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  • Game Developer Salary Survey 2013

    - Patrick Miller

  • Programmers

    Average salary: $92,151

    Programmers make the (game) world go 'round; once again, they're second only to the business and legal people in terms of overall compensation. This year's average programmer salary is down slightly ($811) from last year's average. Most of those cuts, interestingly enough, came on the more experienced side of the industry: Newer programmers reported salaries $8,000 higher than last year's, while programmers with 3-6 years of experience made $900 less, and those with over six years of experience made $2,500 less. Furthermore, most of those cuts came from more senior positions; technical directors' salaries are down $10,300 from last year, and lead programmers' salaries are down $3,500 for 3-6 years of experience and down $7,000 for over six years of experience. Contract programmers averaged $62,500 this year.

    Canadian programmers averaged $70,712, which is down about $4,300 from last year, and European programmers averaged $43,914, which is down $2,900.

    Artists and Animators

    Average salary: $75,009

    Artists and animators also saw a slight decline ($770) from last year's survey average. Again, most of the losses were from more-experienced devs: Artists or animators with over six years of experience averaged $16,500 less than last year, and art directors averaged $30,000 less than last year. Interestingly enough, lead/tech artists with over six years of experience actually made $10,000 more than last year, pushing their salary average above that of the more-senior art director title. Contract artists averaged $64,741 this year.

    Canada-based artists and animators averaged $63,227 this year (down $3,400 from last year), and Europe-based artists and animators averaged $40,776, which is up $5,000 from last year and puts them right back where they were in 2010.

    We received 3% more responses from female artists and animators this year, bumping the gender balance up to 84% male, 16% female, and their average salary bumped up $7,400 over last year's. Male artists' and animators' salaries fell $1,300, but they still make about $16,000 more than their female counterparts.

    Game Designers

    Average salary: $75,065

    Unfortunately, our writer respondent pool was so small this year that we weren't able to break out their results separately like we have in previous salary surveys. Entry-level game designers saw a $6,300 increase over last year; game designers with 3-6 years of experience made $1,500 less, and game designers with over six years of experience made $5,000 more than last year, while creative directors and lead designers made $16,600 more at the 3-6 year level and $6,500 more at the over-sixyear level. Considering how important design is for mobile and free-to-play games, we're not terribly surprised to see this increase. Contract designers averaged $46,786. Canada-based game designers didn't fare quite so well, though; their $56,576 average is down $3,750 over last year's, while Europe-based designers' average of $43,600 is up $5,400 from last year's.

    Gender balance remained the same (89% male) in the design field. Female designers' average salaries also stayed the same, while male designers averaged $2,400 more over last year's salary.


    Average salary: $84,127

    Producers averaged $1,500 less than last year, with cuts felt pretty much across the board; entry-level associate producers made $8,000 less, associate producers with 3-6 years of experience made $4,500 less, and project leads and executive producers with over six years made $6,000 less and $13,000 less, respectively. Also, producers/project leads with 3-6 years of experience made $12,000 more than last year. Contract producers averaged $65,833.

    Canada-based producers fared better, averaging $76,875 ($5,400 higher than last year's average), while Europe-based producers averaged $54,167, which is $2,200 less than last year's average.

    Historically, we've seen more women in production than we have in other development disciplines, and this year continues that trend with a 7% increase in responses from female producers, bringing the count to 77% male, 23% female. Overall, male producers saw a $1,500 average salary decrease from last year, while female producers made an extra $650.


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