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