Making a living creating games. That’s the ultimate dream, right?
But it’s also a challenging job that can come with frustrations and long hours worked. And it’s a competitive field, because many young people have the goal of a career in Game Development.
Are Game Developers compensated well enough in light of these facts, then?
The quick answer is:
Game development, on average, does not pay as well as many other Software Engineering jobs.
Top-end developers do make over six figures a year, but as a Junior Game Developer, you might have to start at around $60k annualy.
Let’s have a detailed look at what salary you can expect.
Game Developer salary in numbers
According to salary.com, the average base salary of a Game Developer in the US is $73,427 as of 2023. This comes out to an average hourly rate of ~$37.
The low end
10% of Game Developers are earning the low of $57,000 per year – or $19/hour.
The high end
The top 10% of Game Devs take home the high of $131,000 per year – or $70/hour.
Profit shares and bonuses
Some game development companies are paying bonuses and profit shares to their developers. These vary widely from $2,000 to $70,000 per year and are dependent on the company’s release schedule, individual performance, and product success. A survey by Game Developer Magazine found average additional compensation to come out at $26,872.
- According to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), as a first- or second-year Game Developer, you can expect to make a salary of $57,000 on average.
- With over 6 years of experience, on the other hand, you can expect an average annual compensation of $70,000.
According to salary.com, game developer salaries by US state are as follows:
- Arizona: $69,295
- California: $87,684
- Idaho: $65,326
- Massachusetts: $59,808
- Montana: $62,820
- Nevada: $71,305
- New York: $82,423
- Oregon: $73,080
- Washington: $77,401
Comparing game developer salaries with other fields
Game Developer: $74,000
Software Engineer: $125,000
Software Tester: $55,000
Cloud Engineer: $133,000
Blockchain Developer: $145,000
Video Game Artist $69,000