If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Game dev salaries drop

Survey finds average US developer pay slipped slightly in 2013; 14% of respondents had been laid off that year

Gamasutra has released the results of its annual Game Developers Survey, and 2013 was a bit of a down year for the industry. The average game developer salary in the US for the year was $83,060, down a little less than 2 percent from 2012's average of $84,337.

Even with the slide, US developers were still better compensated than their counterparts around the world. The average Canadian developer salary was the equivalent of $71,445 US dollars (up 9 percent year-over-year), while European developer pay averaged out to $46,232 (flat). The survey sample included 1,246 respondents from the US, 292 from Canada, and 573 from Europe.

The survey also broke down pay by discipline. Developers in business or management positions received the most compensation in the US, bringing in $101,572 on average. As for the more hands-on development fields, full-time audio professionals ($95,682) and programmers ($93,251) were the next best compensated. However, the organizers of the survey acknowledged they had a relatively small sample set of audio professionals because many positions in that field are held on a contract basis, leading their salary results to be more easily skewed.

QA was the worst paying field around the world, with each position averaging $54,833 in the US. The next lowest paying field in all three regions was game design, with US designers bringing in an average of $73,864. A portion of the survey was also directed at indie developers, where 57 percent of respondents said they made less than $500 from game sales over the year. On the other end of the spectrum, 2 percent of indie developers reported making more than $200,000 from game sales (as opposed to income from contract work, crowdfunding, grants, and so on).

Looking at areas beyond compensation, the survey found 14 percent of developers reported being laid off at some point in 2013, up from 12 percent in 2012. Of those, 59 percent eventually found a new full-time job in the field. About 22 percent went into consulting, while 16 percent went into indie development.

The slightly down results of the survey line up with developer attitudes on the industry as a whole. When presented with a statement that the game industry "is still a great place to work," only 19 percent of people strongly agreed, down from 24 percent the year before. Some 45 percent said they agreed with the statement while 3 percent strongly disagreed with it. Both of those numbers were flat year-over-year, so that missing 5 percent was shared between those who were neutral on the sentiment or disagreed with it.

Related topics
Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.