2011 was a pretty flat year, according to the findings of Game Developer magazine’s annual salary survey of industry professionals. Salaries were calculated and compared across discipline, region, experience level and gender from 2,500 interview-ees (out of 4,000 respondents). 66% of respondents netted a higher income than last year (up from 56% in last year’s survey), the average yearly salary within mainstream production evening out at $81, 192 (compared to 2010’s $80, 817).
Programmers netted another large pay jump across the hierarchy – $85,733 in 2010 to $92,962 in 2011 – with entry-level talent (1-3 years experience) netting an impressive $10, 700 average increase. Design positions (defined as Designers, Writers, and Creative Directors) also saw an evenly spread gain, moving from $70,223 to $73,386, with lower levels seeing the biggest year-over-year gain, around $3,500. Animators felt a similar expansion – $71,354 to $75,780 – but most gains went to high level Directors and Leads.
The comparatively small discipline of Audio professionals had the largest salary gains over last year, going from $68,088 to $83, 182.
Producers’ average salary dropped to $85,687 from last year’s $88,544, the harshest cuts going to those with 3-6 years of experience (-$4,900) followed by 6+ years (-$3,300). It’s worth nothing that female producers (approx. 16% of the discipline) actually saw an average increase in pay. While the Executive class still boasts the largest paycheck, it dropped from $106,452 in 2010 to $102,160 this past year, with the most experienced making $8,000 less and the greenest businessman seeing an average increase of $14,000. And, unsurprisingly, the lowest paid discipline saw salaries slashed even further in 2011. Both Quality Assurance Leads and Testers averaged a drop from $49,009 in 2010 to $47,910 in 2011, although less experienced QA’ers earned slightly more than last year on average.
An overall expected set of statistics, it is intriguing to see that most year-over-year gains went to newcomers across the board. The only publicly available industrial survey of its kind, the full results of the 2011 Salary Survey can be found in the April issue of Game Developer.