Results showed that the average US salary across the games industry in 2011 was $81,192, virtually flat from the previous year, which saw an overall average of $80,817. The U.S. Business/Legal disciplines garnered the highest average salaries ($102,160) and Quality Assurance Testers earned the lowest average amount ($47,910).
Conducted in February 2012 for the fiscal year January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011, Game Developer magazine gathered over 4,000 responses from game industry professionals worldwide with the help of market feedback firm Audience Insights.
"Game developers this year showed the stability of the industry in the U.S., and the shaky promise of development in the U.K., as salaries fell almost across the board there,” noted Brandon Sheffield, editor-in-chief of Game Developer magazine. “Most interestingly, we noted that while indies make far less money than traditional salaried developers, they tend to be happier - and their income is growing rapidly as well. Do all these things spell a change for the industry? They may very well be. But above all, we just hope people can continue to be happy and successful in this industry we all love!"
Key results from the survey:
- Average salary across the game industry is $81,192 in 2011, up just $375 from 2010
- Individual indies make an average of $23,549, more than double 2010's $11,379. Indie teams made an average of $38,239, up $11,459 from 2010. Independent contractors averaged $56,282, up $800 from 2010.
- Per discipline average salaries (from 1,742 total usable U.S.-based responses):
Business/Legal - $102,160
Programmers - $92,962
Producers - $85,687
Audio - $83,182
Artists and Animators - $75,780
Designers/writers - $73,386
QA testers - $47,910
- Developers are more optimistic: 65% said they felt "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with their potential career path (up 4% over last year), 34% believed there were more jobs in the industry than before (up 5%), and 54% felt there were more opportunities for developers than before (up 7%)
- European salary averages fell across the board, with the exception of producers' salaries, which increased $3,500 over last year. Canadian developers were paid better than European developers in every discipline by anywhere from 30% more to 100% more.
Now in its eleventh year, the Game Developer Video Game Industry Salary Survey was conducted in February 2012 for the fiscal year January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 with the assistance of Audience Insights. Email invitations were sent to Game Developer subscribers, Game Developers Conference attendees, and Gamasutra.com members asking them to participate in the survey.