On the issue of external versus internal promotions, why do you think game developers (and many other kinds of companies in general) are so reluctant to promote an internal person they know but hand it out freely to some outsider they don’t?

There are some various theories on this floating around and they seem like they could be reasonable, but I am genuinely not sure.

Theory A: Hiring Entry Level is more of a gamble

When you promote someone, you leave a lower-level position empty that needs filling. Hiring for entry level is often a much bigger gamble than hiring mid- or senior-level with a proven track record and work history, and it takes significantly longer to see whether the gamble on an entry level hire pays off.

Theory B: Promoting internally means two (or more) employees need training, instead of one

When you promote someone internally, they will probably need some training and ramp-up time for their new responsibilities. The new person hired to replace the promoted dev will also need ramp up time. This can take longer and can cost significant overall productivity, and that's not a luxury a lot of studios can afford.

Theory C: Tech doesn't relax hiring standards until after internal candidates have been rejected already

One thing tech companies tends to favor when hiring (game dev being no exception) is trying to find the "perfect" candidate - someone who hits every job requirement and has experience doing it all. Unfortunately, most candidates (internal or external) won't have 100% qualifications for any given job. The unfortunate thing is that internal candidates get considered first and none pass, then external candidates get considered and none pass, and only then do the requirements get loosened. When this happens, however, all of those who were already rejected don't get re-considered. Thus we've DQed most internal candidates for being imperfect, leaving only the hunt for external candidates.

Theory D: The game industry is volatile and there's a lot of attrition

The game industry is pretty rough. Crunch, lower pay compared to other kinds of tech, rough working conditions, and historic employer volatility churns out a lot of our experienced devs. We have a huge number of entry level dev hopefuls but most of them will leave the industry within five years. Promoting internally might not be feasible because there's just too much history of promoting people only for them to quit or get laid off anyway.

Overall, I think that there's probably some complex multi-variate reason why internal promotions are generally more difficult to source than external ones. It's probably some combination of all of these and more. As always, it also varies with the studio, the leadership, the culture, and the financial situation. I wish there was a simple and easy answer but, if one exists, I sure as heck don't know it.

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