Being a game developer isn't all about living the rockstar lifestyle, bedding booth babes and drinking free booze served in diamond encrusted goblets. There's also the mountains of cash. Every year, Game Developer magazine takes a tally of the US industry's average wages, and according to its recent findings, life in the gaming biz is becoming more and more lucrative.
The findings from 2010 were published in the 10th annual Game Developer Salary Survey. In it, game producers and programmers topped the list of talent earners with an average salary of $88,544 and $85,733, respectively. Artists and animators were equally well compensated with an average salary of $71,071, as were designers who earned an average of $70,223, and staffers in the audio department who earned around $68,088.
Above: Can you guess who? (Hint: rhymes with Babe Dewell)
On the quality assurance side - a segment usually reserved for entry-level employees - testers were shown to have earned an average of $49,009; a dramatic rise from the $37,905 figure reported in 2009. At the other end of the company, business and legal employees pulled in the highest wages of any department with an average of $106,452.
Outside of the mainstream studios, those who considered themselves indie developers reported earnings of around $27k; roughly $6k more than in 2009 due to massive growth within the indie sector, thanks in part to rising opportunities in digital distribution.
OK, that stuff about the diamond encrusted goblets may have been an overstatement, and there are plenty of cons to working in the industry -in addition to the late nights, piles of work and zero job security, survey respondents regarded jobs in traditional studios as being largely 'frustrating' due to an increase in lay-offs and work for those who remain.
True, the highest wages don't come close to what actual rockstars or the average alcoholic reality showtrainwreck makes, but it's heartwarming to know those countless hours of playing games and buying old consoles from eBay can pay off one day. Because that's how you get into this industry, right? Right?!
Apr 28, 2011