Survey Uncovers Average Game Dev Salaries for 2011

Survey Uncovers Average Game Dev Salaries for 2011

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While industry paychecks haven't grown much since 2010, they're still twice as high as the National Average Wage.

For the twelfth year in a row, the UBM TechWeb Game Network conducted its annual Game Developer Video Game Industry Salary Survey, in which it polled over 4,000 professionals from the United States, Canada, and Europe to compile mean industry salaries by function. The poll found the average 2011 developer salary to be $81,192/year, barely higher than last year's $80,817/year. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the business and legal teams pulled the mean higher, making an average of $102,160/year, while QA testers pulled it lower, averaging just $47,910/year.

Here are the final results per category:

Business/Legal - $102,160
Programmers - $92,962
Producers - $85,687
Audio - $83,182
Artists and Animators - $75,780
Designers/writers - $73,386
QA testers - $47,910

Like all worthwhile studies, collected data was required to fall within specific parameters to be counted. For example, anyone making more than $202,500/year was excluded from final results, as was anyone reporting less than $10,000/year. That protected results from unnaturally skewing due to special cases like Notch, as well as people like your next door neighbor's ten-year-old kid who just designed his first Mario clone for free release on his blog.

But speaking of the indies, TechWeb's study also produced some interesting data regarding independent development, showing the average individual's annual income at $23,549 and the average team's at $38,239. Both of these numbers dwarf last year's results, which showed only $11,379 and $26,780 respectively.

"Game developers this year showed the stability of the industry in the U.S., and the shaky promise of development in the U.K., as salaries fell almost across the board there," said Brandon Sheffield, editor-in-chief of Game Developer magazine. "Most interestingly, we noted that while indies make far less money than traditional salaried developers, they tend to be happier - and their income is growing rapidly as well. Do all these things spell a change for the industry? They may very well be. But above all, we just hope people can continue to be happy and successful in this industry we all love!"

Sheffield is right about the loving, at least according to his data. 65% of industry professionals said they were either "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with their career path, 34% thought there were more job openings in the industry than before, and 54% felt there were more opportunities for developers. All in all, it seems as though people in the industry are happy and well-paid. In fact, there may have never been a better time than now to polish up your resume and knock on the door.

Source: UBM TechWeb

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Shhh, Dont say things like that. It screws with the credibility of the imagry portrayed that are made that game developers are slavishly working starving artists who are constantly having their lifes work stolen from them and prohibited from making a profit on their labor.

In all fairness, part of the reason that figure is as high as it is relates to the long hours these guys and girls put into their job being basically a job requirement. They get compensated in salary knowing that when they sign up for the job they will basically be living there.

Anyway, its good to see actual figures that represent that the industry is not in this dire painting that people try to portray it as. These guys work hard, do great work (most of the time) and get properly compensated for it. That is how it SHOULD be.

Mike Kayatta:
While industry paychecks haven't grown much since 2010, they're still twice as high as the National Average Wage.

Game designer: "Suddenly I have an opinion about the capital gains tax"

If developers earn that much on average then they need to shut the fuck up about how they don't earn enough money due to lost sales with piracy and used games. If can survive earning pretty much four times less than the average QA tester, then I'm pretty sure most developers aren't exactly hurting for cash.

They deserve that much considering how much of their lives is funneled into crunch time. Its insane how many hours a week they pump into a game near the end of the cycle.

GiantRaven:
If developers earn that much on average then they need to shut the fuck up about how they don't earn enough money due to lost sales with piracy and used games. If can survive earning pretty much four times less than the average QA tester, then I'm pretty sure most developers aren't exactly hurting for cash.

Developers =/= Employees

Employees all get paid irregardless of used game sales or piracy. Not that I disagree with your point of how they need to shut up about piracy or used games sales, just wanted to point that out

*obama face*

'not bad'

GiantRaven:
If developers earn that much on average then they need to shut the fuck up about how they don't earn enough money due to lost sales with piracy and used games. If can survive earning pretty much four times less than the average QA tester, then I'm pretty sure most developers aren't exactly hurting for cash.

I'm an artist (at a pretty great studio), and I make less than the "average" QA tester. In fact, I make more money off my TF2 hats than I do my actual job. I'm sure that different regions like California skew the stats a bit, but every year this is a bit depressing v: Especially considering my student loans were originally in the $90k range.

You also have to remember, this also factors in years of experience and leads/directors, that has to bring up the average quite a bit too.

This can't be right. Either something is way off here, or game developers are the biggest bunch of petulant whiners in the world. When you're making a 75k+ salary, you don't get to whine about overtime. Whining pass revoked.

Yeah, but they work damn hard. Unless they're director of innovation at activision. *snark snark*

EDIT:

ResonanceGames:
This can't be right. Either something is way off here, or game developers are the biggest bunch of petulant whiners in the world. When you're making a 75k+ salary, you don't get to whine about overtime. Whining pass revoked.

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. I can have the biggest, best-furnished house in the world, but I think I can complain I have to slave 120 hours a week for it and don't get to see any of it. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but if game designers really do slave away and have to do it to stay in the industry, they deserve a good salary.

Nice to see the old Quabity Assuance testers making a half-decent buck.

Mike Kayatta:

Business/Legal - $102,160
Programmers - $92,962
Producers - $85,687
Audio - $83,182
Artists and Animators - $75,780
Designers/writers - $73,386
QA testers - $47,910

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That is more money than either of my parents have ever made in their life. Yes, even the QA testing. My decision to go into game/software development is looking better and better all the time. :D

Anyone noticed the pay hike from last year?

Huh, there was an article on IGN a couple days ago, saying that most QA Testers barely get more than $20,000 a year. This says that on average, they get twice that amount. I'm more inclined to believe this over IGN, because anyone with a brain can tell IGN will make up shit if it gets them views. This is important to me, considering I'd like to become a Video Game Tester. Yes, I do know it's not all happy fun time being a tester, but it's still what I'd like to do.

Akisa:
Anyone noticed the pay hike from last year?

Yeah, those last year figures look more realistic to me. This years results do seem quite a bit on the high side. Something is definitively wrong there. There's no way average salaries jump by 33% in a year.

Tiamat666:

Akisa:
Anyone noticed the pay hike from last year?

Yeah, those last year figures look more realistic to me. This years results do seem quite a bit on the high side. Something is definitively wrong there. There's no way average salaries jump by 33% in a year.

To be honest, the previous survey was done with only 298 people, and this time around it's over 4,000.

Thats still not very good compared to many computer programing jobs.

"Used games are stealing our profits" my ass!

Better than a semi-new teacher's salary.

Seems wrong to me. But apparently these are a bit high, so... I don't know.

Mike Kayatta:
While industry paychecks haven't grown much since 2010, they're still twice as high as the National Average Wage.

Twice the pay for twice the work, right? Don't think I've forgotten the crunch time horror stories, high job satisfaction or not.

qa tester in "legit" survey: $47,910/year
qa tester reality: ~$3200/year
I don't where a simple qa tester gets $48k/year but i would sure love to work there

Kind of hard to sympathize with these people when they are calling their paying customers criminals for reselling used games...

Huh well I spose they do a good job but it is debatableconsidering if they were all paid less then more could be employed reducing workload and possibly making better and bigger games due to a larger capability to produce. Seriously they do put in overtime but not as much as is made out in this forum and not anymore than other industries creative and other.

 

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