Revealed: Average game developer salary falls to £32,500

Revealed: Average game developer salary falls to £32,500
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

January 30th 2014 at 2:45PM

After hundreds of developers filled in our salary survey, we’ve crunched the numbers to investigate whether new platforms, business models and the rise of indies have caused havoc on earnings

This year, our salary survey shows a decline of over £1,600 in the average global games developer annual earnings.

Last year we reported the number at £34,183. This year we have calculated the figure at £32,500, a significant drop.

The decline is likely down to a slump in the UK games market, and the rise of the indie development scene. Of the 380 developers who responded to our survey and included their salary, 145 (38.2 per cent) of those said they belonged to an ‘indie company’, while 235 (61.8 per cent), said they were part of a big firm.

To ensure the results were reflective of industry salaries, we took out income below £14,000, and studio head and executive salaries over £100,000.

Including all entries, such as part-time indies who reported relatively low earnings and those at the top-end of the scale, the median average ‘salary’ for developers falls to £31,856.

Interestingly, the mean average for developers across the globe is £37,104 – up from 2012’s figure of £36,523.

Despite a lower average salary than the past two years for developers around the globe, it is still up from 2011’s low point of £32,203.

The media average salary for UK developers is £30,000, while the mean average comes in at £33,687.

To calculate the results, we asked readers of Develop and sister title, MCV, to submit details on their job earnings, as well as answer questions on their feelings about the future, working hours and job satisfaction.

687 devs filled in the survey. Of these, 442 were from the UK. The annual salary amount was calculated using a median average to ensure senior contributors did not distort the results, such as those well-paid execs.

Despite a drop in the average global annual developer salary, the total is up from the average game industry pay. Including those from publishing, services and retail sectors. Again without those well-paid execs and indies with relatively small earnings, the world average median salary is £30,896. This is lower than last year’s £32,008, but still up from 2011’s low of £28,932.

So while the average salary may have dropped, in part due to an apparent contraction of the UK industry, the development sector is still coping better than its counterparts despite sea changes in the way it operates.

Profession breakdown

Art

Global Average
Lead artist - £34,871
Artist - £30,074
Junior artist - £18,495

UK Average
Lead artist - £36,927
Artist - £28,818
Junior artist - £19,143

AUDIO

Global Average
Lead audio - £55,385
Entry-level audio role - £25,328

UK Average
Lead audio - £58,166
Entry-level audio role - £28,083

CODING

Global Average
Lead programmer - £46,912
Programmer - £35,839
Junior programmer  - £21,402

UK Average
Lead programmer - £48,938
Programmer - £33,617
Junior programmer - £21,538

DESIGN

Global Average
Lead designer - £40,279
Designer - £27,479
Junior designer - £18,982

UK Average
Lead designer - £38,590
Designer - £26,375
Junior designer - £18,236

Production

Global Average
Lead producer (Internal) - £57,170
Producer (Internal) - £33,179
Production director - £65,562
Production co-ordinator - £41,315

UK Average
Lead producer (Internal) - £56,667
Producer (Internal) - £32,693
Production director - £61,750
Production co-ordinator - £26,000

Quality Assurance

Global Average
QA lead - £22,891
QA role    £14,673

UK Average
QA lead - £22,700
QA role - £14,393

Management

Global Average
Managing director/Studio head - £90,704
Creative director - £79,333
Development director - £57,031
Business development - £44,976

UK regional breakdown

Scotland - £27,622
North West - £29,320
North East - £30,697
Yorkshire & Humberside - £25,112
West Midlands - £30,985
East Midlands - £27,125
East of England    - £30,109
South West - £31,353
South East - £33,347
London- £39,426