announces massive layoffs
2023 was a year of layoffs and acquisitions | This week's gaming news
The Rise Of The Video Game Union

Promo shot of Tchia

Thanks ♥

Thank you to the game industry devs whose work and effort continue to bring inspiring worlds to life.

Thank you to the journalists who have reported on these layoffs just about every week of 2023.

Thank you to the folks who have tirelessly tracked the numbers as they crept higher and higher.

Thank you to those who have provided resources and support to those impacted.

Hypnospace Color Palette submitted to lospec by Jordan Porcenaluk, originally created for Hypnospace Outlaw by Jay Tholen

Apologies for any errors in the data reported here - while all effort has gone into verifying this information, many numbers were continuing to change (even in the days before Christmas further announcements of layoffs and studio closures were made).

Dedicated to the people who were laid off (once, or twice, or more) in 2023