How Much Money Can You Make In The Video Game Industry?

Everybody wants a job in the video game industry, but which job? The 2009 Game Developer Salary Survey can help you decide, breaking down pay by industry discipline, and making McWhertor's beloved The Tester seem even sillier than it already was.

Looking over this year's report, the best job in the game industry is one from last year, seeing as the overall average salary has dropped to $US75,573 from last year's $US79,000. That having been said, many of those higher paid individuals from last year no longer have jobs, or have been rehired at a lower rate by other companies, so odds are you would have wound up right in line with this year's numbers anyway.

If you've been watching McWhertor's hard-hitting coverage of Sony's PlayStation Network reality show The Tester, then you'll know that recently 11 people from varying walks of life competed for the chance to get a job as a quality assurance tester with Sony Computer Entertainment America, one of the most thankless jobs in the business. It's also the lowest paying job in the business, with an average salary of $US37,905, though those that survive for six years or more enjoy close to double that.

And what would you think are the highest paying jobs? Programmers? Producers? No! It's all about the business and marketing side of things, with the combined group averaging $US96,408 a year. Breaking it down further, executives average $US129,167, while those in the PR side of the spectrum average $US83,804 - though I suspect someone is putting a positive spin on their salary.

The technical disciplines break down like so: Programming: $US80,320 Art and Animation: $US71,071 Game Design: $US69,266 ($US61,859 not counting creative directors and design leads) Production: $US75,082 Audio: $US82,085 Video Game Blogger: Free Chips and Drink with Sandwich Purchase

I'd say that if I were ever to leave the glamorous world of blogging, I'd probably hightail it into PR, mainly because I enjoy buying people drinks and being able to expense it.

How about you folks? Which sort of game industry job do you have or want? Would you trade your job for a chance to spend all day taking naps and eating coffee cake?

Oh, and those interested in the full survey can head over to and purchase it for $US1495.


    ah scrooge mcduck

    So in other words, the people trying to tell people about the games are making more than the people making them. Hmmm. I think people that say they work for PR should have their titles officially translated to 'BS'. Look at Amanita with Machinarium, marketing budget of $1000. They didn't make as much as say MW2, but you get my point.

    Of course it's the execs making the money. Same in the film industry & the music industry. A few high profile creative people will also make big bucks, but most will just be cogs in the wheel, no matter how talented they are.

    I worked as a QA Tester for a 3 month period on Heroes Over Europe and it was a lot of fun and a great way to learn about the industry. As a full time career i'd like to be either in Programming, PR, or who knows maybe an executive! But first I need to finish my uni studies. :)

    Having worked in the industry (I have since moved to finance), and still knowing people who work in the industry I can say with all honestly that the wage average would have to be lower in Australia for positions like programming and art/animation, maybe for others as well but I do not know first hand.

    However maybe the gap from low to high is so immense the average is being pulled up by outliers, but I have my doubts. I am certain however that doing the same job for other industries pull bigger bucks.

      no, you're right, Aus gets paid much lower than the US. though Aus doesn't have any ridiculously cashed up high profile devs skewing the results.

    Definitely the case Jaded - Worked in the Industry here for 4 years with some of the Giants (Sony, EA, Activision, Take 2...) and they treat their staff like crap, and pay you SFA. That being said, one of the most fun jobs I've had for sure :)

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