Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
Game Development Salary Survey 2003
View All     RSS
February 22, 2020
arrowPress Releases
February 22, 2020
Games Press
View All     RSS

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Game Development Salary Survey 2003

February 10, 2004 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 2



Game production has undergone maturation along with the rest of the industry in the past few years. Whether working internally or externally, producers are an essential interface between the development team and the business of making games. Charged primarily with keeping a project on schedule and on budget, producers’ proximity to the bottom line is reflected in higher salaries than many of the creative disciplines of development. Experienced executive producers, whose responsibilities would include management and development of a franchise comprising multiple titles, commanded the highest salary average for disciplines reported by years of experience in our survey.

Defining and securing top production talent can be a challenge for studios. Schools and universities don’t focus their educational programs on production, and the knowledge and experience needed are hard to find in those not already in the game industry. Many producers still work their way up the ladder through design and quality assurance.

Quality Assurance


This year is the first that we’ve included QA salaries in our survey results, a reflection of both the role the test department plays as proving grounds for future development talent and the increasing significance of the QA function in meeting high consumer expectations and minimizing returns and support costs. No longer confined to the production domain of bug-hunting, testers are expanding into more significant territory of usability and focusgroup testing to help ensure higher customer expectations are met.

A scant 14 percent of our survey respondents reported being in QA more than six years, the smallest proportion at this experience level by far of any discipline. On one hand this figure underscores QA’s role as a springboard for other development careers, while on the other hand it points to a dearth of substantial experience in this increasingly vital function.



The current generation of consoles have given the audio community some of what they’ve been asking for for years: processor time, some storage space, and most of all, respect. The skyrocketing popularity of home theater has quickly catapulted game audio delivery from tin-can PC speakers rattling on a desktop to digital surround inundating players’ living rooms. Dolby and DTS technologies are now big selling points for games, and even THX began offering audio certification for games this year.

Industry consolidation has enabled sizeable audio departments to be established at some of the larger studios, but much of the game audio workforce remains in gun-for-hire form. It’s a fiercely competitive business, but half our survey respondents have been at it for six or more years, the highest percentage of any development discipline. Obviously there is some payoff for persistence in the audio game.


General Trends


This year’s overall salary picture includes QA personnel for the first time, which complicates making direct comparisons to previous years’ average salary figures across all respondents; however, some relational data highlights interesting trends.

Women respondents made up 7 percent of the total, a slight increase from prior years. However, their salaries on average continue to lag behind their male counterparts’, at 87.4 cents on the dollar, a slight dip from the 89 cents on the dollar reported in our 2002 survey. Conversely, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the national male-female wage gap narrowed slightly in 2002 to 78 cents on the dollar, up from 76 cents in 2000.

The West Coast continues to be a hotbed of game development, with employer competition driving up salaries relative to other regions. The top five states represented in our survey were, in order: California, Washington, Texas, Illinois, and Massachusetts.



Article Start Previous Page 2 of 2

Related Jobs

Purdue University
Purdue University — West Lafayette, Indiana, United States

Assistant Professor in Game Development and Design
Vicarious Visions / Activision
Vicarious Visions / Activision — Albany, New York, United States

Senior Software Engineer
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Gameplay Programmer
Airship Syndicate
Airship Syndicate — Austin, Texas, United States

Mid to Senior Programmer

Loading Comments

loader image