How Much Money Can You Make In The Video Game Industry?

Illustration for article titled How Much Money Can You Make In The Video Game Industry?

Everybody wants a job in the video game industry, but which job? The 2009 Game Developer Salary Survey can help you decide, breaking down pay by industry discipline, and making McWhertor's beloved The Tester seem even sillier than it already was.


Looking over this year's report, which we briefly touched on last month, the best job in the game industry is one from last year, seeing as the overall average salary has dropped to $75,573 from last year's $79,000. That having been said, many of those higher paid individuals from last year no longer have jobs, or have been rehired at a lower rate by other companies, so odds are you would have wound up right in line with this year's numbers anyway.

If you've been watching McWhertor's hard-hitting coverage of Sony's PlayStation Network reality show The Tester, then you'll know that recently eleven people from varying walks of life competed for the chance to get a job as a quality assurance tester with Sony Computer Entertainment America, one of the most thankless jobs in the business. It's also the lowest paying job in the business, with an average salary of $37,905, though those that survive for six years or more enjoy close to double that.

And what would you think are the highest paying jobs? Programmers? Producers? No! It's all about the business and marketing side of things, with the combined group averaging $96,408 a year. Breaking it down further, executives average $129,167, while those in the PR side of the spectrum average $83,804 - though I suspect someone is putting a positive spin on their salary.

The technical disciplines break down like so:

Programming: $80,320
Art and Animation: $71,071
Game Design: 69,266 ($61,859 not counting creative directors and design leads)
Production: $75,082
Audio: $82,085
Video Game Blogger: Free Chips and Drink with Sandwich Purchase


I'd say that if I were ever to leave the glamorous world of blogging, I'd probably hightail it into PR, mainly because I enjoy buying people drinks and being able to expense it.

How about you folks? Which sort of game industry job do you have or want? Would you trade your job for a chance to spend all day taking naps and eating coffee cake?


Oh, and those interested in the full survey can head over to and purchase it for $1,495.



I think it's a bit of a shame to see the Marketing department make mega bucks over the nuts and bolts where the stunning talent is - the artists, the programmers, the designers.

I guess you can call it a necessary evil, but it feels a bit like the the administrators in schools making a ridiculous amount more than the actual teachers. But you know, I suppose that's the way the business model works.

That said, I would never have the talent to work in the gaming industry. I am stunned by what these people do - even web programming can get a bit too complex for me at times. I've often dreamed of writing for a game, but that really only happens for the a few, like Mister Crysis 2 who has been getting headlines lately. Otherwise, it seems you need to be in the industry already, with other relevant talents, to secure a writing job.

When I look at breakdowns of money for gaming, I begin to wonder what the average game makes vs. the average crappy MMO. Because even the games that are not WoW seem to pull in an insane amount of money. With millions of people paying monthly or for microtransactions, that comes out to heck of a lot more than someone buying a game once.

And where does all that go? The execs, server costs, I suppose. But I mean, with the amount of money some of these games take in, it's hard to understand where all of it goes - it wouldn't seem too much of it goes to your average employee, at least.