July 17, 2020

COVID-19 has impacted the video game industry in a myriad of ways. While stay-at-home orders have bolstered sales and online engagement, hiring and production have slowed for some companies and increased in others. Let’s find out how gaming studios are hiring during COVID-19.

Larger international game companies like Activision Blizzard and 2K Games have continued to hire talent creating opportunities for job seekers with remote capabilities. The future landscape is uncertain, but one thing is for sure, if you want to work in the games industry, there are still a variety of roles available. Plus, companies are discovering new ways to develop games remotely.

Game Job Hunting in the Pandemic

In the face of uncertainty, the amount of job postings in every industry dropped 30% year over year. However, as of the end of March 2020 79% of game studios were still hiring according to Aardvark Swift. Tech salary negotiating firm Candor reported as of May 2020, there were 10 times more gaming companies hiring than firing. That’s great news for job candidates overall, but not every company is hiring or retaining staff at the moment.

Game companies have moved a considerable amount of the development cycle online. Meanwhile, several release dates are being pushed back to accommodate for factory and retail shutdowns. Certain roles including marketing, research, live events, and motion capture positions are not being filled for the time being. 

Willing to relocate for a dream job? When seeking employment in the gaming industry, it will be important to keep in mind that each country’s precautions may vary, impacting whether you will be able to eventually commute or relocate to a job. In fact, several international job candidates in the industry are being offered the chance to delay acceptance until the pandemic uncertainty has dissipated.

Key Players Hiring During COVID-19

Despite setbacks, a number of major game studios and publishers are still hiring. Bungie is hiring for several roles including artists and engineers. The same goes for Playtika, Pocket Gems, Nintendo, Epic Games, Rockstar, Ubisoft, and others. PlayStation London is reportedly hiring, but does not list any specific positions on the website. Again, some of these job offers may not go into effect until physical studios can reopen. However, HR managers are still talking to candidates.

Candor keeps an updated list of companies that are hiring or undergoing layoffs/hiring freezes. Job sites like ggLocators, Hitmarker and Indeed are still brimming with listings, as well.

Continued recruitment during COVID-19 shutdowns is telling for the future of the video game industry, which may experience a record year in sales and online viewership in 2020. Some games have been pushed out to a later release date, like Cyberpunk 2077, while next-gen consoles Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X will launch on schedule. 

Xbox lead Phil Spencer warned that the game industry will feel the effects of COVID-19 in early 2021. It will be interesting to watch reports from the game industry regarding how the dreaded pre-release “crunch time” has been impacted by remote work.

What Game Job Seekers Need to Know

No one is quite sure if things will ever go back to “normal,” but game companies have been forced to adapt in ways that will no doubt impact the industry forever. For example, the ability for employees to continue working from home and from other time zones while maintaining security standards is vital for survival both in the current climate and future emergencies.

If you’re not used to working remotely, now is the time to learn skills like communication, time management, and holding yourself accountable to deadlines when no one is looking over your shoulder. Networking has never been more important, and the gaming industry isn’t going to become less competitive just because some functions have been put on hold. 

Take advantage of networking sites, virtual events, and the technology available to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and offer “virtual coffee” over a video chat to build those relationships that will set you apart.

Lastly, keep an open mind. If you had your heart set on one company that is no longer hiring or a position that has been put on hold, don’t lose hope. Take this time to learn new skills, network, and explore parallel opportunities. The dream job you never knew you wanted just might make itself known to you!

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