For better and for worse, the video game industry has so far picked up right where we left off ending 2023. We have already seen a couple of very great video game releases in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown and Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, but the massive layoffs throughout the industry that plagued many game developers and writers (us included) have continued. This is only scratching the surface of issues haunting our space. While there are tons of things to look forward to and be excited about, we can also acknowledge when change needs to happen. Here are the video game industry changes we want to see in 2024, with a couple of suggestions from our community Discord server (feel free to join to be a part of future discussions).
The layoffs have to end
The lovable Tobias Nightbringer from our community Discord covers this topic briefly and to the point. The first change he wants to see in 2024 is for the hardworking people in the industry to stop being screwed over through layoffs. This is easily the hottest topic among anyone working in games today.
Simply put, the rate at which workers are being let go is unsustainable. After Microsoft dispatched enough employees to fill a town slightly bigger than the one I grew up in, we are sitting at over half of the total number of layoffs performed in 2023 in the first month of the new year.
Of course, most of us on the Game Sandwich team felt this kind of heat when we were let go from our jobs last spring. Having your life severely uprooted without any notice or a plan is not a reality people should live in fear of, let alone experience. Further twisting the knife is how companies are continually reporting record revenue and profits for its higher-ups and shareholders while the people who earned them that money have to suffer the stress of not knowing what their future looks like. These people’s pockets are already filled with tons of money. It’s time for them to feel the hit instead of their workers.
More spotlights for original IP
In Tobias’ suggestion, he also mentioned that he wants to see more original IPs being released. While that is a great thing to say, we actually think there are plenty of new works consistently being released in games. Sure, there are tons of remasters, remakes, and sequels, but there are also uncountable indies and smaller developers consistently putting out new experiences. What we would champion is bigger platforms for which these ambitious games could be shown off to a wider audience.
We will give some credit to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo in that they have gotten much better about showcasing smaller titles. That said, there is still plenty of room to be better. No matter how much you love your Call of Duty, Madden, or other big-time releases, we bet you anything that there are plenty of original games out there that you have never heard of that you would absolutely love.
More story games, fewer live service games
As suggested by community member Spartan_073, less of an emphasis on live service games would be a great step for games. In the last decade, there has been an explosion of games that can technically never be completed. Everything wants to be the one game you play forever and dump your money into on microtransactions and battle passes. Destiny was the true first live service game to take off in the modern definition of the genre, but since then, there has been a massive influx of games trying to be the “next big thing.” Sure, there have been some successes, but the chase for the neverending payday from game companies has also led to many promising developers being shut down.
Personally, I love Overwatch 2, but I don’t want to be constantly assaulted by every new live service game advertising its latest FOMO content. These games feel like chores at times, and many exciting features that could add to those experiences get cut because they don’t have the long-term money potential of the standard online experience: Overwatch’s PvE content, for example. Hi-Fi Rush was a brilliant example of a surprise hit last year that did everything you want from a single player game. It told its story, kept its runtime compact to make sure it didn’t overstay its welcome, and added a few bits of DLC if you wanted more. Most importantly, it lets you move on to your next game. That’s more of a rarity these days that gamers crave.
At the end of the day, we all love video games and want to see them thrive. What a lot of the suggestions above boil down to is we need creative-minded and passion-driven people to have more control over the industry. A bunch of suits that have never picked up a controller in their life are doing their best to wrangle all the money out of us as possible. Our current trajectory may look bleak, but there’s always a chance to make the future brighter.