Individual indie developers make considerably more money when they team up than when they work alone, according to new data from Game Developer Research's latest Salary Report
, which breaks down game industry salary information by discipline and demographics.
Of the surveyed developers who called themselves indies, including PC, iPhone, and other small-production game creators, roughly an equal amount said they make games alone as said they make games as part of a team, according to data exclusively provided to Gamasutra.
However, the average reported income disparity between those groups is significant: indie developers working alone reported an average income of $11,638 in 2009, while indie developers working with teams reported average personal income for the year of $20,248 -- nearly twice as high.
That strong contrast may partially reflect the difficulties one-man teams may have in marketing and monetizing their games. And, of course, many individual developers see monetization as a bonus rather than a strict necessity, particularly when they have other non-game revenue sources.
Indies in both groups listed the development areas to which they contribute during development. Fully three quarters said they contribute to game design, while two thirds said they write code. Production, art creation, and quality assurance were each listed by half of indies, while only a quarter said they contribute to audio.
Another group, independent contractors who do work on a per-project basis but are not employed by larger outsourcing firms, may fare the best among all independently-operating developers. They reported average income of $45,137, and were most likely to focus on art production.
The sample for the data was a group of 770 game developers who identified as indie developers or independent contracts and were not employed by outsourcing firms or traditional salary-based game studios.
Game Developer Research, a sister company to Gamasutra, recently published top-level highlights
from the study, including news of an overall 4 percent drop in mainstream game industry salaries to $75,573 - illustrating the pay gap between the indie and mainstream markets.
The full Game Developer Salary Survey 2005-2010 is now available for purchase from the official Game Developer Research site