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Survey finds more than half of game developers experience crunch

Most respondents work standard 40 hours a week on average

A new union survey raised further concerns about crunch culture in game development, with more than half experiencing crunch in the past two years.

As reported by IGN, the entertainment union known as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) collected data from hundreds of AAA, mobile, and indie developers between March and mid-August 2023.

57% of those surveyed said they most recently worked on an AAA game. The average years of industry experience among developers who participated was 6.9 years, with less than half of respondents working for seven or more years in the industry.

IATSE's 2023 Rates and Conditions survey showed that most respondents said they worked an average of 40 hours a week, but a quarter of people who answered said they worked for 41 hours or more.

The longest reported average was 95 hours a week.

Over half (58%) of respondents said they were paid with an annual salary, and 26.4% worked under hourly pay. Many salaried developers reported issues with overtime pay, with some claiming they were "exempt".

"It's frustrating to work a 14-hour day and know that with California overtime laws, I should be getting paid for 18 hours of my time when I'm only getting paid eight," one worker said.

Of those surveyed, 54.3% of people said they were not able to negotiate a pay rise. Under half of respondents said their pay wasn't balanced with the cost of living, while 20% were unsure.

Retirement security was also a big concern. Over 36% of developers said they don't have an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

When asked if they believed their career to be sustainable, 42.9% of workers said yes. However, 37.9% found it was unsustainable and 19.2% said they were unsure.

The IATSE survey also covered data including industry experience, freelance pay, tasks outside the job description, remote work, healthcare, and more.

IATSE is planning to hold a town hall with respondents to determine the next steps, and aims to "create a discussion surrounding unionisation in the games industry."

Last year, a report by UNI Global Union found that 79% of games industry workers supported unionisation.

A previous version of this article misinterpreted some of the findings from the survey. That version has been removed and the story rewritten above.

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Sophie McEvoy avatar
Sophie McEvoy: Sophie McEvoy is a Staff Writer at She is based in Hampshire and has been a gaming & entertainment journalist since 2018.
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