Game development is a highly sought-after job, and there’s more money than ever flying around in the industry, more money than the film and music industries combined. Game developers are even outbidding Beyonce and Jay-Z on mansions in Beverly Hills. So it’s natural to wonder how much game developers are paid, or if you are already in the industry, to figure out if you are being undersold. Developers are often told not to speak about pay, so we want to unlift that veil.
Salaries vary between countries, and between areas within countries such as cities. A person working in a studio in California will see a significantly different wage to someone working in China, for example. As such we can only make broad generalizations. We’ve covered some numbers from a UK-based research group in the past for both Artist and Programmer roles. So today we’ll be focusing on the U.S.
Game Developer Salaries
According to Glassdoor, the average game developer salary in the U.S. is $70,781, with the range varying from around $40k to $124k. Obviously, that’s quite a large range, and this is down to various disciplines and ranks within the industry. As such we’re going to break it down in a bit more detail.
Game Programmers Salary
The average Game Programmer‘s salary in the US is $74,998, with a range of around $47k to $120k. Generally, Programmers are paid relatively well compared to other departments, partly due to the difficulty of the job and the fact that companies always need more Programmers. This is especially true for Senior Programmers or those that specialize in disciplines like Graphics Programmers, who are highly sought after and as such will generally be paid a lot higher than most other roles.
|Lead Game Programmer||$91k*|
|Senior Game Programmer||$124k|
Game Artist Salary
The average Game Artist‘s salary in the U.S. is $62k, with a range of around $38k to $98k. As a generally more sought-after job, being a stable way for an artist to earn a living, it is generally lower paid than other departments such as programming. This also varies quite a bit depending on your role, such as UI Artist, Character Artists, Lighting Artist ect.
|Lead Game Artist||$91k|
|Senior Game Artist||$94k|
|Junior Game Artist||$44k*|
Game Designer Salary
The average Game Designer‘s Salary in the U.S. is $74k, with the range of around $48k to $114k. Game design is another highly sought-after job but also difficult to master and essential to game development, so whilst it is competitive it also pays well.
|Lead Game Designer||$111k|
|Senior Game Designer||$108k|
|Junior Game Designer||$52k*|
Game Tester Salary
The average salary of a Game Tester or QA in the U.S. is $56k, with a range from around $30k to $102k. Whilst Game Testers are essential to the game development process, the lower skill cap and sought-after nature of the job keep wages down, and as such, unfortunately, it’s generally some of the worst-paid jobs at a company.
|Lead Game Tester||$94k|
|Senior Game Tester||$89k|
|Junior Game Tester||$56k*|
Other Roles and Countries
Whilst it’s impossible to cover every job role in the industry here, or cover every country and city in the world, it’s completely worth looking into something specific to what you are interested in or what you are already involved in. It’s important we talk more about pay and ensure everyone is being paid a fair wage, or being offered a fair wage when applying for a job, as it’s incredibly easy to get underpaid for work. To do so, you should head over to Glassdoor and have a browse.