AfterClimate, a research and consulting enterprise “with a mission to decarbonize the games industry,“ yes this week publish the result about their “snapshot of their 2022 gaming industry network.“ Its a report that looks in detail at how most of the world’s largest video game companies are responding to the impending climate crisis. The good news is that some are doing a lot! The bad news is that some do nothing, while others don’t even publish their numbers.
Report written by Dr. Ben Abraham of AfterClimate, author of book, Digital games after climate change. Essentially, it needs a series of “net zero goals, Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) disclosures and other sustainability programs and achievements,” released by companies. video games—and the tech giants that care about video games—and rate them. They are designated into one of four categories based on their level of commitment to limit global warming to an increase of 1.5 degrees C on the pre-industrial level.
The first group, those who do the most work, are labeled as “Ambitious“. These are reported described as follows:
Each of these companies (or their parent companies) have set strong targets and provide compelling evidence of having taken steps to actively reduce emissions. There is still much work to be done to achieve these goals, but they are moving in the right direction.
These industry leaders are setting the pace and showing what kind of ambition and action is possible in the gaming industry.
Some of the companies receiving this praise are Microsoft, Ubisoft, Apple, Google, The Embracer Group, Tencent, and Riot.
Then go to the “baseline“group, described as:
This group of companies has already started to act, but not with the same speed and urgency as the companies in ambitious Coporation, group. This is the minimum acceptable standard and can still be improved.
Among the companies of this type are Sony, Activision Blizzard, Konami, Sega, and Bandai Namco. As you might have guessed by the fact that we’re already at the “minimum acceptable standard” and we’re only halfway there, what comes next isn’t going to be interesting to read.
The third group are companies that need “Catch up“.
These companies are increasingly aware of their environmental footprints, with some even taking tentative steps to reduce, but have yet to set a date for net corporate net emissions.
With decisive leadership and careful planning, these companies can quickly cross the baseline and join the ambitious team.
Companies that need to catch up are Nintendo, EA, Take-Two, Zynga, and NetEase. The fourth and final group are in the “Do not obey“bucket, bottom tier and companies really need to do better
These are underperforming people in the game industry. These businesses are facing significant risk (physical and transformational risk) from climate impacts as well as threatening their brand integrity and social license to operate in a new world. increasingly environmentally conscious world.
Disappointingly, some of these companies do not seem to consider the environmental impact of their operations at all. There is simply no reason in 2022 to skip the ESG disclosure. Stakeholders, investors and even players have begun to expect more.
Companies that score this fail include Square Enix (yes ESG does not mention eenvironment), roblox, and Nexon. It’s important to keep in mind when naming, shaming (and praising!) all of these people, that two of the biggest video game players on the market—Valve and Epic—can’t even be graded, because they publish absolutely no data or information about their climate impact, nor do they promise to address it in the future.
This last group (and the two main absentees) is by far the biggest concern, because there’s such a big gap between their actions (or lack of action) and those above them. . “My approach has always been, ‘what really needs to happen?’ Not ‘what is possible?’ because I think the situation is so urgent that we almost need to do the opposite of what needs to happen—which is immediate, deep decarbonization,“ Dr. Abraham narrated Kotaku. He continued,
The groups themselves have sprung up from the net zero days that everyone has set, and indeed the difference between the first three groups (ambitious, grassroots and catch-up) is mainly due to the goals their net zero spending. The bigger gap is between companies in the non-compliance group, because most of them haven’t even started thinking about ESG yet. Implementing a corporate culture on the journey towards net zero and sustainability is one mammoth mission, and it cannot be done overnight. It requires building support from the top to the bottom of the organization.
Dr. Abraham thinks margins are so close that many companies in the second and third quintile could take the lead next year, including Sony, which has just set a date for net emissions of equal to zero. 0 in the next decade. This is a lot harder for a company like Sony – which also manufactures millions of physical products – to achieve the goal than for some game companies that only use the software mentioned in places. else in the report.
It is important to note that what is contained in this report is only a general, overarching picture, an outdated picture (as it is based on 2021 figures), and cannot take into account the progress some companies have made since then.
An example of this is the changes Microsoft and Nintendo have made to their supply chains, which have previously been on the sidelines of most of the company’s environmental commitments. “Some positive news can be found in the agreements that the big companies enter into with any supplier (usually a slightly smaller company) that works for them,“ Dr. Abraham said. “Think like Foxconn making iPhones, or game developers creating (or working on) games for another developer—The massive amount of work in the Triple A gamedev space is done on a contract basis.”
“For example, you can get some 3D environmental artwork made by a team in China,” explains Abraham. “Thus, these supply chain policies set expectations for the standards of behavior of those companies—usually they cover basics like ‘not breaking the law,‘ ‘fair treatment of employees,‘ but increasingly we see them also being used to get these companies to measure and take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”
The researcher continued, “So Sony has a company that’s currently doing this, Nintendo has a company that’s focused on the environment (probably for Switch companies), Microsoft has a really strong company that I just heard about said the previous day does not allow companies to use purchased offsets to reach net zero. All good stuff.
Dr. Abraham says the exciting news is that such actions could have a “trickle-down” impact on the rest of the industry.. “For example, Sony’s supplier code of conduct requires companies with which Sony does business to also require their suppliers to agree to and abide by Sony’s supply chain code of conduct. So you can imagine how widespread that kind of thing could be. Who in the game industry more than two degree of separation from Sony? Not much, I would imagine! I think that’s the space to see next year, and that’s where game developers can get caught up. Because at some point, if you want to sell games on PS or Xbox, you’re going to need to be carbon neutral, otherwise there could be consequences.”
While there’s much to praise here, especially from larger companies like Microsoft, I’m also curious about the company’s responsiveness, with a report like this—especially emphasizing the efficiency of the company. someone’s performance on a particular, critically important topic—potentially damaging the company’s reputation.
“I do think there is some insecurity around these issues at some of the companies included in the Snapshot, and not just from those companies that are currently treating ESG as a joke,“ Dr. Abraham said. He added,
The explanation I’ve heard is that many companies aren’t sure what to do – they’re all in the learning process and on this journey to net zero, figuring out what it really means. I try to be fair but firm in my assessments, so I hope not everyone agrees with them, or says I don’t consider everything possible, but ultimately your loyalty I am still this planet first. I will continue to say it because it is true: we must become party members for the sake of necessity, not just for the possible. I hope the snapshot will tell the industry some of the things it didn’t know before, encourage those who need encouragement, and point out the laggards who may need to be reinforced in the view that corporate sustainability not an extra option on a rapidly growing planet. warming. Investors, game industry employees, players and the press will demand more. There are real consequences to ignoring these.
Finally, AfterClimate is encouraging more employees and companies to help shape next year’s report. And if you want to read this year’s report, It can be found herealong with links to spreadsheets containing all of the data used to create that spreadsheet.