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What is the games industry looking forward to in 2024?

2023 has been a difficult year for the industry, one marred by layoffs and studio closures affecting thousands of developers globally.

But as the New Year approaches, it’s perhaps worth reflecting on what’s likely to help grow and lift the industry in the fact of its ongoing challenges.

With that in mind, asked publishers, developers and other games professionals what makes them optimistic about the games industry in 2024.

Danny Gray, chief executive officer, ustwo

While undoubtedly the industry has had bad news in the last twelve months in terms of layoffs, projections are looking good for next year and there’s plenty of things to be positive about. Just this month we’ve seen Baldur’s Gate 3 win Game of the Year, with a genre that nobody would have guessed could break into the mainstream. This really shows there are still surprises in what’s going to capture the imagination of mainstream players beyond huge open-world games or shooters.

We’re seeing even more companies year on year applying for awards such as the Best Place to Work Awards, in a trend that shows more companies are really taking their need for evolution seriously. For as much as the games industry gets painted with a brush of toxicity (and it’s still got a lot of work to do), I do sincerely believe we’ve turned a corner for the better. Beyond the moral necessity to be better, the skills shortages we’re seeing in the industry are causing those studios not willing to put the effort in to fall behind.

On a more personal note I’ll be taking a few days off work just to play Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth, where I’m fully expecting to have a huge smile on my face throughout. Whether it be the essential ecological messaging of a game like Terra Nil, the emotional climbing of Jusant, the staggeringly clever puzzles of Cocoon, or the beautiful nostalgia of something like Sea of Stars.

2023 has left us with every reason to believe 2024 will surprise and delight us even more.

Michał Nowakowski, chief commercial officer, CD Projekt Red

First and foremost, I’m really curious about what new technological advancements we’ll see. The rapid emergence of AI was a wonderful example (I’m in the AI optimist camp) — especially when it comes to helping developers with certain processes of game creation. It’s going to be really important to use AI wisely, to bolster peoples’ creativity and help everyone reach new heights.

As for games, there are quite a few interesting titles coming in 2024, including Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, Obsidian’s Avowed, Little Nightmares III, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, and Rise of Ronin from Team Ninja. Will 2024 be as strong as 2023 release-wise? Time will tell, but I think some of the hits of 2023 had also not been seen as such before they landed — but when they did, they rocked the boat for all the right reasons.

Richard Jolly, CEO, Splash Damage

I can’t in good faith talk about what I’m excited about without first mentioning those who lost their jobs in our industry this year.

Despite some fabulous games coming out, it’s been a challenging year for developers worldwide; sadly, the UK is no exception. So, firstly, I’m excited to see friends and peers get back into jobs quickly, we cannot afford to lose so much talent.

Secondly, I’m excited to see where procedural generation takes us. Epic continues to surprise all of us with their work on Unreal Engine 5, and we’re already seeing enormous benefits in our own games.

Finally, I’m excited about the rapidly changing working patterns across the industry. We will see more studios find success specific to their methods, whether fully remote, hybrid, or fully office-based. 2023 saw Splash Damage move to a 4-day work week, and we’ve already seen a huge boost to morale, creativity, speed of development, and the quality of relationships formed in the studio.

I’m sure 2024 will see even more studios move away from traditional working patterns and find solutions that work for them.

Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO, Women in Games

We continue to face a multitude of challenges, but beyond these on-going issues, at Women in Games we are feeling positive as we end 2023 and move into the New Year.

The number of women and allies who are part of our Individual Ambassador programme has grown, with these individuals helping Women in Games amplify our goals, initiatives and missions.

Meanwhile, our Education Ambassador programme is growing fast, highlighting that universities and other institutions are keen to provide a more diverse pipeline of talent to the industry – which will hopefully have an impact on the reported skills shortage and under-representation of women in the games industry over the next five or so years.

More generally, we are seeing increasing allyship from men, providing supportive voices to us on social media, offering help, and attending and speaking at our events.

In short, individuals being more active and impactful, educational institutions being more engaged and committed to attracting women and more allyship from men to make change happen is a good set of positives as we head into 2024.

Shum Singh, managing director and founder, Agnitio Capital

As 2023 comes to a close, there are several positive macroeconomic developments that will beneficially impact the games industry in 2024. Given the US economy’s resilience over the past year, the FED just announced that it plans to reduce interest rates three times in 2024, which sent share prices of video games stocks soaring (most companies experienced share price increases of 5-10%). This seems to be the first real indicator that market sentiment has changed from a bearish tone to a more bullish stance.

As more funds flow into publicly listed games stocks and their valuations increase, it will kickstart new investments into new titles, smaller studio acquisitions, project financing for externally developed games, as well as hiring for specific initiatives.

We would expect to see M&A and investment activity to pick up particularly in the second half of 2024.

Liz Prince, business manager, Amiqus

The response we’ve had to the launch of Empower Up platform – a joint venture between Amiqus and Ukie’s #RaiseTheGame – has underscored the fact that studios of all sizes are now taking EDI seriously, and with authenticity.

There is some great work being carried out in the UK and beyond, both by dedicated organisations and community groups, and also by individual studios and other games companies.

2023 saw more dreadful reports of abuse and harassment of women in the workplace and at industry events. However, this time the aftermath felt a little different. In the past, the initial shock and furore was soon forgotten, but after the GDC reports we saw the dialogue continuing. Brilliant people like Gina Jackson and Mick Morris have continued to talk about the issue – both at industry conferences, and more informally at networking events.

My hope is that, particularly with men like Mick highlighting issues like this, we will see a change in attitude towards women and other under-represented groups in the industry. And about time too…

George Ng, co-founder and CTO, GGWP

Looking ahead to 2024, the video game industry has a lot of reasons to be optimistic, besides the obvious highly-anticipated game launches, the first generation of games truly leveraging AI will launch, featuring enhancements like dynamic companions, personalized stories, enhanced enemies and procedurally generated levels.

We also expect an increased focus on multiplayer experiences in PvE and social/virtual realms with exciting upcoming titles like Nightingale, Stormgate, and Pax Dei, reflecting the still-growing social nature of gaming.

Additionally, regulatory developments like the Digital Services Act are poised to encourage developers to design and adopt more safety measures that will better protect players in these social experiences.

Mike Rose, founder and director, No More Robots

From my perspective, next year is going to be harder than 2023. There’s really nothing to suggest that it’s going to get easier. My prediction is way more layoffs, whole developers and publishers closing down, and just general doom and gloom.

But if I were to be optimistic: We’ll surely hear about the next Nintendo console next year, which obviously will be very exciting. I think it’s likely we’ll also start to see a ton more tiny studios popping up from the ashes of all the biggest companies going under.

Alex Nichiporchik, CEO, Tiny Build

2024 should become the year when things get back to [some] semblance of normality. We went through the pandemic, are still going through the war in Ukraine, and are now having the difficulty modifier of an industry-wide recession.

I think we all deserve a normal year for a change.

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