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Game Development Salary Survey 2003
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Game Development Salary Survey 2003


February 10, 2004 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 2
 

Production

 

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.

Audio

 

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.

 


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Article Start Previous Page 2 of 2

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