Is there a lot of money in video games? Certainly. After all, the best-selling titles each year more than rival blockbuster films. The amount made by a game designer, though, may surprise you. Given the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, of developers may work on a single game and that the costs constantly rise even as sticker prices remain stable, game developer salary is strongly in the middle of the road. These designers may put in incredibly long hours during crunch time, but the average salary may be surprisingly low. Unlike others in the creative industry, it seems that designers’ salary is far more in line with those that might work in other behind-the-scenes technical capacities in other industries.
Figuring out an average game designer salary probably means that it is necessary to narrow down one’s definition. An average game designer, for example, will bring home between forty and seventy thousand dollars per year. Others that get lumped into the category, such as programmers, will pull in between fifty and ninety thousand dollars per year. The salaries are largely reflective of the growing nature of the video game business, a business that routinely out-performs other forms of media. Of course, it also fails to take into account the amount of hours worked by some of these designers – during the eighty-plus hours per week worked during the lead-up to a launch, even the highest-earning designers are still earning less than twenty dollars per hour.
A game designer salary is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it is certainly not reflective of either the long hours or limited number of positions in the industry. Getting to the point of working as a designer might require many years working in the trenches as a tester, individuals that might average under twenty-five thousand dollars a year. The top of the industry, though, still pays quite well and the jobs are well worth pursuing.