Game Developer Salary

Never undersell yourself

A Game Developer can be an exciting and creative, as well as a highly technical role. With the current high demand for video games, developers are certainly in demand, making this an excellent choice of IT career for people interested in coding and Computer Science.

However, there are obviously various levels of seniority in the Game Developer business and the more relevant experience you have, the greater chance you will have of succeeding. 

What do Game Developers Do?

You should know that ‘Game Developer’ is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of roles that go into designing a video game.

For instance, a more technically minded person can work as a programmer, whilst if you have more of a creative or design-based background you could work as a designer for graphics and gameplay.  As an IT professional however, you will most likely be working on the programming side, alongside the designers to develop the look and movement of a character.

There are also lower-level positions, such Game Tester roles, but these will attract a lower salary level. Because the number of roles in game developing can be confusing and intersectional, we’ve made it easy for you by listing all the potential roles you can apply for, which are ranked by level from the lowest to the most senior (and thus highest paid) positions.

Quality Assurance Tester

Level: Entry Level/Graduate

The infamous role which has been misinterpreted as ‘playing video games for a living’, is an important role in determining how user-friendly a video-game is. Despite the fact that you will indeed be spending the majority of your time playing games, you must also possess a deep and precise understanding of what makes a good video game. You must also be able to communicate well, as you are expected to relay your experience and suggest improvements.

Salary: £18,000-£55,000

When you first start working, you will be earning wages on the lower end of the spectrum. However, as quality assurance testers are usually part of a team or a department, and you can work your way up to Lead Tester or Manager, where you will see your salary more than double.

Junior Programmer 

Level: Graduate

As a game programmer, you are the engine that makes the games work. You come up with and write the computer code that runs the game: everything from the gameplay to the menu interfaces. There are various niches you can specialise in, such as 3D design, user interface and AI design.

C++ skills and a strong grasp of mathematics are the most common requirements for a junior programmer.

A large proportion of junior programmers are recent graduates, most preferably in computer science, maths or physics. However, some previous experience working in the gaming industry will be an advantage.

Salary: £19,000 to £25,000

If you are a graduate programmer, or someone who is learning on the job, your yearly earnings will average around £20,000, depending on the company and your experience. However, when you become more comfortable in your profession and start moving up the ranks, you will start earning around £23,000-£25,000.

Lead Game Programmer

This role will only be open to you after you have been working in the industry for a number of years, long enough to make decisions and lead a team of programmers. As a lead programmer, you are basically in charge of ensuring that the programme for the game is executed successfully and is delivered within budget. That is a lot of responsibility!

However, it is a creative and challenging role, as you will be working with the design and art departments to ensure that the game that you envision will come to life as planned.

Salary: £35,000-£50,000+

Again, the salary levels vary quite a bit depending on the company, as well as your experience. For instance, you will mostly likely earn more if you have previous experience managing a leadership role in game programming.

Similarly, larger and more globally successful game companies such as Ubisoft or Blizzard Entertainment, will inevitably have a higher salary than smaller companies for indie or mobile games.

In conclusion, we can see that with an industry that is varied and global as it is, your salary as a game developer can massively vary depending on your seniority and the company you’re with. However, with the right skills and interest in video games and creativity, you will see yourself climbing up the ranks.

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