Women Earn Significantly Less Money Than Men At Rockstar North, Among Other Gaming Companies

Image: Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto V)

A number of gaming companies in the UK employ women in roles which, on average, pay less than the ones their male colleagues are in according to a new UK government database. At Grand Theft Auto makers Rockstar North, the gap is particularly large.

At the studio based in Edinburgh, Scotland, the average hourly rate for women is 64% lower than for men while the median is 34% lower. This means that average hourly compensation for female employees is £0.36 for every £1 made by a man. (The average, or mean, is calculated by dividing total team income by number of workers, while the median looks at the income of the middle-ranked employee.) These figures and others were provided to the UK government as part of a new requirement. Companies in the country with 250 employees or more are now required by law to submit data on the gender pay gaps within their workforce which are then logged in a public database.


Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Namco UK, and Electronic Arts all reported average gaps in hourly pay between men and women in the low teens, with Namco’s being the highest of the three at 14.5% and Microsoft’s being the lowest at 12.8%. The UK’s median gender pay gap across all industries is 18.4% according to the Office of National Statistics as reported by the BBC. Meanwhile, companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s reported discrepancies in average pay in the single digits.

A breakdown of workers in each hourly pay quartile by gender based on data supplied by Rockstar North.
Screenshot: GOV.UK

Part of the reason Rockstar North is such an outlier is due to the lack of women in high paying roles at the company. According to the database, Only 8% of Rockstar North employees in the top quartile of hourly pay at the company are women. Most of the women at the company work in roles at the lower end of the pay scale, with 21.4% of employees in the lowest quartile being women. The figures at companies like SIE Europe were much less lopsided.

Figures submitted by Electonric Arts.
Screenshot: GOV.UK

It’s illegal in the UK for people performing the same work to be paid differently. As a result, pay gaps like the one at Rockstar North are more an indication of how few women work in the higher echelons of the company.

Figures submitted by SIE Europe.
Screenshot: GOV.UK

Rockstar offered an explanation for the difference in a report filed along with the pay data. “While our male and female employees are fairly compensated based on merit and without reference to gender, our gender pay gap is driven primarily by the structure of our workforce, with longer tenured employees who are predominately male occupying our most senior roles,” said the studio’s director, Andrew Semple.

A Rockstar rep reiterated that explanation in a statement to Kotaku and said the company is working to change things:  “We are proactively working to decrease this disparity and we look forward to seeing representation of our female colleagues continue to grow in all roles and at all levels as we actively recruit, train and encourage women to pursue career opportunities at Rockstar North and within our industry.”


King, makers of Candy Crush Saga and all of its spin-offs, are also in the database, but under the name MidasPlayer.com. That company reports an average hourly gap of 13.5%.

The deadline for companies to file their reports has now expired. Large companies that refuse to report their gender pay gap figures could be subject prosecution or government inquiries.

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Ethan Gach

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com