Game Developer Salary Survey
We really need to ask for a raise.
SAN FRANCISCO – April 30, 2009 – Editors at Game Developer magazine, the leading video game industry publication, have released the results of its eighth annual Game Developer Salary Survey, calculating an average American game industry salary in 2008 of $79,000, a 7% increase from 2007’s figure of nearly $74,000.
While the recession is, anecdotally, significantly impacting the amount of jobs available in the U.S., the income of still-employed game industry professionals in 2008 continues to edge up, thanks to increased asking prices for more experienced professionals.
Highlights of specific findings per category for the survey, which is the only major publicly released analysis of salaries in the worldwide video game industry, and is available in further detail in the newly published April 2009 issue of Game Developer magazine ( http://www.gdmag.com), include:
Programming: programmers are the highest paid talent next to high-end businesspeople, with an average annual salary of $85,024. Experience pays in this role, as those with greater than six years of experience earned 26% more than the average annual salary.
Art & Animation: artists – averaging a $69,532 salary, nonetheless, 28% of art directors reported lower salaries than the previous year. But these more experienced, higher status artists also tend to earn at least 35% more than those with less experience and lower title.
Game Design: Averaging $67,379, design positions sprouted an average $3,730 over last year. As with many roles, region makes a difference, given that West Coast designers make on average $8,283 or 12% more than the rest of the game designers in the country.
Production: of all the game development disciplines, production – with a salary average overall of $82,905 – is the most welcoming to women, with 21% of the workforce made up of females – more than twice the industry average. The discipline as a whole saw a strong $4,189 bump from last year.
Quality Assurance: testers with less than three years experience make up the largest percentage of this segment – 46%. Quality assurance is the lowest paid of the game development disciplines, averaging $39,571 – almost flat to 2007 – and the majority of Q/A people – 87% - are lesser experienced. The number of female Q/A testers jumped from 6% in 2007 to 14% in 2008.
Audio: sound designers as a group earned 6% more than they did in 2007, up $4,758 on average over last year to $78,167. 74% of audio developers reported that their salaries increased over 2007. Interestingly, 48% of those in the game audio industry have been working there for 6 years or more – more than the 40% for game design, and equal to the 48% for production.
Business & Marketing: the business field as a whole remains the highest compensated group in game development - with an average salary of $102,143 - and also receives the highest amount of additional compensation. However, salaries vary significantly between individual job titles in this section, with experienced VPs and executive managers making the most of any individual section in the entire survey – at $131,085 on average and reporting at least 6 years experience.
An extended version of the “Game Developer Salary Survey” includes much more detailed U.S. regional and growth data for year-over-year results from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, plus international information from Canada and Europe. It will be of particular interest to business and HR professionals in the game industry, and is now available for purchase through Game Developer Research – more information is available at http://www.gamedevresearch.com
About Study Methodology
The survey was conducted in February of 2009 with the assistance of research firm Audience Insights. More than 3,880 responses were gathered from participants in total. The survey excluded salaries under $10,000 as well as salary figures from students and educators. The small number of reported salaries over $202,500 was excluded to prevent their high numbers from unnaturally skewing the average. The sample represented in the salary survey can be projected to the overall game developer community with a margin of error for the U.S. statistics of plus or minus 2.24% at a 95% confidence level.
About the Think Services Game Group ( www.tsgamegroup.com)
A core provider of essential information to the professional game industry, the Think Services Game Group offers market-defining content, and drives community through its award winning lineup of print, online, event and research products and services. These include Game Developer Magazine, Game Developer Research, the Webby Award-winning Gamasutra.com, GameCareerGuide.com, WorldsInMotion.biz, GameSetWatch.com, GamesOnDeck.com, SeriousGamesSource.com, FingerGaming.com, the Game Developers Conference®, the Game Developers Conference® Austin, the Game Developers Conference® Europe, the Game Developers Conference® China, the Game Developers Conference® Canada, GDC Mobile, the Game Career Seminars, the Independent Games Festival and Summit, and the Game Developers Choice Awards.
About Think Services
Think Services connects specialized communities worldwide via professional services including educational events, consulting, training, certification, membership, and innovative media. Providing comprehensive opportunities for people to learn from, network with, and inspire each other, Think Services builds strong brands and works within communities to foster a unique affinity with its products and services. The division's flagship products include the Game Developers Conference, the Webby Award-winning Gamasutra.com, Game Developer magazine, the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and HDI. Think Services is a subsidiary of United Business Media, a global media and marketing services company with a market capitalization of more than $1.6 billion. To learn more, visit www.think-services.com.
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