Most Desirable Game Developer in 2016

This year the IGDA again asked which developer or publisher people in the game industry would most like to work for.  The question was asked to 1186 respondents in the 2016 Developer Satisfaction Survey, 427 of whom responded with valid answers. In total, 123 unique responses were gathered, 68 of which were only mentioned once. You can find the complete list below.

For the third year in a row, Valve came out on top, with 12% of the vote (50 votes). They were followed closely by Blizzard Entertainment with 44 votes. BioWare and 'My own company' tied for 3rd spot with 23 votes each.

Eyeing the podium were Bethesda and Nintendo who tied for 4th with 18 votes, followed by Ubisoft (17 votes), Naughty Dog (16 votes), Riot Games (14 votes), and Double Fine Productions (10 votes).

Compared to the previous lists (see full posts below), Valve, Blizzard, BioWare and 'my own company' have consistently maintained top 5 spots. Nintendo and Bethseda are new to the top 5 while Ubisoft returns after dropping out of the top 5 last year. Riot Games did not maintain its top 5 spot in 2016, but was a close 7th.

As in previous years, for the purpose of this list different geographical studios for a company are compiled under the main parent company label (Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Halifax both counted as Ubisoft). 

Not included in the list below are the 5 people who said that they didn't want to work for any development studios or publishers, the 4 people who said they wanted to work at the current studio, and the person who wanted to work directly for Yasumi Matsuno. 

Ranking Response Votes Valid Percent
1 Valve 50 11.7
2 Blizzard 44 10.3
3 BioWare & 'My own company' 23 5.4
4 Bethesda & Nintendo 18 4.2
5 Ubisoft 17 4.0
6 Naughty Dog 16 3.8
7 Riot Games 14 3.3
8 Double Fine Productions 10 2.3
9 Bungie & Insomniac 8 1.9
10 CD Projekt Red & Electronic Arts 7 1.6
11 Firaxis 6 1.4
12 Square Enix & DICE & Obsidian Entertainment & Supercell & Microsoft 5 1.2
13 NC Games & Epic Games 4 0.9
14 Telltale & Rockstar & Sony & Fullbright & Eidos Montreal & Devolver Digital & CCP Games 3 0.7
15 That Game Company & Supergiant & Tripwire Interactive & Playstation & Paradox Interactive & Media Molecule & Google & Funomera & Disney Interactive & Colossal Order & Capcom & Atlus & Activision & Failbetter Games 2 0.5
16 Amazon & Amplitude Studios & Arkanem & Arrowhead Game Studios & Avalanche Software & Beamdog & Campo Santo & Criterion Games & Drinkbox Studios & Etermax & Facepunch Studios & Fire Monkeys & Game Freak & Game Trust & Gearbox & Flu & Good Old Games & Grasshopper Manufacture & GREE & Guerrilla Games & Harebrained Schemes & Idea Factory & ILMxlab & Inkle Studios & inXile Entertainment & Ion Game Design & Iron Galaxy Games & King & Konami & Lazy Eight Studios & Lurtis Rules & Mighty Games & NetherRealm Studios & Next Level Games & Oculus & Otherside & Panic Button LLC & Pieces Interactive & Piranja Bytes & Playdek & Popcap & Rare Ltd & Raw Fury & Ready at Dawn Studios & Red Thread Games & Remedy & Robot Entertainment & Rocket Games & Rocksteady & Sierra Entertainment & Take Two Interactive & The Chinese Room & The Void & Theckla Inc & TinyBuild & Toca Boca & Trion Worlds & Two Bit Circus & Vanillaware & Volition & Wargaming & Wayforward & XSEED & Zynga 1 0.2

Most Desirable Video Game Employer in 2015

This year the 2015 IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey again asked which developer or publisher people in the game industry would most like to work for.  The question was asked to 2928 respondents in the 2015 Developer Satisfaction Survey, 996 of whom responded with valid answers. In total, 170 unique responses were gathered, 96 of which were only mentioned once. You can find a complete list below.

Last year, Valve came out on top, with just over 12% of respondents indicating that this is the company they would most like to work for. “My own company” came in close second with 11.8% of the vote. These responses were followed (not so closely) by Blizzard (5.3%), Bioware (4.5%) and Ubisoft (4.4%). The full report on this data can be found below.

This year the top five were similar — only one company was replaced — but there was some notable rank-shuffling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Valve came out on top again this year, garnering 13.4% of the vote — that’s slightly over 1% more than last year. This count for Valve includes two respondents who said 'Steam' and one who named Gabe Newell. But this year professionals are less eager to work for themselves: only 4.7% of respondents indicated that they would most like to work for their own company. This is more than a 50% decrease in responses from last year, although the response did still make the top five, coming in at number five. Bioware again made the top five, ranking at number four with 5.3% of the vote. Ubisoft dropped to number 8 and was replaced by Riot Games (6.4%), which came in at number 3. This is almost a four-fold increase for Riot Games, who came in at number 13 last year with only 1.7% of respondents indicating they’d like to work there.

Activision Blizzard again made the top five, coming in at number 2, but similar to last year, most respondents indicated that they would like to work specifically for Blizzard. In fact, of the 8.2% of respondents who mentioned Activision Blizzard, 92.5% said Blizzard as opposed to Activision Blizzard or Activision. When considered as separate entities, Blizzard ranks at number 2, and Activision and Activision Blizzard both received the same number of votes, ultimately ranking at number 26.

Similarly to the Activsion Blizzard conglomerate, if Take 2 is combined with Rockstar and the 2K Games family, they land in the 15th most chosen spot tied with Electronic Arts.  Otherwise Rockstar is 18th, 2K Games is tied for 28th and Take 2 is tied for 29th.

Often respondents specified a specific studio location – for instance Ubisoft Montreal or Rockstar San Diego.  Though we recognize that different studios can have their own culture and practices, for the simplicity of this list, in all cases these were combined under the main parent company label.

Some respondents didn’t mention a company name at all. Instead, they gave us some insight into what qualities they would like the company they work for to have:

“In the same state where my sweetheart lives”

“Studio location is more important at this stage in my life. There are lots of studios that appear good from the outside.”

“Small to middle-sized company”

Other respondents (1.4%) said they are happy at their current employer but this data could be misleading and under-reported. Some respondents might have named the company they currently work for, but not indicated that they already work there. There were also respondents who indicated that they would work for any company (1.1%) and others indicated they’d rather not work in the game industry at all (1%). A few people (0.3%) weren’t sure who they would like to work for, but most respondents had a company in mind. 

Ranking Response Frequency Valid Percent
1 Valve 134 13.4
2 Blizzard 75 7.5
3 Riot Games 63 6.3
4 Bioware 52 5.2
5 My own studio 47 4.7
6 Nintendo 45 4.5
7 Bethesda Softworks 36 3.6
8 Ubisoft 32 3.2
9 Naughty Dog 25 2.5
10 Double Fine Productions 24 2.4
11 Bungie 21 2.1
11 Obsidian Entertainment 21 2.1
12 Sony 19 1.9
13 TT Games Group 18 1.8
14 Square Enix 17 1.7
15 Electronic Arts 16 1.6
16 Microsoft 15 1.5
17 My current employer 14 1.4
17 Paradox Interactive 14 1.4
18 Rockstar Games 13 1.3
19 Anyone 11 1.1
20 None of them 10 1.0
21 Insomniac Games 9 0.9
22 ArenaNet 8 0.8
22 Epic Games 8 0.8
23 Firaxis Games 7 0.7
23 From Software 7 0.7
23 Thatgamecompany 7 0.7
24 CD Projekt Capital Group 6 0.6
24 An independent company 6 0.6
24 Stardock 6 0.6
24 Supergiant Games 6 0.6
25 CCP Games 5 0.5
25 Gearbox Studios 5 0.5
25 Konami 5 0.5
26 Capcom 4 0.4
26 Cloud Imperium Games 4 0.4
26 Retro Studios 4 0.4
27 Activision 3 0.3
27 Activision Blizzard 3 0.3
27 Atlus 3 0.3
27 Harmonix 3 0.3 27
27 Inxile Entertainment 3 0.3
27 Magic Leap 3 0.3
27 Not sure 3 0.3
27 Platinum Games 3 0.3
27 Small to middle sized company 3 0.3
27 Supercell 3 0.3
27 Zynga 3 0.3
28 2K Family 2 0.2
28 Arkane Studios 2 0.2
28 Bandai 2 0.2
28 Chillingo 2 0.2
28 Crytek 2 0.2
28 Devolver Digital 2 0.2
28 Drinkbox Studios 2 0.2
28 Eidos 2 0.2
28 Failbetter Games 2 0.2
28 Grinding Gear Games 2 0.2
28 Minority Media 2 0.2
28 Mojang 2 0.2
28 Motiga 2 0.2
28 Oculus 2 0.2
28 Olde Skuul 2 0.2
28 Piranha Games 2 0.2
28 Popcap 2 0.2
28 Rocksteady 2 0.2
28 Runic Games 2 0.2
28 Running with Scissors 2 0.2
28 Sega 2 0.2
28 Sucker Punch 2 0.2
28 Turtlerock Studios 2 0.2
28 Wargaming 2 0.2
28 Warhorse Studio 2 0.2
28 Zenimax Media 2 0.2
29 343 Industries 1 0.1
29 Amazon 1 0.1
29 Apistudios 1 0.1
29 Apple 1 0.1
29 Arrowhead 1 0.1
29 Autobotika 1 0.1
29 Avalanche 1 0.1
29 Behaviour Interactive 1 0.1
29 Bally Tech 1 0.1
29 Black Gate Games 1 0.1
29 Bohemia Interactive 1 0.1
29 Bugbear Entertainment 1 0.1
29 Campo Santo 1 0.1
29 Capybara Games 1 0.1
29 Compulsion 1 0.1
29 Crystal Dynamics 1 0.1
29 Daedalic 1 0.1
29 Deep Silver Volition 1 0.1
29 Department of Education 1 0.1
29 Descendent Studios 1 0.1
29 Dice 1 0.1
29 Digital Extremes 1 0.1
29 Disney 1 0.1
29 Elephant Mouse 1 0.1
29 Eleven Bit Studios 1 0.1
29 Ensemble Studios 1 0.1
29 Fingersoft 1 0.1
29 Forge 1 0.1
29 Fullbright 1 0.1
29 Gaijin Softworks 1 0.1
29 Games Journalism 1 0.1
29 Gaslamp Games 1 0.1
29 Glasslab 1 0.1
29 GOG 1 0.1
29 Google 1 0.1
29 Hinterlands 1 0.1
29 Id Software 1 0.1
29 IGT 1 0.1
29 Ion Game Design 1 0.1
29 Jagex 1 0.1
29 King 1 0.1
29 Kitfox Games 1 0.1
29 Klei 1 0.1
29 Kotaku Media 1 0.1
29 Larian Studios 1 0.1
29 Line 1 0.1
29 Lionhead 1 0.1
29 Marvel 1 0.1
29 Marvelous Entertainment 1 0.1
29 Microprose 1 0.1
29 Mouldy Toof Studios 1 0.1
29 Multimedia Games 1 0.1
29 Neuron Games 1 0.1
29 Nimble Bit 1 0.1
29 Nonfiction Games 1 0.1
29 Not EA 1 0.1
29 Oliver Campbell - game journalist 1 0.1
29 Origin Software 1 0.1
29 Peter Molyneux 1 0.1
29 Pieces Interactive 1 0.1
29 Pikpok 1 0.1
29 Playcorp Studios 1 0.1
29 Playdek 1 0.1
29 Postmortem Studios 1 0.1
29 Ravensoft 1 0.1
29 Rebellion Entertainment 1 0.1
29 Red Thread Games 1 0.1
29 Relic 1 0.1
29 Rizing Games 1 0.1
29 Roblox Corporation 1 0.1
29 Robot Loves Kitty 1 0.1
29 Rooster Teeth 1 0.1
29 Serenity 1 0.1
29 Splash Damage 1 0.1
29 Studio Diasporadic 1 0.1
29 Take 2 1 0.1
29 Tale of Tales 1 0.1
29 Tamsoft 1 0.1
29 Teckla 1 0.1
29 Telltale Games 1 0.1
29 Tencent 1 0.1
29 The Astronauts 1 0.1
29 Tivola Mobile 1 0.1
29 Total 1 0.1
29 Unity 1 0.1
29 Versus Evil 1 0.1
29 Vlambeer 1 0.1
29 War Child 1 0.1
29 Yager Development 1 0.1

Most Desirable Video Game Employer 2014

A number of game-related news outlets just ran a story based on press release data from the IGDA about the most desirable employer in the video game industry.

The press release was based on data from the 2014 IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey (DSS).  The curators of gameqol.org have been extensively involved in the design, administration and analysis of this survey and can give you more detail…

The question “What developer/publisher would you most like to work for?” was asked to 2445 people and 1559 of them gave what we call a valid answer to the question – so something that was not leaving the field blank or putting in gobbledygook.  Of those, 151 people wrote in answers that were not specific companies or employers.  So people wrote things like:

  • I would love to work for any company at this point. As long as I can do art, I'm happy.
  • One that pays well and is organizationally mature
  • Any with a studio in a warm, southern location
  • Any developer/publisher who truly valued my abilities.

In this group it is important to note that 37 people said they were 'not sure', 31 said ‘none’, 11 said ‘no preference’ and 24 said they wanted to work for an indie, any indie.

So that leaves 1408 people who actually listed a company name, or said ‘my own company’ or ‘my current employer’. Of these answers there were 204 employers listed, including ‘my own company’ and ‘my current employer’.  This last one potentially muddies the data because some people might have listed the actual name of their current employer, but not indicated that it was their current employer. So... we’ll keep that category in here, but we need to interpret those numbers with care because they are likely higher than reported.  Similarly some people could have listed a company other than their own thinking they had to make a different choice.  Surveys can be a little tricky that way.

You can see the whole list at the bottom of this post.  Of those 204 companies, 113 of them were mentioned by only one person.

As reported in the news, Valve comes out on top with 170 people ‘voting’ for it.  This represents 12.07% of the valid sample of company responses.  What is interesting and not apparent in the raw rankings is that “My own company” comes in at a very close second with 166 responses or 11.79% of the valid sample.

It is a quite a large step down from there to the third ranked company Blizzard which has 5.26% of the responses.  Though the press release grouped Activision with Blizzard in the news report,  game developers listed Blizzard and Activision separately.  So many of you were right when you mused in your comments to the news pieces that it was the Blizzard component that put Activision Blizzard in the third ranked slot.  On its own, Activision came in at number 18, representing 0.85% of the company responses sample.  Added to Blizzard the percent is 6.11% and still 3rd place.

Another important piece of information that is similar to this Activision and Blizzard distinction is that many developers specified a particular studio or studio location when they listed large developer-publishers like EA, Rockstar, and Ubisoft.  For the chart you see here and for the IGDA press release these were grouped together, but it is interesting and informative that developers make distinctions within these conglomerates.  These distinctions could be based on a host of factors such as the games made at that particular studio, the particular management or working conditions or culture of particular studios, other ‘star’ developers who might be working there, or the geographical location.  This is particularly noteworthy given the many mergers and acquisitions and the many spin-offs that occur in the game industry.  Legacy seems to matter.

For those looking for their company, here’s the full list of 204 with number of responses and valid percent for each in addition to the raw ranking:

What developer/publisher would you most like to work for?

Ranking Response Frequency Valid Percent
1 Valve 170 12.07
2 My own 166 11.79
3 Blizzard 74 5.26
4 Bioware 63 4.47
5 Ubisoft 62 4.40
6 Current employer 56 3.98
7 Nintendo 55 3.91
8 Naughty Dog 52 3.69
9 Double Fine 43 3.05
10 Bethesda Game Studios 41 2.91
11 Sony 37 2.63
12 EA 33 2.34
13 Riot Games 24 1.70
13 Square Enix 24 1.70
14 Microsoft 22 1.56
14 Thatgamecompany 22 1.56
15 Rockstar Games 17 1.21
15 Telltale Games 17 1.21
16 Bungie Studios 15 1.07
17 Firaxis Games 14 0.99
17 Obsidian Entertainment 14 0.99
18 Activision 12 0.85
19 DICE 10 0.71
20 Disney 9 0.64
20 Insomniac Games 9 0.64
20 Supercell 9 0.64
21 ArenaNet 8 0.57
21 Eidos 8 0.57
21 Epic Games 8 0.57
21 Google 8 0.57
21 Remedy Entertainment 8 0.57
22 Capcom 6 0.43
22 CD Projekt RED 6 0.43
22 Kojima Productions 6 0.43
22 Mojang 6 0.43
22 Rovio 6 0.43
22 Zenimax Online Studios 6 0.43
23 Atlus 5 0.36
23 Gearbox 5 0.36
23 Paradox 5 0.36
23 Popcap 5 0.36
23 Unity 5 0.36
24 Cabybara 4 0.28
24 Konami 4 0.28
24 Oculus VR 4 0.28
24 Platinum Games Inc. 4 0.28
24 Quantic Dream 4 0.28
24 Retro Studios 4 0.28
24 Vlambeer 4 0.28
24 Wargaming.net 4 0.28
25 2K Games 3 0.21
25 Crowd Control Productions 3 0.21
25 Crystal Dynamics 3 0.21
25 Facebook 3 0.21
25 FULLBRIGHT CO 3 0.21
25 Funcom 3 0.21
25 Hello Games 3 0.21
25 Media Molecule 3 0.21
25 Relic Entertainment 3 0.21
25 Rocksteady Studios 3 0.21
25 Zynga 3 0.21
26 343 Industries 2 0.14
26 Arkane Studios 2 0.14
26 Avalanche Studios 2 0.14
26 Campo Santo 2 0.14
26 Carbine 2 0.14
26 Code Masters 2 0.14
26 Cyan Worlds 2 0.14
26 From Software 2 0.14
26 Funomena 2 0.14
26 Game Freak 2 0.14
26 Gaslamp Games 2 0.14
26 Grasshopper Manufacture 2 0.14
26 Guerilla Games 2 0.14
26 Hibernum 2 0.14
26 inXile 2 0.14
26 King 2 0.14
26 Lucasarts 2 0.14
26 Next Level Games 2 0.14
26 Portalarium 2 0.14
26 Respawn 2 0.14
26 Robot Entertainment 2 0.14
26 Supergiant Games 2 0.14
26 Take 2 Interactive 2 0.14
26 Tale Worlds Entertainment 2 0.14
26 Tecmo Koei 2 0.14
26 Traveller's Tales / TT Games 2 0.14
26 Volition 2 0.14
26 Warner 2 0.14
26 WB Games 2 0.14
27 3d realms 1 0.07
27 42 Entertainment 1 0.07
27 Adobe 1 0.07
27 Altitude Games 1 0.07
27 Amazon 1 0.07
27 Apple 1 0.07
27 B-TOWN GURU SUPREME 1 0.07
27 BandaiNamco 1 0.07
27 Blackbird interactive 1 0.07
27 Blue Tea 1 0.07
27 Boomlagoon 1 0.07
27 Bugbear Entertainment 1 0.07
27 Certain Affinity 1 0.07
27 Chillingo 1 0.07
27 Cloud Imperium Games 1 0.07
27 Coca Cola 1 0.07
27 Comcept 1 0.07
27 Creative Assembly 1 0.07
27 Cryptic 1 0.07
27 Daedalic Entertainment 1 0.07
27 Deck 13 1 0.07
27 Devolver Digital 1 0.07
27 DF Games 1 0.07
27 Digital Extremes 1 0.07
27 Digital Gamecraft 1 0.07
27 Digital Leisure 1 0.07
27 Disruptor Beam 1 0.07
27 Doll Divine 1 0.07
27 Elephant Mouse LLC 1 0.07
27 Firehose Games 1 0.07
27 Flying Mollusk 1 0.07
27 Frozenbyte 1 0.07
27 Game Loft 1 0.07
27 Gameforge 1 0.07
27 Goblinworks 1 0.07
27 Grinding Gear Games 1 0.07
27 Hapa Games 1 0.07
27 Harmonix 1 0.07
27 Hi Rez studio 1 0.07
27 HopeLab 1 0.07
27 Ice Pick Lodge 1 0.07
27 IGN 1 0.07
27 Inti Creates 1 0.07
27 Jagex 1 0.07
27 Jonathan Blow 1 0.07
27 JUDOBABY INC. 1 0.07
27 Kabam 1 0.07
27 Kingsisle 1 0.07
27 Klei Entertainment 1 0.07
27 Level 5 1 0.07
27 Linden Lab 1 0.07
27 Ludia 1 0.07
27 Ludosity 1 0.07
27 Magic Leap 1 0.07
27 McFunkypants 1 0.07
27 Might and Delight 1 0.07
27 Minori 1 0.07
27 Minority Media 1 0.07
27 Mobile publishers 1 0.07
27 Morphadox Inc. 1 0.07
27 NC Soft 1 0.07
27 NaturalMotion 1 0.07
27 Naughty Fox 1 0.07
27 New World Psychobyte Entertainment 1 0.07
27 Ninja Theory 1 0.07
27 Nix Hydra 1 0.07
27 Number None 1 0.07
27 ObSkewer Games 1 0.07
27 Olde Skuul 1 0.07
27 Over Toast 1 0.07
27 Pixel Federation 1 0.07
27 Planet Forge Games 1 0.07
27 PlayFirst 1 0.07
27 Puzzles by Joe 1 0.07
27 RAD Game Tools 1 0.07
27 Rare 1 0.07
27 Red Hook Studio 1 0.07
27 Red Thread Games 1 0.07
27 relevant games 1 0.07
27 RMM Studios 1 0.07
27 Salsa Bear Studios 1 0.07
27 Schell Games 1 0.07
27 Secretnewco 1 0.07
27 Sega 1 0.07
27 ShilambGames 1 0.07
27 sn system 1 0.07
27 Socialspiel 1 0.07
27 Space Dust Studios 1 0.07
27 Space Monkeys Down 1 0.07
27 Spacetime Studios 1 0.07
27 Sports Mogule Inc. 1 0.07
27 Starlight Runner Entertainment 1 0.07
27 Starbreeze Studios 1 0.07
27 Stunlock Studios 1 0.07
27 Suckerpunch 1 0.07
27 Technical Illusions 1 0.07
27 Tencent 1 0.07
27 The Chinese Room 1 0.07
27 The creative assembly 1 0.07
27 The Mixah Game Studio 1 0.07
27 The Workshop Entertainment 1 0.07
27 THQ 1 0.07
27 ThreeRings 1 0.07
27 Tripwire Interactive 1 0.07
27 Turn 10 1 0.07
27 Turtle Rock Studios 1 0.07
27 Undead Labs 1 0.07
27 Unreral 1 0.07
27 Virtual Toys 1 0.07
27 VMC QA Studio 1 0.07
27 Wild Tangent 1 0.07
27 Wizards of the Coast 1 0.07
27 Wooga 1 0.07
27 Zombie 1 0.07
204 TOTAL 1408 100.00

2004 IGDA Quality of Life Survey

As excerpted from the 2004 IGDA Whitepaper on Quality of Life:

The 90-page "Quality of Life in the Game Industry: Challenges and Best Practices" white paper was prepared by the IGDA's Quality of Life Committee, representing a wide range of game development professions and companies.

The white paper discusses the problems and consequences developers face when trying to maintain a career in the industry and the solutions for establishing a better work/life balance.

The white paper is partly based on the results of the "Quality of Life Survey" commissioned by the IGDA in early 2004, which garnered nearly one thousand responses from developers. The survey examined developers' attitudes toward work, their internal pressures (salary, long hours, job instability), external pressures (family and relationships), inadequate staffing and work organization problems. Some of the alarming findings from the survey include:

  • 34.3% of developers expect to leave the industry within 5 years, and 51.2% within 10 years.
  • Only 3.4% said that their coworkers averaged 10 or more years of experience.
  • Crunch time is omnipresent, during which respondents work 65 to 80 hours a week (35.2%). The average crunch work week exceeds 80 hours (13%). Overtime is often uncompensated (46.8%).
  • 44% of developers claim they could use more people or special skills on their projects.
  • Spouses are likely to respond that "You work too much..." (61.5%); "You are always stressed out." (43.5%); "You don't make enough money." (35.6%).
  • Contrary to expectations, more people said that games were only one of many career options for them (34%) than said games were their only choice (32%).

The IGDA white paper explains how studios can adopt best practices to help alleviate some of the stress and allow for a more balanced life:

  • Family friendly practices
  • A conscious effort to minimize overtime
  • Better communication between management and developers
  • Better contracts between individuals, studios and publishers
  • Better planning and budgeting
  • Better human resource management

DOWNLOAD THE FULL 2004 IGDA WHITEPAPER HERE