The pay? According to some, sucks.
Programming Japanese video games might seem like a glamourous job to those outside the industry, but according to some on the inside, it pays peanuts. A thread on Japanese bulletin board 2ch asked Japanese game industry programmers about how much they made each month. These 2ch salary claims, of course, are anonymous and unverified.
Here are some of the replies (translated by CNNGo):
• "¥130,000 (US$1,461) For 256 hours of work a month." (For reference, a 'normal' 40-hour work week equals 160 hours per month.)
• "Let me tell you, the minimum salaries that game companies claim to pay employees are total BS. Ads promising ¥250,000+ ($2,810) a month? In reality they pay ¥130,000 ($1,460) a month. ¥200,000+ ($2,250) a month? In reality they pay ¥110,000 ($1,240) a month. Oh, and then you get taxes withheld. So take-home's like ¥70,000-80,000 ($790~$900) a month. Ah ha ha ha!"
• "¥160,000 and I am ready to die. I can't even afford the 'recruit suit' I'll need for interviewing for another job."
• "Salary varies from individual to individual so it's hard to say, but speaking about the industry as a whole you can definitely say 'low enough to make people regret dedicating themselves to games.' A precious few blessed with talent can earn a living wage. And an even more precious few who get lucky can make more than a living wage."
The take home pay is then compounded if the programmers live in Tokyo or Osaka, home of multiple game companies and two of the most expensive cities in the world.
If you think Japanese game programmers have it bad, check out what those in the Japanese anime industry make.