With billions of dollars flowing into the video game industry, gaming is no longer just for kids — it’s poised to be the next generation of entertainment. Due to the market’s astonishing growth, streaming giant Netflix now sees gaming as a bigger competitor than the original video titan, HBO.
But what does all this growth mean for job seekers? According to recent data analysis from Indeed, 2019 will bring many exciting developments in the gaming industry. We’ll look at what's changed since last year’s report and where the most opportunities and interest are — both in terms of available positions and geographically, as the industry expands beyond typical tech hubs.
Let’s see what 2019 has in store!
Virtual and augmented reality gain momentum
The virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) segments of gaming — which immerse players in a simulated reality or allow them to interact with lifelike environments — are still on the rise, continuing a growth trend from last year’s report. Globally, shipments of AR and VR headsets are projected to hit record numbers in 2019. While VR/AR technologies are common in education and health care, their widespread adoption for recreational use is more recent.
In fact, on Indeed the share of job postings per million for AR and VR roles has increased by 1314.44% since 2014. During the same time period, the share of job searches for AR and VR roles increased by 951.89%. Last year (Feb 18 - Feb 19) the share of job postings per million for AR and VR roles has increased by 21.86% while, during the same time period, the share of job searches for AR and VR roles decreased by 13.48%.
In terms of augmented and virtual reality jobs, Indeed data shows the number of searches made closely aligns to the overall number of positions available, which is great news for job seekers. Interestingly, the top cities for jobs in this field have shifted since 2018, when the coasts dominated: This year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, metropolitan area emerges as the frontrunner.
Charlotte is home to the largest percentage of AR/VR job openings nationwide (9.5%), as well as the highest local concentration of these positions. In other words, there are more AR/VR jobs available in Charlotte, relative to other fields, than in other places — making it a prime city to watch.
Esports is a promising growth area
Although still relatively new to the market, esports is a booming segment, with revenues projected to top $1 billion globally in 2019. These competitive video games pit players from around the world against one another and have evolved into a full-on spectator sport; tournaments are even broadcast on traditional sports hub ESPN.
On Indeed, the share of job postings per million for esports roles has increased by 2.87% since 2014. During the same time period, the share of job searches for esports roles increased by 1289.55%. Last year (Feb 18 - Feb 19) the share of job postings per million for esports roles increased by 10.91% while, during the same time period, the share of job searches for esports roles increased by 19.27%.
There is a great deal of excitement about the explosive growth of esports, and it’s a prime time to look for opportunities. Four cities currently dominate the esports job market in the U.S.: Los Angeles, Houston, New York and San Francisco. Just under half of all esports job postings nationwide are in these metro areas, with the other 50% dispersed across the country.
It will be interesting to see if — or how — the geography of esports jobs changes over the next few years. For instance, the first dedicated esports arena in the U.S. will open in 2021; located in Philadelphia, this $50 million facility is expected to become a destination for visiting enthusiasts.
What’s more, esports viewership is projected to jump nearly 70% by 2023, indicating significant expansion in employment opportunities over the coming years to keep up with demand. While the number of searches for esports jobs currently outpaces the positions available, with interest jumping nearly 20% last year, there’s reason to believe that opportunities will soon expand, as well.
Fewer jobs for developers and designers, but new interest in other areas
Although esports, AR and VR will continue to boom in 2019, the outlook is potentially less rosy for some video game studios, as many take big risks in an attempt to keep pace with this changing technology. Multiple large studios closed — some quite unexpectedly — in 2018, and the trend continued in the first months of 2019 with several large-scale layoffs.
In terms of the numbers of open positions for game developers and designers, the good news is that they dropped only slightly since last year — approximately 3% and 4%, respectively. The bad news? Job-seeker interest far outpaces available positions, so competition is stiff. Indeed found the number of designer job postings dropped 54% in the last five years, and developer openings fell 35% in the same period, continuing the downward trend in both gaming fields. In contrast, searches for AR/VR internships are up 1,220%, showing that rising talent is looking to get a foot in the door.
This could relate to the spike in searches for other jobs in the gaming world. In a surprise twist on the recent move toward online games, searches for jobs building gaming computers had the biggest jump on the list, rising 1,777%. In other trends, searches for video game coaches jumped a whopping 530% in the last three years, and searches for game reviewers are up 406%. These might sound like fantasy jobs that allow people to get paid for their gaming hobbies, but why not love what you do?
Meanwhile, searches for game-tester positions continued to decline by nearly 45% over the last three years. Searches for game analysts and user researchers also dropped significantly: over 60% during the same period.
Looking beyond Silicon Valley
When it comes to opportunities in the gaming industry, it’s time to look past the usual suspects of Silicon Valley and even the West Coast. As the industry has expanded, new hotspots are emerging, particularly in the South. For example, gaming opportunities are so plentiful in Austin, Texas — which is now home to over 6% of all jobs for game designers and developers nationwide — that the University of Texas is launching a formal video game curriculum.
North Carolina is another emerging tech hub, and both Raleigh and Charlotte are key sites for AR/VR jobs. And Huntsville, Alabama, has the largest share of local game developer job postings on our list, joining nearby Birmingham as a growing hub for tech jobs in the region. Not only is Huntsville vastly more affordable than Silicon Valley, helping to draw job seekers looking to cut costs, but the city also boasts a highly educated workforce and has long been a mecca for science and technology jobs, which is good news for employers.
For esports job seekers, Los Angeles houses the largest percentage of positions (19% of all U.S. job postings are here). However, when it comes to the odds of actually landing a position in this segment, job seekers might be better off in Houston, which has more openings per million postings than any other city on our list.
Key takeaways for the gaming industry in 2019
By all accounts, 2019 will be an interesting year for the gaming industry. Esports and AR/VR remain prime areas to watch, with plentiful opportunities on the horizon. What’s more, we see an increasing number of opportunities available in parts of the country that previously had few, meaning job seekers no longer need to move to coastal tech hubs to pursue their dreams.
The future looks bright; stay tuned!