Game Developer Salary Survey Released

April 27, 2011 -

Game Developer magazine released the results of its tenth annual Game Developer Salary Survey, revealing what various positions in the video game industry are paid in 2010. This year's survey contrasts increasing salaries for mainstream game developers with continued gains for independent creators.

Mainstream video game industry salaries enjoyed a seven percent increase in 2010 over 2009, reaching and average salary of $80,817. Independent contractors earned an average of $55,493, while "independent game" team members trailed with a $26,780 average, an increase of over $6,000 from the previous year's survey.

By job type, programmer continued to the highest paid position in both the console and online game industry - after production and those in the business and legal sectors - with an average annual salary of $85,733. Salaries for programmers increased by around $5,000 over 2009 numbers, except in entry-level positions, which saw a $1,000 decrease.

Art and animation positions were mostly flat compared to 2009 at $71,354. Art directors saw a slight bump in compensation from pay raises.

Game designers saw a slight boost from 2009 numbers, with the average salary being reported at $70,223. Designers saw little movement in 2010, as the discipline has been one of the most stable in terms of compensation.

Producers saw an overall salary dip in 2009, but in 2010 the position increased by over $13,000, for a total average salary of $88,544. Female employees continued to be best-represented in this field, with 17 percent of the respondents being women.

Sound designers and composers earned an average of $68,088, with 15 percent of respondents reporting that they earned less than in 2009. The category typically has a low response rate, due to the fact that there are few full-time audio professionals employed in games, but individuals in the field are those most likely to receive royalties for their work.

Quality assurance remains the lowest paid discipline, with an average salary of $49,009 being reported. Similar to industry employees working in production, the 2010 salary bump over 2009's $37,905 figure may be a result of those individuals working in web game-centric industries and with more complex testing skills.

Business and legal employees remain the highest paid in the industry across all levels of experience, with the average salary being reported at $106,452. Along with having the second-highest numbers for female representation, those working in business and legal are also more likely to receive additional compensation, with 85 percent of respondents reporting that they had.

In the "self-reporting" part of the survey, where developers can express opinions, salaried game developers often had a bleaker outlook on the industry. These respondents stated that working in the traditional structure is "frustrating," complaining that larger studios are "trimming talent" and crunching harder. Independent developers felt that the industry was more fertile and and as innovative than ever, praising the arrival of new platforms and revenue streams. Some of these individuals called 2010 "the year of the indie."

The full survey results appear in the latest issue of the magazine .

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Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
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Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
TheSmokeyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/call-of-duty-swatting-hoax_n_5195659.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada CoD loser calls SWAT on person who beat him04/23/2014 - 7:13am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/xbox-one-reaches-japan-on-september-4/ Just give it up, Microsoft. You're NEVER going to be big in Japan, especially now that the notoriously clunky in Japan Kinect is MANDATORY.04/23/2014 - 7:10am
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