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US games industry adds $11.7 billion to GDP - ESA

Trade group's economic impact report says gaming supports more than 220,000 jobs, average compensation tops $97,000 a year

Given President Donald Trump and the Entertainment Software Association have differing stances on a number of key policy issues facing the US, it's in the games industry trade group's interest to make sure people know just how much it adds to the economy. To that end, the ESA today released its Video Games in the 21st Century report, which determined the industry contributed a total of $11.7 billion to the US gross domestic product total in 2015.

"The interactive entertainment industry is powered by real jobs that develop the most innovative and remarkable technology and entertainment in the world," ESA president and CEO Michael Gallagher said. "These high-paying, creative careers build communities all across the US. The data we share today details a roadmap for economic growth, and the power of cultivating high-paying, technical careers in interactive entertainment."

The report noted that US game developers take home an average compensation of $97,000 per year, a figure it arrived at by taking the Game Developer Salary Survey's finding of $83,060 in average salaries for 2013 and multiplying it by the average percentage of supplemental wages (overtime pay, bonuses, etc.) received by workers in the US publishing industries (including software publishing) for that year.

The ESA also found 2,858 game company locations in the US, with publishers and developers directly employing 65,678 people. Using a US Bureau of Economic Analysis formula to determine how many people in adjacent industries benefit from the US gaming industry, the report determined some 220,332 people were directly or indirectly employed by the US games industry in 2015.

As impressive as some of those numbers are, the impact of games is still limited when compared to other similar industries. For example, the BEA's latest figures found that for 2015, the same year of the ESA's $11.7 billion GDP figure above, the motion picture and sound recording industry added more than $115 billion to the US GDP, while amusements/gambling and recreation activities added about $84 billion.

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