Sustainability firm AfterClimate has released its latest report on the gaming industry, examining the strides that companies throughout the space are making in their attempts to reduce their carbon footprints.
In total, 2022 saw game makers make a total of 81 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, 74 million tonnes of which came from just five companies, all of whom are among the largest tech and game makers in the world: Tencent, Sony, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. The remaining businesses included in the study disclosed over seven million tonnes of emissions, with AfterClimate estimating a further 14 million tonnes from companies that didn’t disclose their emissions.
Notably, the figures reveal that the games industry has a higher carbon footprint than some small countries, such as Bolivia (23 million tonnes in 2021), Finland (37 million tonnes in 2021) and Greece (57 million tonnes in 2021.)
The long road to net zero
Only four companies saw reductions in their carbon footprints in 2022 compared to 2021. Tencent led the way, with a decrease of 13.73%, followed by Apple at 11%. Nintendo saw a smaller decline with 2.95%, while Ubisoft reduced its emissions by 0.14%.
On the other hand, several leading companies saw increases in emissions over the same period. Among the top emitters, Microsoft saw a 16.5% year-on-year increase, Sony saw a 17% increase and Google saw an estimated 18% increase.
NCSoft emerged as the company with the highest recorded year-on-year increase in emissions, going up 576%. However, AfterClimate notes that this figure is likely due to a change in their methodology. Furthermore, the firm expects more and more companies to further their net zero goals over the next year.
AfterClimate states that in order to achieve net zero targets, game companies need to achieve profitability without increasing their emissions - which it notes represents a significant challenge.
In order to more accurately analyse the state of the industry, the company has announced two new metrics: emissions per $1 million revenue, and emissions per employee. By doing so, AfterClimate hopes to better track the progress made in the years ahead more accurately.
We listed several of the companies in this article as some of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2023.