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Game Industry Salary Survey shows indie salaries doubled in 2011

2011 was the rise of the independent developer

Game Developer magazine has announced the results of its annual Video Game Industry Salary Survey, covering the fiscal year ended on December 31, 2011. Results gathered from 4,000 respondents show that the average salary across the games industry was $81,192, up slightly from $80,817 in 2010. Business/Legal remained the highest paid discipline with an average salary of $102,160, while Quality Assurance Testers had the lowest with $47,910.

2011 saw a number of veteran developers leave their current positions for the risky adventure of independent development. Indie developers saw big gains this year, with individual indies making an average of $23,549, more than double the average of $11,379 in 2010. Indie teams averaged $38,239, way up from $11,459 the previous year.

"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!"

65 percent of developers felt "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with their careers, up 4 percent from 2010. 34 percent believe there are more jobs in the industry than before, up 5 percent from last year.

The full breakdown of U.S. salary averages by discipline is below:

- 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

The full report will be in the April issue of Game Developer magazine, published by UBM TechWeb Game Network.

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Mike Williams avatar
Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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