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  • Are You in Demand?: 2006 Game Industry Salary Survey

    - Jill Duffy

  • progyrsProgramming

    Average salary for programmers/engineers with 3 or fewer years’ experience: $52,989.

    Programmers tend to have consistently strong starting salaries and are paid well relative to other positions in game development. In 2005 salaries for programmers with less than 3 years’ experience stayed nearly the same since 2004, indicating a steady need for entry-level programmers, but no wild boom in demand.

    Robin McShaffry, vice president of operations at, a game developer recruitment agency, agrees that there is a constant need for programmers and engineers. “Engineers are always in demand, both entry-level and experienced,” she says.

    Networking engineers, as well other “low-level, close-to-the-metal” engineers who have a deep knowledge of game development tools, are also typically in demand. Additionally, McShaffry recommends game programmers think outside the console box and explore options in sub-sectors of the industry, such as games for mobile phones, PCs, or casual players.

    “Wireless is really growing. We’re seeing a lot more demand for those who can handle Java and BREW, specifically BREW,” she adds.

    Although $50,000 a year sounds like a healthy starting paycheck, programmers are commonly ineligible for overtime pay (though some state laws vary), a contentious topic in the game industry, where putting in extra hours, even on weekends and holidays, is sometimes an unfortunate norm. (See “Unionize Now?” Game Developer, March 2005 for a complete discussion.)




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