Game Developer Research, the folks in cahoots with Game Developer Magazine and Gamasutra have recently released their ninth annual Game Developer Salary survey. The survey found an overall decrease in the average game dev salary of 4% when compared to the same figures from 2008. The average game developer took home approx. $79,000 in 2008, while 2008 saw that salary slip to $75,573.
Keep in mind, 2008 was a banner year for game developers, as they set an industry average record that year, not something to easily top. This drop in salaries is the first case on record of a significant average salary decrease. Game Developer Research points to a loss in consumer confidence, and attributes this to the current economic climate. And while this is a drop in average salaries, the number did not dip below 2007’s number, indicating that this may be a direct result of out of control Wall Street bankers making crazy bets on commodities failing.
Game Developer Research also took a look at today’s independent or smaller game developers, with results to be released soon.
Some industry highlights from the report:
- Game programmers have an average salary of $80,320. The survey found that programmers with more than six years of experience in their field earned, on average, 36 percent more than the average 2009 annual salary.
- Art & Animation folks made out better than average in 2009. They saw an average increase in salary, up 2 percent to $71,071.
- Game Designers also saw a slight increase in salary in 2009. Up 3 percent, the average salary for game designers came in at just over $60k with $61,859. This discipline also includes writers, who earn on average $61,786.
- Production folks earned on average $75, 082. The survey also found that this area of games is also the most female friendly, with 18 percent of game producers being female. While this figure is down from last years, it’s still almost twice the industry average. Production people also tend to be the most experienced in the industry, with almost half (49 percent) having 6+ years of gaming involvement.
- QA testers tend to have the fewest years of experience under their belt, with nearly half having less than three years. Therefore, these people tend to be the least paid in the industry, with an average salary of $37,905. However, in contrast, if these people stick around for six or more years, the survey found that this salary more than doubles.
- Sound Designers and composers are generally the most experienced people in the industry, and are thus compensated for it. While they earned on average $82,085, the survey also found that this segment of the industry is also opening up to new talent, with those with less than three years of experience rose to a new high of 38 percent. Balancing this out, those with more than six years of industry experience dropped significantly, currently holding at 33 percent.
- And now for the big winners: Business and Marketing. On average, these folks took home $96,408. This figure even includes a 6 percent drop from last years’ numbers. The survey also found that these individuals are the most likely to receive additional compensation. And while this number might be quite lofty, there’s still a wide range of salaries even within this microcosm, as marketing and PR employees averaged $83,804, executives, $129,167.
The full report, “Game Developers Salary Survey” includes more detailed U.S. regional and growth data for year-over-year results from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, plus international information from Canada and Europe. This report, and others, are now available from the Game Developer Research division.