Survey Reveals Game Developers Skeptical of Metaverse Promise, with 45% Believing It Will Never Deliver
As prevalent as huge, dramatic ideas about a futuristic metaverse have grown in game industry conversations, game developers themselves don’t appear too keen on the subject.
The 2023 State of the Game Industry survey has recently been released, polling over 2,300 game creators on subjects such as platform development, working environment, and technological interest. This year, one of the more intriguing topics was about the metaverse:
“Which of these companies/platforms do you believe is best positioned to deliver on the metaverse concept’s promise?”
Epic Games Fortnite received the most votes, garnering 14%, followed by Meta (Horizon Worlds) at 7% and Microsoft (Minecraft) at 7%. Only 5% of developers mentioned Roblox, and even fewer mentioned Google, Apple, Second Life, Sony, Tencent, Amazon, and VR Chat.
Nothing, however, received almost as many votes as “None – The metaverse concept will never deliver on its promise,” which received 45% of the vote, up from 33% last year. As a result, over half of all game developers polled believe the metaverse promise isn’t worth anything.
While IGN does not have access to all of the survey responses, GDC and Game Developer did post a few remarks from respondents that can give some light.
The question “What does the metaverse require to be sustainable?” in particular included a lengthy response from one survey taker that, according to GDC, “seemed to represent the voices of a significant majority of respondents.”
The reaction centered on the metaverse as a VR experience, emphasizing that current VR settings lacked the levels of engagement, affordability, control uniformity, and hardware quality required to make the metaverse a reality.
Even with all of that, the commenter pointed out, there was no clear definition of what the metaverse was supposed to be.
“As it is, the metaverse promise’ is nothing,” they wrote. “The people trying to market it has no idea what it is, and neither do the customers. Remember what occurred (and continues to happen) with cloud gaming a decade ago?”
Other respondents’ responses emphasized that the metaverse already existed and that firms were simply rebranding it, and one reply claimed that it shouldn’t exist at all.
VR Screens Among Us [Meta Quest Version]
The metaverse has certainly been explored extensively, and major funds have gone in to make it a reality in recent years. However, companies such as Meta have lost a significant amount of money as their bets have failed to pay off, prompting even industry executives to ask if the expense is worthwhile.
Along with the metaverse question, the study also inquired about developers’ interest in other technologies, such as blockchain. Seventy-five percent of those polled were uninterested in it, and 56% were overtly opposed to its use.
Developers were also questioned about workplace culture and policies. In reaction to the Roe v. Wade decision, sixteen percent of respondents indicated their employers facilitated changes to reproductive healthcare policies in the previous year, while nine percent said their companies enhanced their trans-inclusive healthcare policies.
Working hours have always been a hot topic in these polls. In this year’s study, 29% of respondents reported they worked 36-40 hours per week on average. On average, 33% worked less, while 38% worked more.
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When asked how many hours a week they had worked in a single week, 46% said they had worked more than 50, and 16% said they had worked more than 70.
Self-pressure (74%), management pressure (14%), and peer pressure (11%), among others, were listed as explanations, whereas 36% claimed they didn’t feel they worked excessively (54% of respondents did not remember ever working more than 50 hours in a single week).
The full research, which includes responses on other issues such as platform interest and industry attitudes on unionization and consolidation, is available for download here.