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Game Developer Salary Survey Reveals Average Pay

by Rainier on April 14, 2008 @ 10:44 a.m. PDT

People looking to get into the game industry might be interested to know that Game Developer magazine has released the results of its 7th annual Game Developer Salary Survey, calculating an average American game industry salary in 2007 of $73,600, slightly up from 2006’s figure of $73,316.

Highlights of specific findings per category for the survey, which is the only major publicly released analysis of salaries in the worldwide video game industry, is available in further detail in the newly published April 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine include:

  • Programming: programmers are the highest paid talent next to high-end businesspeople, with an average annual salary of $83,383. They are also among the highest educated group; 50% hold bachelor’s degrees and about 26% have some graduate work.
  • Art & Animation: artists – averaging a $66,594 salary - are also a well trained group, with 66% reporting at least a bachelor’s degree. The percentage of artists with six or more years of experience increased to 40%, up 5% over last year, as industry workers matured.
  • Game Design: Averaging $63,649, design positions sprouted an average $2,111 over last year, with writers new to the industry up by $6,000 to an average of $51,731. In addition, Game Developer surveyed community managers for the first time, with an average salary of $50,294 for the increasingly important job function.
  • Production: of all the game development disciplines, production – with a salary average overall of $78,716 - seems to be one of the most welcoming to women, with 18% of the workforce made up of females. The discipline as a whole saw an above-average, though somewhat marginal $1,585 bump from last year.
  • Quality Assurance: testers with less than three years experience make up the largest percentage of this segment. Quality assurance is the lowest paid of the game development disciplines, averaging $39,063, and also receives the least in additional compensation – although Q/A leads with more than 6 years of experience average a salary of $70,658.
  • Audio: sound designers as a group earned more than they did in 2006, up $3,474 on average over last year to $73,409. Interestingly, 40% of those in the game audio industry have been working there for 6 years or more – more than the 36% for game design, but less than the 51% for production.
  • Business & Marketing: the business field as a whole remains the highest compensated group in game development - with an average salary of $101,848 - and also receives the highest amount of additional compensation. However, salaries vary significantly between individual job titles in this section, with experienced executives making the most of any individual section in the entire survey – at $132,305 average for more than 6 years experience.

“Our Salary Survey continues to provide canonical information on the state of game pay,” Simon Carless, publisher of Game Developer magazine, said. “We hope the data presented by Game Developer magazine will serve to both encourage aspiring developers, as well as focus the attention of increasingly important new industry positions such as community managers.”

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