Game Development Salaries by Profession

When it comes to looking for a career, apart from finding a position that you are passionate about or a job that will challenge you, financial stability is a crucial aspect you need to consider. While it is true that the financial needs vary from person to person, the salaries of various professionals with in the gaming industry do not vary as much.

Here are some of the standard salaries for different professionals within the game development world.

Game Developer (lead artist or art director)

The process of developing a game often requires the collaboration of numerous people to ensure the success of the project. Typically, there is no one person in a corporation that is responsible for everything; however, the lead artist or the art director would be considered the top dog in the game development industry. This position, which is earned and generally not just bestowed on anyone, can expect to receive a salary of around $92,000 a year. The salary increases, of course, as your experience increases allowing you to make up to roughly $115,000 a year.


Programmers usually make a fairly reasonable salary when starting out. The typical programmer can expect a $62,000 salary if he or she has less than three years of experience. After acquiring more than six years of experience the salary more than doubles to be around $135,000 mark. Keep in mind that the more experience you have the more money you will make.

Companies do not want to have to train individuals on how to program JavaScript and Unity. While you will be asked to attend a course every so often, showing the initiative by presenting a college degree or certification in computer programming will go far to ensure that you reach a minimum of $80,000 starting salary (based upon 3 years’ experience being credited).


The cliché of a starving artist is not true at all. Illustration graphic artist can make a living as a professional and many of them have done so. The difference is that professionals do not treat artistry as a hobby. A hobby mindset yields the money you would make doing a hobby. A professional mindset yields a salary. An illustrator/designer with less than three years of experience can expect about $46,000 a year. Those with 3 to 6 years of experience can make around $60,000 a year, of those with more than six years experience can make up to $118,000 a year.

Because the graphics are a major part of the game development process (often if the game does not have good graphics, it will be difficult to sell), it is essential for any illustrator/designer to understand not only how to work a computer but how to do the fundamentals on the drawing board. A minor understanding of HTML5 and CSS will also help you to maintain a higher salary than that of a competitor seeking the same job.

Game Testers

For many gamers, the ideal job would be to sit around and test games all day long as a professional career. To debunk the misconceptions about what a game tester constitutes, one should understand that the game tester does not simply play games. They is a lot involved in ensuring that there are no glitches within the games as well as contributing to how to solve problematic areas with in the game development. Much of the game tester’s career revolves around not only playing games but also making reports based upon the time they’ve spent playing a game. That being stated, a game tester can expect to make around $55,000 per year.

Realistically, game companies usually do not hire game testers on a salary basis unless they are proficient in programming or other aspects of game development. Many times the role of the game tester and a game programmer will be the same individual or a group of programmers. The reason for this is that it is one thing to say ”hey that guy can run through walls” and “inseam 32 of the game there seems to be a glitch in the programming of the HTML code (fill in the function string here) which needs to be addressed”.

It is true that there are game testers, which are paid to test the desirability and the playability of the game. They are not the primary individuals for catching programming glitches. This is done earlier on in the development of the game. Yet, to say that a game tester only plays games all day long and gets paid for it is a myth. The companies that have such game programmers generally do not pay them but offer a free version of the game when they do their beta testing.

Which Position Should I Choose?

When trying to figure out the perfect position, you will want to determine whether you’re right brained or left brained. Traditionally, right brained people are more creative and artistic in their way of thinking. These individuals will be more suited to the graphic and visual aspects of the game. Usually, these individuals do not have strong math skills but have very strong linguistic and creative skills. On the other hand, programmers generally have a more technical way of thinking, or more mathematical, and are straightforward in their thought process (which is left-sided as far as the brain is concerned).

Assessing which characteristics best fits your personality and then looking at and what salary best fits your financial expectations, you can determine which profession within the gaming industry to seek. Regardless of which position you choose ensure it is one that you love, and game

2 comments on “Game Development Salaries by Profession

  1. I was really amazed when I read this, It has a lot of information that can help us understand more about the gaming industry. Especially for me cause I am really interested in the online game tester job. Thanks a lot for giving information like this!

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