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69% of large UK games firms have bigger gender pay gap than national average

UPDATE: King and Rockstar added to database, based on businesses with 250 or more employees

The disparity between how much men and women are paid in the games industry has been exposed by the launch of a new report on UK companies.

The government has launched a Gender Pay Gap database that demands the biggest companies in the nation declare the difference among their employees' salaries - not only on average, but also across the various pay levels.

Several games firms have complied with the requirement to share the information, now mandatory for any business with 250 or more staff. Failure to comply will result in hefty fines.

GamesIndustry.biz has calculated that the mean hourly rate for women across all large UK businesses is 14.47% lower than men's. Among the 13 games firms we found in the database so far, nine showed a greater disparity in pay.

Sumo Digital reported the greatest difference, with the mean hourly rate for women 33.7% lower than for men. This means female staff earn 66p for every £1 that males earn.

Also above the average were Codemasters (22.2%), Jagex (21.7%), Traveller's Tales (20.9%), Creative Assembly (20.3%), Frontier Developments (14.9%), and Namco Bandai (14.5%).

Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Sony Interactive Entertainment were below this average, with GAME reporting the lowest disparity: the mean hourly rate for women at the retailer is only 1.9% lower than men.

The BBC has calculated that the median hourly rate for women is 18.4% lower than that of their male colleagues. Four games firms are paying their female staff much less.

Sumo Digital's median hourly rate for women is 34.5% lower than men's. Codemasters' women are paid 27.9% less, Creative Assembly's 23.3%, and Traveller's Tales women are paid 21.8% less. RuneScape developer Jagex matches the average median hourly rate of 18.4%.

Frontier Developments, Playnation, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Namco Bandai, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and GAME all have lower differences in median hourly rate, with the leading UK retailer performing best with 0% gap between genders.

It's also worth noting the database indicates how many women are among the highest and lowest paid employees at each company.

According to our calculations, women make up an average of 39.29% of the top quartile (highest earning employees) across all large UK businesses. No video games firm matches this.

The closest we could find is Namco Bandai, where 30% of the highest earning employees are women. This scales all the way down to 2.5% at Sumo, with Traveller's Tales, Codemasters, Creative Assembly, and Jagex all at less than 10%.

There are some notable absences from the database, including King, Ubisoft, Activision and Rockstar. It could be that these come just below the required headcount of 250, or that they have yet to declare their pay figures.

UPDATE: Since posting the original story yesterday, pay gap figures have emerged for two notable absentees.

As pointed out to us by Wonderstruck game artist Jess Hyland, King is actually listed under its original name MidasPlayer.com, a brand it dropped way back in 2005. According to the government database, the Candy Crush creator fares reasonably well - although there is, of course, plenty of room for improvement.

The mean hourly rate for women at King is 13.5% lower than for men, a difference that is lower than the national average of 14.47%. It means women earn 86p for every £1 a man earns.

When looking at the median hourly rate, women are paid 9.9% less than men - almost half the national average difference of 18.4%. And 33% of King's highest earning employees are female, although this is short of the UK average of 39.29%.

Rockstar North, however, has shared much more worrying figures. The mean hourly rate for women is 64% lower than for me - the largest gender pay gap of any games firm so far. This means women earn 36p for every £1 a man earns.

The difference in median hourly rate is also among the highest in the games industry at 31.8%, although this is actually lower than Sumo Digital. Of the highest paid top quartile of employees at Rockstar, only 8% are women.

In a statement sent to GamesIndustry.biz, studio director Andrew Semple said: “Rockstar North is fully committed to maintaining an equal opportunity work environment, where diversity is extremely highly valued and men and women are equally paid for equal work. Like much of the interactive entertainment industry, there is gender disparity in our workforce, particularly at senior levels where our team has been with us for many years.

"We are proactively working to decrease this disparity and we look forward to seeing representation of our female colleagues continue to grow in all roles and at all levels as we actively recruit, train and encourage women to pursue career opportunities at Rockstar North and within our industry.”

Factoring in these two additions, this means 69% of large UK games firms are above the national average difference in mean hourly rate between men and women (as opposed to the 72% reported yesterday). We'll have a more comprehensive write-up on the gender pay gap in games later today.

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James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was