As commonplace as it’s become to see big, bold speculations about a futuristic metaverse in games industry discussions, game developers themselves don’t seem too hot on the concept.
The 2023 State of the Game Industry survey has just been published, canvassing over 2,300 game developers for their situations and opinions on topics such as platform development, working conditions, and interest in technology. One of its more interesting questions this year was specifically about the metaverse:
“Which of these companies/platforms do you think is best placed to deliver on the promise of the metaverse concept?”
The platform that ultimately got the most votes was Epic Games’ Fornite with 14%, followed by Meta (Horizon Worlds) at 7% and Microsoft (Minecraft) also at 7%. Five percent of developers said Roblox, and even fewer brought up options like Google, Apple, Second Life, Sony, Tencent, Amazon, and VR Chat.
But nothing got anywhere near as many votes as an answer that isn’t a platform at all: “None – The metaverse concept will never deliver on its promise,” which took away 45% of the vote, up from 33% last year. So almost half of all game developers surveyed don’t think the metaverse promise is worth much at all.
While IGN doesn’t have access to all the survey answers, GDC and Game Developer did publish a handful of comments submitted by respondents that can help shed some light. In particular, the question “What does the metaverse need to become sustainable?” included a lengthy response from one survey taker that, per GDC, “seemed to represent the voices of a significant majority of respondents.” The response focused on the metaverse as a VR experience, noting that VR environments were currently missing levels of interactivity, affordability, control standardization, and hardware quality necessary to make the metaverse a reality.
The respondent also pointed out that even with all that, there still wasn’t a clear definition of what the metaverse was supposed to be.
“The ‘metaverse promise,’ as it stands, is nothing,” they wrote. “The people trying to sell it have no idea what it is, and neither do the consumers. Remember what happened, and keeps happening, with cloud gaming a decade ago?”
Other respondents’ comments noted that the metaverse already existed effectively, and companies just kept rebranding it, and one comment suggested it simply shouldn’t exist at all.
Among Us VR Screens [Meta Quest version]
The metaverse has been discussed a great deal, certainly, and plenty of money has flowed in to make it happen in recent years. But companies like Meta have also lost a lot of that money as their bets have failed to pay off, leading even industry leaders to question whether or not the cost is worth it.
Alongside the metaverse question, the survey also asked developers about interests in other technology, such as blockchain. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they weren’t interested in it at all, and 56% were outright opposed to its use.
Additionally, developers were asked about workplace culture and policies. Sixteen percent said that their companies had facilitated changes to healthcare policies related to reproductive care in the last year in a question asked in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and nine percent said their companies had improved their trans-inclusive healthcare policies.
Working hours has always been a big topic in these surveys, too. In this year’s survey, 29% of respondents said they worked an average of 36-40 hours per week. 33% worked less on average, while 38% worked more. But when asked about the maximum hours per week they had worked in a single week, 46% said they had worked over 50, and 16% had worked over 70 hours in a single week.
Among reasons cited were self-pressure (74%), management pressure (14%), and peer pressure (11%), while 36% said they didn’t feel they worked excessively (54% of respondents did not report ever working more than 50 hours in a single week).
The full report is downloadable here and includes responses on other topics such as platform interest, and industry opinions on unionization and consolidation.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.
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