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Posted August 8, 2023

Key Takeaways from the 2023 Gaming Experience Survey Report

Learn the key takeaways and insights from our survey of hundreds of game developers and gamers to gauge how game developers feel about new releases, how feedback impacts them, and the effectiveness of existing feedback loops.


We're excited to share the 2023 Gaming Experience Survey Report with our readers! To better understand the challenges facing gamedevs today, Sauce Labs recently surveyed 150 full- and part-time game developers in the U.S. and 500 U.S.-based gamers to gauge how game developers feel about new releases, how feedback impacts them, and the effectiveness of existing feedback loops.

Most software enables users to achieve tasks or is otherwise used as a tool. Users can put up with an inelegant UI if the software helps them file their taxes on time. But with video games, the software experience is the product, and the bar for quality is much higher, increasing pressure, expectations, and emotions.

Game releases like Battlefield 2042 proved that even AAA games can launch with Grade-A glitches—which damage a brand's reputation. At the same time, game launches like Fallout76 and Cyberpunk 2077 show sub-optimal releases aren’t always game-over—but the effort to save them can feel like it.  This survey explores how developers can break this negative cycle and meet both gamer and corporate expectations. 

Some of the key takeaways from our survey: 

The feedback loop is broken but can be repaired

The only way to create harmony between gamers and developers is to create a more open channel of communication. 71% of developers say they most need feedback about performance, such as the smoothness of the game mechanics and playability. 

However, the existing feedback loop doesn’t lend itself to steady, ongoing improvements. Per the survey: 

  • 55% of developers say insufficient details or lack of context to be actionable is the top challenge they face in the feedback pipeline

    • 45% of developers said not enough users are willing to spend the time to draft and submit a manual report is the second biggest challenge they face 

  • 44% of developers find it challenging to organize and triage feedback when it comes to beta testing 

    • Other top challenges with beta testing: difficulty finding experienced testers and getting feedback promptly

Once the feedback loop is repaired, there’s a chance to win back gamers. 67% of gamers jump back into a buggy game after some time, with 51% citing a significant update or downloadable content (DLC) worth checking out.

Impact on mental health

While the pressure on developers is increasing, gamers are getting louder about their negative experiences with unfinished or buggy games, often taking to social media. According to the data, game developers are feeling the wrath, and it’s affecting their mental well-being: 

Source: The 2023 Gaming Experience Report by Sauce Labs
  • 48% of developers have felt threatened or bullied online because of a game they’ve worked on.

  • 45% of developers who experience this online bullying often feel depression or disappointment, while others report stress and a negative impact on their physical and mental health.

  • Nearly one in five developers have even feared for their physical safety due to online threats.

The stakes are getting higher for developers

The gaming industry is continuing to grow and with it so does the pressure to deliver game releases within unrealistic timelines that don’t account for proper feedback cycles, risking future profits: 

  • 61% of developers say they have released a game under pressure before it’s fully debugged or ready 

  • Nearly three quarters of gamers (74%) said they avoid buying games from a developer who previously released a buggy game 

  • 33% of gamers have requested a refund of a game they considered broken or glitchy

Furthermore, the growing shift to movie gaming has added even more stress, with nearly four in five developers (79%) saying the pressure to release unfinished or buggy games has increased over the last five years. 

Michael Selvidge
Senior Director, Communications at Sauce Labs
Aug 8, 2023
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