What Game Makers Really Earn


Kinect Development Sucks...
Sep 24, 2008

$90,000, that's about £60,000

Glad I want to be a games programmer

Atmos Duality

New member
Mar 3, 2010
No surprise. The fragging MARKETERS get the lion's share.
You got to have someone working on new ways to fool customers into buying your generic rubberstamp title...

Ok ok...that's not entirely fair, but the pay scale alone should show you where the REAL focus in the industry lies, and it isn't with the people who actually MAKE the games.

Glad to see Composer and Programmer up there though, even if they make considerably less than the spinsters and mouths/suits.


New member
May 13, 2009
These numbers seem high. Maybe they're true, and I hope they're true, but I hope these figures are medians or approximate modes, not means that could be dramatically altered by a few high-paying companies, and/or neglecting entry-level workers.


New member
Aug 3, 2009
Awesome the job I'm working towards now makes 70,000. Sounds good to me (if I can make it still have to get through art school)


New member
Jun 12, 2008
Few things I'd like to know:
- How many companies is this the average of?
- Which companies is this averaged across?


Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
Yea, that's why I wanna focus on film industry animation; Paid more and treated better than you are in the games industry. I interned at a motion capture place during college that did the animation for Prey and it was pretty mind numbing after a while of fixing animation.


New member
Oct 30, 2008
reg42 said:
Oh God, dollars.
Is $67000 a year a lot?
That's $20k more than my mother and father (one of them educated, the other not so much) make put together.

So it's a fair amount.


don't upset the insane catgirl
Apr 11, 2009
Yeah right.

These figures seem highly inflated for 'averages'.

I've seen figures for salaries in this industry before.

Granted, they're UK figures, but let's consider the programmer.

Now, according to that chart, that'd be $90,000

But, according to what I've seen, the typical wages for a senior programmer are about £50,000
That's fine, that converts to round about $90,000 us.

That glosses over the fact that that's a 'senior' position, eg; Highest paid in that area...

A junior, starting position begins at £16,400...

Suddenly doesn't look so hot does it? That's maybe 30,000.

This is in a country where the minimum wage is £5.76, which for a full-time job is about £12,000.

Now, since that's £12,000 for a 'full time' job of 40 hours a week, but £16,400 for a job where 60 hour weeks were once considered 'normal', and you've got to ask yourself, is it worth it?

Sure, the pay is good if you're at the top...
But then it usually is.

And yet, have you seen ads for programming jobs recently?
They get up to £120,000 a year if you look around; Suddenly, even £50-60,000 doesn't seem so hot...

try this for comparison:



Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
I find it oddly ironic that I've been argueing about this back and forth with a number of people including John Funk, and then this gets posted. :p

So basically what we're looking at is an industry where we have the programmers/code monkeys at the near top of the chart making the better part of 100k a year. Then we've got Game Designers who seem to be ones who don't program and mostly come up with ideas which they pass to the monkeys to make work still pulling down an average of 67k a year. Heck, we've got what amount to on-staff beta testers making 32k a year.

My typical point of course being that of course this Ferrari driving lifestyle (to use the article's term, and referring to game designers who are on one of the lower tiers on the chart) is passed on to us the consumers due to the rising cost of game development as they demand this money which of course requires the prices of games to be raised/stay high, and things like DLC to help support it.

I'm all for capitolism, but as I said, there is a point where I think the consumers need to say "hey, wait a second here" when it comes to some of these high priced products.

I remember another article a while back (which I think I linked to at one point, though maybe it was on another forum) which kind of talked about things from the producer/financers perspective in the Development Team/Money Provider relationship. This article (and others like it) were responsible for a lot of my ideas about how much these guys on the development side get paid, as well as the other perks they collect. It was intended as a rebuttal of sorts to articles on "how the industry works" from a developer perspective which lead a lot of people to tend to blame the evil producers for picking on the developers and being responsible for the prices of games. Specific numbers were not given, but it did talk about pretty high rates of pay for what they were doing (which were always increasing) combined with the use of the dev budget for things like food and board. Basically a development team ordering out on the dev budget for 3 meals a day while they work, or charging the dev budget if they decide they want to take up semi-residence at a motel close to the offices so they don't have to drive, or whatever.

All arguements aside, it all comes down to the fact that with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars, the actual expenses like computers and office space are minimal in proportion to the budget. Most of that money goes towards the human resources, either directly in terms of pay, or in the form of benefits. I seem to vaguely remember the percentage being like less than 5% on materials, but even if you say 10% what this means is that with a 70 million dollar game, 63 million dollars wound up going towards the people
they hired one way or another. What they demand to do this work is of course why game development is so expensive and why us the consumers pay a high price for games and get nickel and dimed.


New member
Jun 29, 2009
Programmers make a lot, which is reliving, considering that's what I'd be going into should I go into game design.


New member
Oct 7, 2007
51gunner said:
Few things I'd like to know:
- How many companies is this the average of?
- Which companies is this averaged across?
The bigger issue is probably that they lumped Quality Assurance (IE: playtesting) in there, and compared to most other jobs in the industry it pays like crap even when you've got several years of experience. "Lead QA" doesn't even make as much money as an assistant designer a lot of the time. Animation and art jobs also have crappy salaries being that the job market is saturated with decent-to-pretty-good game artists, but even THEY tend to make more money than QA.