Game Developers

Game_Career_Guide_August2014

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GAMASUTRA SALARY SURVEY 2014 The game industry is inherently prone to change, volatility, and disruption. But in 2013, we began to see the chaos of prior years settle down just enough to allow game makers to familiarize themselves with the current reality. Whereas 2012 showed us an industry in flux, 2013 was a year of identifying and dealing with transition. These transitions affected the way game developers make a living. How so? Most obviously, we can no longer consider the democratization of game development an emerging trend -- lower-barrier game development is now a fact of life. While this created the opportunity for many people to make and release games, it also invited a flood of games onto app stores and digital PC storefronts, making it difficult for anyone to actually find -- let alone pay you for -- the game you made. In triple-A game development, 2013 was a year in which salaried employees adjusted to a release slate made up of even fewer games than the year prior, and competed over fewer jobs, as large publishers came to terms with the transition, often resorting to layoffs. And we also transitioned to a new generation of game consoles, the initial success of which left companies scrambling to serve a market that has proved meaningful even through all of the industry's fluctuations and changes. So here are some of the top-line statistics: In 2013, salaried game developers in the U.S. earned an annual salary of $83,060 on average, which is down slightly compared to last year's $84,337. Fourteen percent of our respondents said they were laid off during the course of the year, which is 2 percent higher than 2012. But 60 percent said their salary increased between 2012 and 2013, versus 32 percent who said their pay stayed the same, and 9 percent who said it decreased. Despite the fact that making video games is hard, general sentiment surrounding a career in game development is positive, with 45 percent saying they agree that the game industry is "still a great place to work in" (flat year-on-year), with 19 percent "strongly agreeing" (down from 24 percent). The remaining respondents were in strong disagreement to neutral with that statement (only 3.1 percent said they "strongly disagree," flat from the previous year). Forty percent said they were satisfied with their current career path, with 18 percent "extremely satisfied," 29 percent "somewhat satisfied," and 13 percent "unsatisfied." In the write-in answers to the open question, "Do you have anything to say about the game industry in 2013?", answers indicated that game developers are well-aware of the challenges that the industry poses, which include: long work hours, job instability, shifting business models, the fact that good games are hard to make, and cultural issues such as sexism. But underneath most of these worries, there is an undercurrent of enthusiasm that revolves not around salary, but around loving games, and creating games. That's why people stick with this industry. Of course, enthusiasm doesn't put food on the table. Here's how game developers earned their living, and how much they made, in 2013. 082 game developer magazine

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