Game Developers Concerned About Ethics of AI, Layoffs, and More

Game creators are speaking up about ethical problems with AI tools in their field. The Game Developers Conference (GDC) yearly survey shows that a massive 84 percent of over 3,000 people surveyed are troubled by the moral issues of using generative AI.

This study looked into why they’re worried. The devs are scared that AI might take over people’s jobs, causing them to lose work and that they might face legal trouble for copyright issues. They’re also nervous about AI stealing data from their games without asking first.

GDC’s survey further dissected developer sentiment based on their job roles. Respondents in technical fields like marketing, programming, and business generally believed AI would positively impact their work, while those in creative roles such as art, narrative, and quality assurance felt that AI could negatively affect their jobs.

“I think completely replacing someone’s job is a genuine concern. It should be used to enhance capabilities, not reduce the workforce,”

expressed an anonymous respondent in the survey.

Concerns Beyond AI

AI isn’t the only concern among developers. The survey highlighted several other industry issues:

  • The choice of video game engine software is a major topic, with 33 percent of surveyed developers using Unity or Unreal Engine. Unity’s recent pricing model changes have led one-third of respondents to consider switching game engines.
  • Return-to-office (RTO) mandates have affected developer morale, with over one-fourth of developers facing mandatory RTO policies. This has resulted in dissatisfaction among developers who have proven their ability to work from home during the pandemic.
  • Layoffs have impacted over one-third of respondents personally or within their companies. Respondents attributed these layoffs to the “post-pandemic course correction” as studios grew rapidly during the pandemic while consumers faced a cost-of-living crisis.

Dom Tait, research director at Omdia, noted that layoffs are a result of employers adjusting spending levels to return to pre-pandemic standards. However, he expects future employment levels to stabilize as the industry forecasts steady growth until 2027.

Generative AI Tools in the Industry

Another study called the 2024 State of the Industry Report by the Game Developers Conference, took a deep dive into how common generative AI tools are in the field. They asked over 3,000 experts back in October. Turns out that almost half of the people polled said they’re already working with generative AI at their job.

However, the survey also highlighted differing attitudes within various departments. While 44 percent of employees in business and finance reported using AI tools, only 16 percent in visual arts and 13 percent in narrative/writing did the same.

Interestingly, among those who stated their companies did not use AI tools, 15 percent expressed interest in pursuing them, while 23 percent had no interest at all. Additionally, 12 percent of respondents indicated their companies outright banned AI tool usage, rising to 21 percent among AAA developers.

Despite their prevalence, generative AI tools raised ethical concerns among developers. A significant 84 percent expressed some level of concern about the ethics of using these tools in game development.

Other Industry Insights

The survey explored various other industry topics:

  • Blockchain technology’s popularity appears to be waning, with 77 percent of developers showing no interest in it, and only 2 percent currently using it.
  • Unionization garnered more support, with 57 percent of respondents in favor, up from 53 percent the previous year. However, only 23 percent reported being part of a union or discussing unionization at their workplace.
  • Interest in a potential “Nintendo Switch 2” is growing, with 8 percent of developers currently working on games for it, and 32 percent expressing interest. This marks a notable increase in interest compared to the current Nintendo Switch.

Overall, the game development industry is facing challenges related to AI, layoffs, and shifting interests in emerging technologies. Developers are navigating these changes while keeping a close eye on ethics and their work environment.

Ryan Lenett
At his core, Ryan’s true passion is helping others achieve their own independent goals in life. His skill sets consist of Scientific research, Gadget Reviews and Technical testing. Year over year, Ryan has consistently amassed revenue streams that exceed seven figures in value.