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Why Do Gaming Programmers Make Less Than In Other Industries?


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#1 peacerenity   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 01:40 PM

hey guys, ive heard that gaming programmers generally make less in comparison to programmers of equivalent experience in other industries. is this true? and if so, why? for reference, i am talking about mainstream game developers like bioware, ea, blizzard, id software, etc. by "other industries", i mean companies like microsoft, google, yahoo, amazon, etc. i know that the average first salary for new computer science grads from my school is $76000 (i go to princeton; this number is from career services) and that salaries at places like google, microsoft, amazon, etc. the starting salaries are usually between 65-80k. is there any particular reason why the elite gaming companies pay less than elite non-gaming companies, other than the fact that programming games sounds more fun to applicants and they offer less because they can?

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#2 Codeka   Members   -  Reputation: 1153

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 01:44 PM

Supply and demand, I would say. More people want to get into a game company than there are places available, so the company can offer a lower salary and still get all the applicants they need.

#3 Rycross   Members   -  Reputation: 576

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 01:44 PM

Supply and demand. There are a huge number of young programmers who want to get into the game industry, and relatively few jobs to supply. This means the competition for those positions is more fierce. More competition means that programmers that really REALLY want to programs games will have to either be extremely good or undercut the competition on price. Usually, the latter happens rather than the former.

#4 peacerenity   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 01:48 PM

Quote:
Original post by Rycross
Supply and demand. There are a huge number of young programmers who want to get into the game industry, and relatively few jobs to supply. This means the competition for those positions is more fierce. More competition means that programmers that really REALLY want to programs games will have to either be extremely good or undercut the competition on price. Usually, the latter happens rather than the former.


thats part of what i figured. programming games just sounds more fun than programming something random. i know that apple pays less too, for probably the same reasons.

are the salaries much less? and do they vary from company to company much? i.e. do "blockbuster" companies like bioware, blizzard, id software, etc. pay less than less known companies because they have rabid fans almost willing to work for free?

#5 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 05:49 PM

Quote:
Original post by peacerenity
thats part of what i figured. programming games just sounds more fun than programming something random. i know that apple pays less too, for probably the same reasons.

are the salaries much less?


There are salary surveys that can let you know for sure. IIRC, it's about 80% of similarly qualified bizdevs in the same area.

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and do they vary from company to company much?


From what I've seen, they vary perhaps a little more than bizdev positions, but that's more because more game companies on average are startup sort of deals.

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i.e. do "blockbuster" companies like bioware, blizzard, id software, etc. pay less than less known companies because they have rabid fans almost willing to work for free?


From what I've seen, the opposite is true (in general). They are big companies, and can take the time to get better programmers. Better programmers know not to get the shaft from companies. Less established companies also tend to have less cash on hand and will occasionally skimp on programmer pay to meet budget.

It's simply more important to established companies to produce a quality product to keep their fans.

#6 Nypyren   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3938

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 06:34 PM

Quote:
Original post by peacerenity
are the salaries much less? and do they vary from company to company much? i.e. do "blockbuster" companies like bioware, blizzard, id software, etc. pay less than less known companies because they have rabid fans almost willing to work for free?


- Successful companies can afford to pay more for experienced employees.
- Successful companies don't want to get burned from hiring a programmer who will pollute their codebase with horrible code, and there's not really any way of evaluating a hiring candidate to prevent this, so the next best thing is Years Experience.

- Experienced employees come from a previous job, probably in the same industry.
- Experienced employees won't usually change jobs for less pay than they currently make.
- Experienced programmers are often pretty jaded, which seems to be a natural vaccine against fanboy-rabies.

#7 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6332

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 03:12 AM

Moved to Breaking in.

#8 Kingerthethird   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:32 AM

I would be wary of that salary prediction. The prices help the school recruit good people into Bachelor Programs, so they tend to be a little high. An example from my stats class (this was a couple years ago), Cultural Geology majors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have a higher starting salary than any other college. This is because Michael Jordan's salary is included in that number, as he has a Cultural Geology Degree from UNC at Chapel Hill. Go back and ask them to cut the top and bottom 10% of numbers from their list and recalculate. This number will likely be more accurate. When I graduated HS, 5 years ago, the federal government estimated the starting salary for a CS major at 55k. Yours will likely be higher, coming from Princeton.

#9 Codeka   Members   -  Reputation: 1153

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 11:54 AM

Quote:
Original post by Kingerthethird
Cultural Geology majors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have a higher starting salary than any other college. This is because Michael Jordan's salary is included in that number, as he has a Cultural Geology Degree from UNC at Chapel Hill.
Ha! That's classic :-)




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