Develop Salary Survey: Average dev wage rises to ￡33,800
By James Batchelor
Things are looking up for games developers – and by ‘things’, we mean their pay packets.
Results from Develop’s latest annual salary survey shows that the decline of the past few years has been reversed, with the average developer earning ￡33,800.
It may not be as high as 2013’s average of ￡34,183 but it’s a significant rise from last year’s result – and our all-time low – of ￡31,882. It should be noted these are the median averages in order to ensure high earners and low-income indies did not distort the overall results.
As always, we have also disregarded any results below ￡14,000, as well as studio head and exec salaries above ￡100,000, to ensure our results are reflective of the majority of industry salaries. If we added those in, the median actually drops slightly to ￡33,000.
If we look at the mean average salary – again, with our aforementioned exemptions – the figure rises significantly to ￡38,023; the highest result in the last four years. Adding in all entries, it comes in even higher at ￡38,571.
The results are encouraging and could be a sign that the last few years of developer hardship are, for now at least, over.
We had more 386 developers from around the world complete our survey, and more than half of them – 54 per cent – are employed by larger, more established studios. 20 per cent work at micro studios with a staff headcount of 10 or less. The majority are also self-taught, or have learned through placements and experience, with only 38 per cent claiming to have games-related qualifications, such as a games design degree.
16 per cent of respondents were female developers, a promising rise from the 11 per cent that participated last year, and the pay gap between genders appears to be closing. The median average salary earned by female respondents was ￡32,000 – less than ￡1,700 behind the male result of ￡33,618.
Oddly, the gap reverses when we look at the mean average salary, with women well ahead at ￡42,382. The male mean average salary came in at ￡36,930. The most likely explanation for this is we are finally seeing more female developers in senior, exec and management positions.
Taking a look a little closer to home, the median average salary for UK developers is actually slightly behind the global figure at ￡30,000. If we look at the mean, it rises to ￡33,932 – just over ￡4,000 behind the worldwide average.
The US, however, is significantly above the global average salary, with the median result from all Stateside respondents coming in at ￡50,000. The mean rises even higher to ￡54,558. Again, this could be a result of more senior staff responding to our survey.
The higher global average is partially the result of the number of developers that received a pay rise in 2015. 66 per cent of participants reported that their salary rose over the past 12 months, up from the 60 per cent we reported last year.
This is expected to continue, with 65 per cent of staff confident that they will receive a pay rise by the end of 2016.
One in four of our respondents plan to change jobs this year, with a further 45 per cent stating that they hope to move elsewhere within the next five years.
That means just under a third – 30 per cent – are more than content with their current employer and have no intention of leaving.
‘New challenge’ and ‘financial renumeration’ were the most common reasons for considering a job change, at 26 and 24 per cent, respectively, while more than half of respondents – 53 per cent – said they would consider moving overseas.
The games industry appears to be an increasingly comfortable place to work, with tales of crunch and rough working conditions at a minimum. The vast majority of developers (78 per cent) work relatively normal hours – between 31 and 50 per week – with 42 per cent working a minimum of 41 hours. Only 4 per cent work more than 60 hours.
That said, nearly half – 42 per cent – say they are expected to work overtime regularly, with an alarming 78 per cent reporting they are not paid for these extra hours.
But this hasn’t sullied developers’ love for what they do.
80 per cent of respondents plan to stay in the games industry for the next five years, with 38 per cent saying they would ‘definitely’ stay, and 42 per cent saying it was ‘very likely’. Finally, 82 per cent said they were confident about their career in 2016.