One fifth of game developers who participated in the IGDA 2017 satisfaction survey believe that game development studios need to focus more on adding diversity into their games. According to the survey results, exactly 21% of respondents felt that “more diversity in game content” would help with future growth and success. 22% of developers felt that the industry would succeed more if advancements in game design and technology were pursued instead of diversity.
In a way, you can literally see how the two opposing philosophies play out on the market. Games that try to put diversity before gameplay design – such as Mass Effect: Andromeda or Agents of Mayhem – flopped horribly; whereas games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that focused on new ideas and advanced gameplay concepts, flourished with more than 26 million sales.
We also saw how a game like Wolfenstein 2 – desperately trying to focus on sociopolitical messaging and “diversity” – ended up selling a lot less on PC than a game like Cuphead, proving that gameplay matters more than diversity quotas. In fact, according to Steam Spy, Cuphead almost outsold Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus three-to-one.
Despite the head butting over diversity versus design, a majority of developers feel as if diversity in workplace environments are important. 81% of developers feel that diversity in the workplace is “very important”. According to the IGDA survey, it’s up from the 78% back in 2016, and 63% from back in 2015.
So it appears more and more developers feel as if having diverse people in the workplace environment is important, even though time and time again it’s been proven that diversity hires can truly crash and burn a high-profile project like Mass Effect: Andromeda. The focus should be on hiring top talent who excel at their jobs, and not attempting to meet quotas based on religion, skin color, gender or ethnicity.
A large majority of developers also feel that diversity in the gaming industry as a whole is important, with 84% feeling it’s somewhat important to have diversity in the industry, which is up from the 66% who felt it was somewhat important back in 2015.
There isn’t really any indication or explanation as to why so many developers have changed their views over the last couple of years, especially when sales have been tanking and consistently decreasing in the AAA sector for various titles (with the exception of Call of Duty of course) while studios pursue diversity quotas and Social Justice agendas.
It appears the more developers want diversity in the industry, the lower the sales are for AAA outings, as evident with the poor sales of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Alternatively, we’ve been seeing a rise in popularity among indie games, single-A titles and AA outings, with games like NieR: Automata moving 2 million copies.
Despite the sales numbers not quite lining up with the diversity agenda, Jen MacLean, interim executive director, IGDA, believes that there needs to be more done to accommodate diversity and job security…
“Combined with the lack of support for equality and diversity in the workplace, these results confirm the IGDA’s belief that the organization must act to help game developers create fulfilling, sustainable careers. A short average tenure in the industry is also a clear wakeup call for game development companies; we must do a better job of keeping talent engaged and participating in our industry.”
It appears most gamers, however, prefer quality gameplay mechanics and compelling stories, rather than a checklist of characters that occupy diversity tropes within the progressive stack.
You can learn more about the IGDA by visiting the official website.