Survey Says: 98% of Game Developers Not Receiving Overtime Pay

Five years after EA Spouse spilled the beans on the video game industry’s abuse of its game development teams, a new survey indicates that worker bees still aren’t getting their due.

Develop reports that 98% of respondents to a recent poll said that they are putting in 10-15 extra hours of work per week but getting no overtime pay. Results were based on answers provided by more than 350 industry professionals.

See the results of the Develop survey here.

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  1. Valentia X says:

    Well, it can be more iffy than that. If I work 38 hours, I get paid for 38 hours. If I work 40 hours, I get paid for 40 hours. And if I work for 50 hours, I get paid for 40 hours. Apparently there’s a new branch of ‘salaried’ wherein all OT = comp time. Mind you, in my case I’m not complaining, but I don’t have crunch time issues either, since I don’t work in the vg industry. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone of them are held to that standard as well.


    A 40 hour work week was established for a reason. I know very few people who mind working overtime as necessary (I personally clock it every week). But continuous cycles of it is ridiculous and has a negative impact on the employee (developing health issues, problems at home, etc) which will have an effect at work eventually.

  2. SpiralGray says:

    I don’t get why this keeps coming up. I’ve been in the software field for a little over 25 years now. I’ve NEVER had a job that paid overtime. I’ve been a salaried (i.e. "exempt", as in "exempt from overtime") employee my entire career (in Canada and the US). When I was in university, worked in retail, and punched a time clock I got paid overtime, but I’ve never met a salaried employee (in the US or Canada) that got paid overtime.

    Now if these guys were hourly contractors whose contract capped their weekly billables to 40 but the managers were expecting them to work more than that, then they’ve got a right to complain.

  3. Speeder says:

    That is the advantage of Brazil work laws…


    If you make someone work overtime, you have to pay him DOUBLE…

    Example, you hire a guy to work 40 hour week for 1000 USD…

    You make him work 60 hour, you need to pay 2000 USD in total. If he works 80, you need to pay him 3000 USD…

    Altough this does improve QoL a lot, this is not the intention of the law (obviously… laws are made by people that want to get elected again), the reason is diminish unemployment rates (since is cheaper to hire another guy for another 1000 USD to work 40 hour week, than have only a single guy working 60… even if you do not consider the inneficiency of crunch, obviously is better 80 hours total for 2000 USD than 60 hours total for 2000 USD…)


  4. predatorgsr says:

    Yea so what.  The only problem is if companies are abusing it. Crunch time in an of itself isn’t a bad thing, and I have no problem doing it.  Game companies tend to be very lax, and my company at least treats its employees very well.  We get awesome benefits and people take 2 hour lunches and short days all the time if we don’t happen to have a lot of work to do at the moment.  So at the end of the project if we need to work a few weekends or a little OT in order to get a game shipped, everyone does it gladly.  And if there is an extended crunch time, we usually get a few days off afterwards.  It’s just the way things get done in the industry.  

    It goes both ways.  Game companies will cut you some slack during some parts of the project, with the expectation that you’ll put in the extra effort when it is really needed.  The alternative is clocking in every day and reviewing timesheets, and I sure as hell don’t want that.

  5. lumi says:

    A game dev studio did this?  I refuse to believe that.  You’d have people taking two week vacations a few times a year.

  6. Wormdundee says:

    The company I previously worked for did exactly that. They are very good to their employees. They called it flex time. If you worked 5 hours extra one week, that’s 5 hours put into your flex pool. You can then take 5 hours off any other time (I think it expires every year).

    I’m not completely sure, but I think they also allowed you to cash it out if you didn’t want the time off.

  7. squigs says:

    If they want a company staffed entirely by graduates, then feel free to set one up. 

    I’m a professional with 8 years experience and a life outside of my job. 

    If it’s getting near a deadline and something absolutely has to be finished for a major release next day then I’ll be there.  I’ll expect this as a possibility.  I’ll make sure I’m flexible enough at that time. 

    Telling us we all need to work an extra 10 hours for several weeks because we’re behind schedule is just taking advantage of our desire to see the game released. 


  8. DarkSaber says:

    Yep, and in a couple of years they too can give identical results to a survey like this.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  9. axiomatic says:

    Speaking as someone who worked in the Game industry and left it for the IT industry for this very reason, this is a real issue and it is uniquely different than working overtime in any other industry I have ever been in.

    Managers at game companies abuse game developers (especially artists!) at "crunch time" and its an unspoken rule that it is expected and in my opinion needs to be curbed.

    When "crunch time" occurs at my IT company we are encouraged to help out but not to exceed more than about 5 extra hours per week because the weak ass salaries just don’t warrant it.

  10. lumi says:

    I love the comments from the peanut gallery.  When you guys work in the industry, and experience this first hand, you can talk.

    I hate to break this to you, but at a lot of companies, you’re not talking about 10-15 extra hours a week.  You’re talking about 20-40, depending upon the crunch.

    And you’re not seeing "an extra hour at lunch", OR "taking a day or two off after the deadline", paid or otherwise.

    That’s the whole point.  It’s not explicitly about getting paid time and a half for the hours over 40 in a given week.  It’s about compensation and keeping the regular work schedule manageable for the average human being.

    Did any of you even read Erin’s open letter, or you just assume it was a few pages of her bitching that her husband worked overtime and wasn’t paid, boohoo?

    Is it terrible everywhere?  Of course not.  Is it an incredible industry to work in?  Absolutely.  But you HAVE to love making games to survive in it, and MANY people are simply not prepared for the reality of the dev cycle until they’re already in it.

    Oh, by the way, there are a lot of salaried jobs that specify the length of the work week and/or core hours, so it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to "sign the contract" with an understanding that they’re working approximately 40 hours a week.

  11. the1jeffy says:

    Thanks you for this.  You saved me from typing it.

    If you sign the contract, you do the job, or you quit.  If it takes you 15 extra hours a week, stop fucking blogging from the office.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  12. foolkiller79 says:

    I work salary as a manager in my company.  I am at the lowest level for salary pay at the moment but when I took the position it was explained to me that I am being paid to do the job, not be in the office for an hour at a time.  As a manager I am also on-call 24-7 and get a cell phone stipend. 

    But when it comes to salary vs hourly pay it is a matter of being paid to do a job vs being paid to do something repetitive as much as possible in a given amount of time (an hour in most cases) for a minimum amount of time (8 hours a day/40 hours a week) and then when you exceed that time frame you then get paid extra for going over the minimum time. 

    If these game programmers are being paid salary then they are paid for the job, not the hours, and they should know it going in.

  13. lumi says:

    "Work a half day but get paid for a full?"

    This is another one I hear alot.  I’ve never seen this at any development studio, ever.  Where exactly is this happening?  Is it a Europe/Uk thing (I’ve only ever worked in the US)?

  14. lumi says:

    "Many also stated that they received time off in lieu, but whether this matched overtime worked or was only a small percentage varied"

    I’d love to see them name ONE company that offers time off in equal proportion to overtime worked.  I’d be shocked if they could find one that offers HALF.

  15. DarkSaber says:

    I’d like to know how exactly a smaller percentage of responsesfrom the U.S., which has significantly more game developers than the UK equals a fair overview of the worldwide situation. File this as what it is, Junk Research.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  16. DarkSaber says:

    GP really should have made a point of putting more detail here, it’s highly relevant.


    "Where do you work?

    As expected, over half of respondents came from the UK. Almost 20 per cent came from the US, however, with Europe accounting for another 13.5 per cent. As such, it’s a good spread that can give us a fair overview of the worldwide situation"


    It’s encouraging that over 40 per cent of respondents receive private health care, and over 35 per cent get pension contributions. Although game development may be guilty of eating employees’ time, the perks received are very possibly beyond many other ‘regular’ jobs. Many of the Other answers regarded regular or irregular monetary bonuses, although the frequency and amount of these ranged. Some mentioned that bonuses had been frozen this year due to the worsening economy. Many also stated that they received time off in lieu, but whether this matched overtime worked or was only a small percentage varied.It’s encouraging that over 40 per cent of respondents receive private health care, and over 35 per cent get pension contributions. Although game development may be guilty of eating employees’ time, the perks received are very possibly beyond many other ‘regular’ jobs. Many of the Other answers regarded regular or irregular monetary bonuses, although the frequency and amount of these ranged. Some mentioned that bonuses had been frozen this year due to the worsening economy. Many also stated that they received time off in lieu, but whether this matched overtime worked or was only a small percentage varied."


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  17. lumi says:

    "You can very easily break 100k a year, which isn’t too shabby."

    This is more than most game developers will ever make., especially if they’re not programmers or in production, and been working in the industry for several years.

  18. ZippyDSMlee says:

    and taxes will take 30K of that 100. 0-o


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..

  19. mr_mlk says:

    > IT staff are salaried, which means a fixed pay rate no matter how many hours you work

    I’m salaried and I get paid overtime. I’d move on if that was not the case. Yeah I’m paid to do a job. As part of the job I state how long it will take, if the company want it quicker then they pay for it.

    Now in this model there is some leeway. If I have messed up the schedule I will do a few hours to get back on track, or if I broke something I’ll work the weekend to fix it.

    > and in development, pulling all nighters or weekends is necessary sometimes

    Very rarely, and if it is I’m getting some cash for doing so. If you are doing more than one weekend or all nighter per blue moon then you need to spend some time on the writing schedules and stick to your guns when management starts to bang on the doors.


    A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. Benjamin Franklin

  20. Parallax Abstraction says:

    I’d love to know what IT industry you work in.  With some exceptions of course, IT people who aren’t managers at large companies are usually overworked, underpaid and are the first ones to receive blame every time a user does something stupid because those stupid users are almost always higher up the pay scale than they are.  And "find another industry if you don’t like it" isn’t justification for employers abusing the salaried position.  Just because they can legally make you work more than is reasonable doesn’t mean its right.  Sometimes it isn’t unreasonable to expect the multi-million dollar corporation to pull a little bit of weight too.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  21. Tony says:

    Nothing special or unusual about this.  IT staff are salaried, which means a fixed pay rate no mattter how many hours you work… and in development, pulling all nighters or weekends is necessary sometimes.  This is understood from the moment you sign the contract.  If you don’t like it go find another industry.

    IT staff are excellently paid as a compensation for this.. and there’s always the option of working less than the standard hours when business is quiet.

    I’ve been in IT for 15 years and never seen a company that paid by the hour.  It’s by no means unique to gaming.


  22. Kojiro says:

    Yup.  And the few employers that do consider OT for salaried employees only start at 50 or 55 hours.  And then it is not time and a half, but just a prorated hourly calculated from your salary. 

    But you won’t hear any complaints from me.  While not in the game industry, I am in software.  Not having to punch out for lunch?  Work a half day but get paid for a full?  Leave early cuz you are ahead with your work?  Comp time?  I’d take that over an hourly paycheck any time.

  23. mechwarrior says:

    In the USA, salaried employees dont get overtime. Theres no law for it, or anything similar.

  24. gamepolitics says:

    fixed a horrible typo: "not getting no overtime pay…"

    As they say, you can take the boy out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of the boy…

  25. spyrle says:

    If they do then the last 2 studios I’ve worked for have been breaking them. There’s pretty much always a clause in the contract that says "you do overtime for the good of the company". The best I get where I am now is the time back in lieu after the game has shipped – and when they start blocking holidays left right and centre during crunch time you find it hard to use the days you’ve got back.

  26. Tony says:

    Not really… It has a minimum wage and a series of law regarding working conditions and stopping a company throwing out out on the street with no notice, but nothing that says you *must* have overtime.

  27. NovaBlack says:

    technically not if your on salary pay though 🙁


    i think im just really lucky being salaried and getting the extra hourly rate on top for each hour of overtime. We even get a chef to come cook meals for us if we stay late.

  28. beemoh says:

    Here’s the thing: doing an hour here and there is fine, that’s a favour or simply taking pride in your work- it’s when free overtime is expected of an employee that there’s a problem.



  29. Valdearg says:

    If you ask me, Salaried pay is the biggest load of Bullcrap in the American Economy.

    It practically encourages people to do the least amount of work possible, without putting your job at risk, since you get paid the same anyways.

    That is, of course, until the companies come by and put way more on your plate than you should have, forcing you to put work ahead of your family and even your sanity, for the same amount of pay. Then, your choice is to either put up with the back-breaking, family destroying work, or risk your livelyhood by trying to change jobs, thus, putting your family at risk anyways. It’s really a sad state of affairs that people see making this impossible choice, with potentially life destroying results, as a perfectly normal situation to be in.

    Can’t someone have a decently paying job that they enjoy and are good at without having to work rediculous hours and neglect your family?

  30. X3R0_9 says:

    Seriously this is a load of bs. There are thousands of companies out there that don’t pay overtime…it’s called salary pay. If you don’t like it, work hourly at McDonalds. Most corporate business employees that get paid salary will never see the light of overtime pay, but they do get compensated for working extra. Whether it be an extra hour during lunch, or a day off here and there, they are using that extra time (overtime) as comp time. I put in 50-55 hours a week and don’t get paid overtime, but when my deadline is met, I take a day or two off with pay, and it doesn’t affect my standing vacation time.

    They may work extra now, but I’m sure they get there compensation at the end without affecting anything else they get. The old saying is true, "Can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen." This is the entertainment business, deal with it, or move on.

  31. PxDnNinja says:

    I work in the industry as a designer and I do not get overtime pay, but that is because I am paid salary as are many people. I also get time off at the end of a project as recognition for the overtime I had to put in. Personally I don’t feel ripped off at not being paid overtime.

    Don’t get me wrong, if I was paid overtime, I would happily take it, but I accepted my job knowing it was salary and as such I’m happy with what I have.

  32. zel says:


    This is why i left the IT field. Now i work in a telco and get health benefits, pension plan, and get paid OT with a 40 hour minimum work week + 30 bucks a day i am on-call. You can very easily break 100k a year, which isn’t too shabby. You can also take it easy and not make quite that much but it’s up to you how much you want to grind. Although sometimes you are forced OT, at least you also get paid for it 1.5x plus paid rest periods if you work 16 hours straight, 8 hours paid off.

    That whole attitude of "can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen" is bullshit too. People I knew a few years back used to sing that tune also until they tried to start a family, they weren’t singing that tune too long.

    Also the idea that there is an endless pool of grads willing to break their backs isn’t a smart line of thinking either. There is something to be said for experience. Next time you’re playing a game that just came out and its a buggy piece of shit, think about what happened there.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  33. Valdearg says:

    It is pretty sad that these guys are working thier asses off for the benefit of thier companies, yet aren’t being given thier due.

    If you ask me, it’s pretty low that they are making these guys work 50-60 hours a week, sometimes more, negatively affecting thier home life, for no more than they would get, should they work 40 hours..

    And for someone says: "If they don’t like it, they can shove off." Thats the problem with the industry today.. People’s willingness to work an extra 20 hours a week for no pay should not be how we judge who is worth having the job and who isn’t.. Nobody should be FORCED to work that extra time for no additional incentive, just to keep thier job. It just isn’t frigging right. These corporations are becoming the ones running America, not the people, and it is downright pathetic that so many people just go along with it, let alone ENCOURAGE it.

    Human decency and compassion really needs to be injected back into the American Economy. So many companies nowadays are willing to break the backs of thier employees just to make a few extra bucks, and are getting away with it, because the American people either are too stupid to realize that they are being taken advantage of, or, at worst, are part of the problem..

  34. DarkSaber says:

    The UK has laws guaranteeing overtime though, as far as I know.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  35. NovaBlack says:

    well ive gotten really lucky then..


    Im a uk graduate, i start my job as a gameplay/ai programmer with a well known uk company in about 5 days. And i get a minimum rate £20 an hour overtime pay as specified by my contract.

    Hmm although my brother is working for somebody else and isnt getting paid it…

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