Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Vincent_M

General Programmer Salary

This topic is 1334 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

What's the average video game programmer's salary in the USA? Wikipedia (reliable source, right?!) says that some 2010 survey make anywhere between $72,000 (< 3 years experience) - $124,000 (6+ experience) at an average of $93,500. These numbers sound extremely high for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

The biggest problem with these numbers and that survey are that the numbers don't really tell you much, and they also tend to skew statistically high, I'd say, since I believe the survey is self-reporting if its the Gamasutra survey. But its really hard to say anything because you don't know whether the respondants were a specialty programmer (graphics or what-have-you), which demand a marked salary increase over the humble "gameplay programmer" most places. The industry also tend to be a place where there's a significant difference in salary between someone who's shipped at least one commercial game and one who hasn't -- probably because of the relatively-high wash-out for first time game devs in high numbers, vs a much-reduced set of people who have shipped a title and come back for more.

 

I would say, at the very low end, a fresh college graduate at a smaller studio might make a salary as low as around 50k -- a number of years ago I was made an offer similar to that, not long after I was out of school. People who have been around through multiple titles and have a specialty or are very strong generalists can top 100K relatively easily, 120K or more is less common, but not unheard of.

 

But in general, for the skills and hours demanded, the games industry is almost always less-compensated than other places you could be employed as a programmer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a side note - the BLS has shown that the wages for programmers across the board have decreased due to foreign competition in the US .

 

 Just be glad you are not a web dev - they get paid $20 - $40 per web page.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the average video game programmer's salary in the USA? Wikipedia (reliable source, right?!) says that some 2010 survey make anywhere between $72,000 (< 3 years experience) - $124,000 (6+ experience) at an average of $93,500. These numbers sound extremely high for me.


You might need to narrow your range than just the USA - we're bigger than many other countries combined and salaries can vary quite a lot from region to region (and the value of a particular salary varies based on cost of living of the location). smile.png

Wikipedia likely pulls their numbers from sources such as Gamasutra (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/221533/Game_Developer_Salary_Survey_2014_The_results_are_in.php).

Their published numbers spiked sharply in the last year compared to the previous year and they're not representative of my anecdotal experiences in Seattle. There are definitely full-time game programmers that make far under $72,000, for instance. This leads me to believe that their survey response demographics have in some way sharply changed compared to the previous year (where numbers were much lower). It may just be that they're getting too small of a sample size and hence are too susceptible to the specific people that respond. It's hard to say without access to the raw source data.

In general, though, it's going to be less than you'd get doing similar work with a similar set of experience at a non-games company. I think saying 80% on average is reasonable, but I don't have a good set of data to back that up. Small game studios pay even less, and junior developers are likely to be even worse off at a game company than at a big non-games company (i.e., a junior dev may get 50% of what they'd get at a larger non-games company and have to work hard for a few years to "close" the gap to ~80%).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Just be glad you are not a web dev - they get paid $20 - $40 per web page.

 

"Per web page"? Web development rarely is measured in terms of pages anymore and hasn't been like that for ten years or more. It was only relevant to measure like that when HTML was the primary technology and static HTML sites were the standard. These days, a web developer typically uses one our more back end languages and has some level of database skill, with JavaScript and CSS to boot. The more skill in any of these areas you have, the better you'll do. Skilled web developers easily make over $100k/year in some places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll take $20 per page, if that includes pages generated by the script / template that I write. :p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"Per web page"? Web development rarely is measured in terms of pages anymore and hasn't been like that for ten years or more. It was only relevant to measure like that when HTML was the primary technology and static HTML sites were the standard. These days, a web developer typically uses one our more back end languages and has some level of database skill, with JavaScript and CSS to boot. The more skill in any of these areas you have, the better you'll do. Skilled web developers easily make over $100k/year in some places.

 

 

Last year I was looking into web page development - the pay listed for most "help wanted" sections was $20 - $40 per page.

 No one bothers to hire American web devs for JavaScript / HTML / CSS .

If you know how to use SQL + PHP + RoR + all the junk mentioned above + general networking, you have a chance of making more than $40,000 a year ( from what I have seen in job postings ) .


Skilled web developers easily make over $100k/year in some places.

If you are a senior project leader .

Edited by Shippou

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Their published numbers spiked sharply in the last year compared to the previous year and they're not representative of my anecdotal experiences in Seattle. There are definitely full-time game programmers that make far under $72,000, for instance. This leads me to believe that their survey response demographics have in some way sharply changed compared to the previous year (where numbers were much lower).

Yes there were some changes.
 
First off, those numbers are averages. Studios are coming out of some recession years, and many places will reward those who they didn't lay off with bonuses and perks once money starts flowing again.  It is a very common change immediately after a recession to see the gross numbers they are paid out, then drop back down somewhat.  

Second off, several states started pushing back and enforcing wage laws. Several big game development states, such as California, were faced with a major economic downturn and began stricter enforcement of labor laws because higher pay means higher taxes. Sadly game development is rife with companies that break employment laws.  Unpaid overtime is extremely common, and except for a few specifically-exempted people, is illegal. While many programmers are exempt, other disciplines are not. So a few carefully written letters reminding studios that they must pay overtime hours even if the people are salaried. A new misclassification law came into effect in California that charges up to $25000 per "misclassified" employee, plus the managers and HR staff can be found personally liable (meaning they can go to jail). That law caused a sudden uptick in contractors being reclassified as employees, in salaried employees suddenly getting reminders in their inbox to report overtime hours, and employers paying out extra money during crunches. When the law was passed the state declared that they were going to vigorously enforce it (because it gives them lots of revenue) and they were specifically targeting IT and software engineering companies. A few got hit, word spread very quickly.



 

they're not representative of my anecdotal experiences in Seattle.

 
Every year I hear people say they skew high. Yet every year I look at them and look over the salaries and bonuses that I actually know, and see them as about right for an average, in part because of the ranges they pick.  0-3 years of experience is 23% of the workforce, 3-6 years is 35%, and 6+ years is 42%. There are LOTS of age ranges in the 6+ years bucket, although many move over to the management side. To me it does seem like an average, many people take the lowball payment offer, others do not.
 
The finer details of the survey break it down by state, and they DO have a sufficient sample size. Washington State is the second highest paid in the industry. Washington is above average, at about $90K for those 0-6 years, and over $105K for >6 years. 
 
 
Make sure you are considering both the base pay plus any bonuses and benefits in your compensation.  If that really does not reflect your workplace, I suggest you consider floating a resume to nearby companies, and also brushing up on your negotiating skills.

Edited by frob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

"Per web page"? Web development rarely is measured in terms of pages anymore and hasn't been like that for ten years or more. It was only relevant to measure like that when HTML was the primary technology and static HTML sites were the standard. These days, a web developer typically uses one our more back end languages and has some level of database skill, with JavaScript and CSS to boot. The more skill in any of these areas you have, the better you'll do. Skilled web developers easily make over $100k/year in some places.

 

 

Last year I was looking into web page development - the pay listed for most "help wanted" sections was $20 - $40 per page.

 No one bothers to hire American web devs for JavaScript / HTML / CSS .

If you know how to use SQL + PHP + RoR + all the junk mentioned above + general networking, you have a chance of making more than $40,000 a year ( from what I have seen in job postings ) .

 


Skilled web developers easily make over $100k/year in some places.

If you are a senior project leader .

 

You are defiantly looking in the wrong places for work.  A skilled Javascript developer can easily earn 100k plus and the average is at least double the salary of a games developer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"No one bothers to hire American web devs for JavaScript / HTML / CSS "

 

Well no. Working at that level is simple. I work in JS, HTML, CSS, Java, Python, C++, SQL and a bunch of other languages. And it's not just coding -- I design and develop the features, test them with our users and build things to solve their problems.

 

And I'm definitely making more than $40k.

 

" the pay listed for most "help wanted" sections was $20 - $40 per page."

 

Then I'd suggest looking somewhere sensible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!