Legal Challenges in the Games Industry in 2024

We’re now in the year 2024 after a very tumultuous previous year. The games industry lost nearly 10,500 jobs in 2023 and roughly 8,500 in 2022, according to some estimates. We were a little too correct when we commented last year that the world continues to be a relatively unpredictable place. Here are our thoughts and predictions on 2024.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to be an extremely hot topic within games and in the tech industry at large. Our prediction was that last year would be messy and indeed it was. Even just this week, SAG-AFTRA struck a deal with regards to AI voice acting licensing in video games as Hollywood continues to struggle with AI protections (having just ended a strike that results in studios now being required to pay actors and receive consent before using AI-generated versions of the actor).

Countless other lawsuits have been brewing throughout the year too as artists have rallied to protect their copyright. The FTC even hosted a roundtable to better understand this space. Everything keeps changing so rapidly that it’s hard for people to stay on top of the trends, lawmakers and normal folks alike.

While this is going on, however, we are seeing more AI generated content and AI generated content creators. Agencies and creators along with developers and pretty much everyone will need to understand, anticipate, and comply with regulations if they happen. Which leads to our prediction…

Odin prediction: Regulation will happen this year in some way, shape or form when it comes to AI. We predict that the tensions between AI and copyright owners will just get too high and the EU AI ACT will become law in 2024. Other countries, including the US, will probably follow suit shortly thereafter.

Business models may change

We may not formally be in a recession but we anticipate the funding challenges to continue in the games industry that started last year as the market contracted in some ways. We anticipate startups shuttering in Q1 and Q2 as funding continues to be difficult to secure. In the meantime, subscriptions will continue to grow as Netflix becomes a bigger contender.

To compete, we predict that the market will grow for more digestible, AAA quality experiences delivered in 5-6 hour bites rather than the 60+ hour games as Millennials continue to drive consumption but have less time. Publishers may also start to look for games with shorter development cycles to launch on PS5 and Xbox X/S as – while they feel new – the next generation is within a longer term developer cycle horizon.

Mobile games may also be affected by the shifting winds as they have fewer paths to viability as compliance becomes more difficult, which may lead to an M&A funnel for mobile as smaller developers look to acquisitions for discoverability, marketing, and compliance rather than publishing.

Last year, we anticipated that inflation would inevitably drive game prices up and we were correct. We were also correct that this may lead to game subscriptions and streaming services increasing in popularity. We still firmly recommend that businesses need to be savvy on how licensing terms and agreements function before signing documents.

If newer businesses can survive to Q3-Q4, we expect the later part of the year to be easier as the Fed may lower interest rates by then.

Odin prediction: We’ll see less funding coming through and shorter titles being funded as the world waits for news on the next console generation and businesses in this space continue to navigate fluctuating business models (namely subscriptions).

User Generated Content

User Generated Content (UGC) is still on the rise, especially as we’ve seen with Epic introducing UGC to Fortnite in 2023.

We predicted last year that they may be a big regulatory crackdown on gray areas and that has not happened yet. We think this is still coming but in the meantime, we anticipate that amateur developer markets (Roblox, UEFN, Minecraft) will further “professionalize” but will fly under the radar of many bigger players in the space. The line between UGC and small developer markets is quite blurry.

People Make Games highlighted some of the issues in 2021 but it remains to be seen how this ultimately winds up.

Odin prediction: Someone will most likely be made an example of within the UGC space.

Privacy regulations

Long overdue in the United States, 2024 may be the year we finally see a federal consumer privacy law as we see more states passing individual privacy laws at a growing rate.

We also anticipate that child privacy regulations and enforcement will increase in 2024 as will the cost of compliance burdening developers and creators whose content targets (or whose demographic includes) children.

Additionally, 2024 being an election year means that we suspect comment moderation and policies dealing with hate speed and false information may be very important this year. But as we noted last year, privacy regulation changes may not happen on a federal level given the upcoming elections.

Odin prediction: Businesses will need to be aware of changes in this space based on their own state but especially if a federal law does finally come to fruition. We anticipate that this won’t actually happen in 2024 at this rate due to the elections but it may finally come about in 2025.

Content creators & esports contraction levels off

We anticipated the growing power of creators in 2022-2023 – we’re finally seeing esports contraction start to level off, although it’s performing better internationally than domestically.

On the creator front, we’re seeing trends for this year that advertisers are finally listening to content creators on how best to integrate ads which may lead to more integrations for content creators.

We’re also seeing collaborative content becoming more of the norm. Collaborating creators need to ensure more than ever that they have adequate written agreements that clearly define the terms of these collaborations and the ensuing IP ownership.

Last year, we predicted an increase in live shows and bigger content creator events as we come back full circle toward TV-like schedules and events. We’re still steadily seeing this as advertiser money grows and creators feel the need to engage their audiences more, putting money into more spectacle style shows and events.

Additionally, we think some creators may start pushing more for long form content and more unique content instead of catering solely to algorithms.

Odin prediction: Creators may have more power in the new year but need to be extra diligent about contractual relationships with other creators as well as advertising partners.


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We still have no idea what the metaverse will look like. 2022 and 2023 showed us that this is still a very nascent and very challenging space financially thus far.

Some of our past predictions

We still stand by our past predictions (in 20202021, 2022, and also 2023!) about transmedia. This is just a very long-term prediction and we’re already seeing more video game adapations now that the strikes are over. We may also see more live action adaptations, especially with genres like anime and the success of One Piece. On that note – we expect to see more anime and manga adaptations of Chinese, Korean, and Western webcomics/webnovels on the rise.

Screen blurring is still taking place as interactive TV experiences and other games not requiring a PC or console continue to grow in popularity (especially as cloud computing expands). We’re seeing a bit of that blur as PC-focused developers often now consider how games play on Steam Deck or mobile platforms as the smaller hardware space has accelerated.

On the crypto implosion of last year, we see our prediction here on investor expectations wanting to see better financials and financing becoming more expensive coupled with inflation and the changing video game landscape.

For antitrust enforcement, this is still a very evolving space. Microsoft did successfully close on acquiring Activision in October. But it’s anyone’s guess as to what continues to happen at this point with Epic Games’ antitrust battles with other companies like Google and Apple.

Unionization continues to be a growing conversation and we were correct in our prediction of this gaining traction in 2023 as several of the industry’s biggest companies now have unions.

Have any thoughts or very strong opinions on our predictions for 2024? Let us know! We’re happy to hear different opinions on what the future holds.

Brandon J. Huffman

Brandon is the founder of Odin Law and Media. His law practice focuses on transactions and video games, digital media, entertainment and internet related issues. He serves as general counsel to the International Game Developers Association and is an active member of many bar associations and community organizations. He can be reached at brandon at odin law dot com.

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