How much do Game Developers Make Money per Year in the USA in 2023?

By: Mahmuda Afreen / Read more about us.

The gaming industry in the US is worth more than $250 billion in recent times which was only around $50 billion before 2020. We can predict that this industry will grow faster than ever in the next few years. About the salary of a game developer, it is at least 50% higher than the national average. Many cities in the United States pay a 6-digit figure to their game developer.

Furthermore, one will have to look below to know more about game developers make money per year. We have illustrated all the information by doing deep research.

The average annual income of a game developer in the USA will be $93,510 at the entry-level. With experience, this will increase to at least $138,068 per year. It is estimated that Santa Clara is the city with the highest wage rate which is $123,300. Moreover, the giant company Microsoft will be paying $152,273 per year.

game developer salary

Game Developers Make Money per Year

The world is changing fast and becoming a world of technology day by day. The world we are living in today was out of our imagination 20 years or 30 years before. Including education, job market trends, and the life of people, everything is changing and having a new turn. If we talk about the entertainment area for kids and adults, it was a different decade before. People used to play outdoor games and that was the only option. According to the recent study of ESA, nearly 227 million Americans play video games.

So, one can guess the number of video game players on both PC and mobile worldwide. It will be hundreds of millions. In the future, the number will get close to a billion. So, the demand for quality video games will increase. Also, with the development of Artificial Intelligence which is extremely related to this field, the future of the game industry is unstoppable.

However, in recent times the trend of video games is growing faster with popularity. In the future, this will reach the highest peak of popularity. Not in playing but in development too, this generation is so into the game and its development process. Many younger love to write, design, and built video games of different types with passion. They can show their imagination power, creativity, intelligence, and talent here.

If one love video game and feel passionate to make one, they must choose this career path. Because among all the job markets or the phase of earning, game development is one of the highest growing ones. It is expected that this will have more than $200 billion exceed by 2023 and double by 2024. This is one of the markets that will never go backward but forward. Because of the high increase in the demand for Virtual reality (VR), Argumental reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and e-sport, this is the ultimate career one can choose.

Also, the yearly salary of a game developer is quite tempting. On average a game developer will earn close to a software developer. According to the American Government, the minimum wage range of a game developer will be $44.96 per hour and $93,510 annually. However, this is just an estimated lower range for this position. People of different skill levels, education, and rule will have a different range of salaries. Some of the companies even hire a game developer of junior level offering a range that one cannot even imagine. It is all about the creativity and talent of the individual.

If one is still confused about the role of the game developer, they must know it before we go further. Specifically, a game developer is a person who will turn imagination and a story into a playable game. That game will have a visual interface, a responsible webpage, the ability for human interaction, and many more things.

game development working

Responsibility and skills have an impact on the salary of a game developer

The starting will be like, the video game designer coming up with a storyline, character, and an overall scenario. Then the team will of a developer, designer, and taster, and everyone will work together to make it come to life with visual details. This responsibility will require a Computer Science background, creativity, power of ultimate imagination, GUI design, graphic design, problem-solving capability, and one of the non-tech skills, being a team player. According to Coursera, the responsibilities of a game developer in an industry will be,

Responsibilities of a game developer1. illustrate new ideas for the game.
2. Turn the physical or visual idea into code.
3. Prototype, iterate, and polish gameplay Collaborate with designers, producers, artists, and quality analysts.
4. Monitor the stability across platforms of existing and update the game from time to time.
5. Test the existing game code and recommend changes.
6. Connect one game to another, and port features of one game to another.  

Moreover, the educational qualification and skill level of a game developer is a big fact that requires attention when one is hunting for that specific position and wants a high-paid job. One will have to remember that whatever the situation, they must have to have the skill and the ability to do all the work we have illustrated above. To perform all those tasks one will have to have at least a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science including,

1. Excellent knowledge of programming languages like C++, C#, JAVA, and Python and knowledge in framework languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

2. Excellent Knowledge of Machine learning, AI, Virtual Reality, algorithms, and so on.

3. Professional-level problem-solving skills.

4. Graphic design, GUI, UI, and other design skills.

5. Knowledge of 3D and 4D animation.

6. Knowledgeable of the game production process pipeline.

7. Creative and Analytical mindset.

8. Ability to think out of the box to solve new problems.

9. Wonderful team player as well as ability to work individually.

10. A good communicator.

These are the must skills that a game developer needs to have. Most of all, they will have to have excellent skills in programming languages, algorithms, machine learning, and AI to make something using those. one can have a look into the Harvard CS50 Game Development course to get the starting knowledge.

Also, this industry will require a wonderfully creative mind who can make up a story that will win the heart of the player. Playing the video game unorganized and playing in a story are a lot more different. According to the recent most popular game, we can say the game which has wonderful user interphase, graphics, and a story gets the most hype.

If a game developer has all those skills, he or she will earn the highest salary even if they do not have much industrial knowledge. We have already mentioned that skills are the most that matter here. Overall, with those qualifications, a game developer will earn at least $131000 annually or even more.

Game Developer Salary according to Experience level

Like every profession, the level of a game developer will have a different range of salary. Specifically, the entry-level developer with a minimum of skills will get the lowest amount of wage per year. Once one starts gaining knowledge and experience, the salary will increase. According to the data provided by a different game developer on Glassdoor, the salary range of different experience levels will be,

Experience LevelSalary
Entry Level$93,510
0 to 1 year$118,500
1 to 3 years$120,900
4 to 6 years$121,800
7 to 9 years$125,709
10 to 14 years$131,077
15+ years$138,068

We can see above, according to years of experience, the minimum salary of a game developer will increase. An entry-level game developer will earn an average of $93,510 yearly. Moreover, a developer with experience of more than 3 years can earn at least $120,900 annually.

Income of Game Developer Salary Based on Type

1st party Game Developer$92,000
Second Party game developer$99,000
Third-party game developer$120,000
Indie developer$89,710

A game developer who develops a game for a first-party or internally for a single console will earn at least $92,000 annually. The highest paid type will be the third-party developer or the developer who publishes their own game like Ubisoft. Their average earnings will be around $120,000 or more. Recently, Indie game developers are gaining popularity and they develop and publish games individually or as a group. As for their earnings or income, we should say, it is quite positive to attract a new developer to this field.

Cities that offer a high range of salary to the game developer

The United States is one of the hotspots for game developers since many growing companies are here. However, there is no official statistical analysis of the salary of a game developer in BLS. But companies are paying their developer a fair wage comparing another developing sectors like software developers. Let’s get the estimated data of the cities that pay high to game developers in the USA.

Santa Clara$123,300$10,275$2,371$59.28
San Francisco$119,287$9,941$2,294$57.35
San Jose$112,661$9,388$2,167$54.16
Maple Grove$109,513$9,126$2,106$52.65

We have driven the data illustrated in the table above from different third-party data sources. Also, from the information given by current game developers working in those cities. According to all the sources Santa Clara is the city that offer the maximum salary to the game developer. Because this city has a giant industry for game development like Apple game development, NVIDIA, and so on. Here this position will get an average of $123,300 annually and $10,275 monthly.

Among the top ten cities that paid well for this position, Maple grove is in the last position on our list. However, the salary this city offer is more than enough to lead a beautiful life here as a single person as well as a family.

Countries that offer a good amount of salary to the software developers

SwitzerlandCHF 121’307 or $127493
Denmark848090 KR. Or $ 116630
AustraliaA$126,048 or $88532
NorwayKr. 944 601 or $97661
Ireland€74,550 or $76326
UK£56,604 or $69119
Israel₪ 207,493 or $61261
New ZealandNZD$110,461 or  $69827
CanadaCAD$105,956 or $82843

Among all the countries except the USA that offer a high range of salary to the Game developer, Switzerland and Denmark are two of the country that offers 6 figure salary. Because of the fixed payroll rate of the Swiss government, the companies have to pay to maintain the rules. According to the different employers the average salary is around CHF 121’307 or $127493.

On the other hand, Canada, which is one of the developed countries in tech will offer the lowest range of salary on our list. However, the range is quite high if we compare the figure according to Canada’s economic situation and living expenses. A game developer will get an average of CAD$105,956 or $ 82843 annually.

Salary of Game developers offered by different companies

CompanySalary range
Rockstar Games$89,607
Electronic Arts$130,921
Riot Games$154,524
Naughty Dog$98,902
Activision Blizzard$96,235

There are hundreds of companies that are dedicatedly making a video games for both mobile and PC. Some of the companies are even that big that offer six-digit figure salaries to their game developers with mid-level experience. Among all the dedicated game developer companies Riot Games is one of the shining stars that offer an average salary of around $154,524 annually. This is one of the companies that offer a high range of salary.

Moreover, another tech giant Microsoft also offers a high range of salaries to their developers of video games. Those games are not of AAA level. Those games are dedicated to the device or system Microsoft. Ubisoft is another popular game developer company that gain popularity within a few years among game development job seekers. One may hear or play one of the popular games Pokémon, Nintendo is the developer of this game. They also offer a handsome salary to their employees which ranges from $87,180.

Recently, Amazon which is widely known as an eCommerce Company is putting its interest in the cloud and another tech side including video games. They have developed the game Crucible which has a great user experience, GUI, UI, and story. With that game, they have stepped into this industry offering an average salary of $135,425 which is more than decent comparing the worldwide scenario.

Developing a game is a brain cooking job so one needs to choose the company wisely. Working under pressure is okay. But working under too much pressure in a poor work environment is too much to take. So, one planning to step into this industry as a developer must choose the work properly and avoid companies who do not treat their employees properly.

After all those information one may have wondered about the best game developer. Well, there is tons of best game developer working behind the name of many big giant companies that we don’t know. They are the real heroes behind the heroes we adore in video games. So, it is hard to say who are the video game developers but we can enlighten some of them who have to expose themselves to the world.

Game Developers Make Money per Year
Game Developers Make Money per Year

Income of Popular Game Developer

Name of Game DeveloperIncome
Derek Yu5 million USD
Nicklas Nygren1.5 million USD
Corrinne Yu6 million USD
Ken Silverman1.5 Million USD
Yuji Naka1.4 million USD
Sid Meier4.5 million USD
Erin Robinson7 million USD

There are thousands of game developers in this world but some of them are ruling this industry seating on the throne. Among them. First, we will like to mention the name Erin Robinson, she is considered to be one of the best female influencers in the tech world. This Canadian game developer studied EEE and then step into this industry earning at least 7 million USD early or even more. According to some online sources, her net worth is more than 800 million USD.

Another world-famous game developer is Derek Yu is Asian American-based game developer. He is known for indie video game development but he works for some of the big giants. Estimated that he is worth at least 500 million net worth properties including his Twitter and Instagram.

At an end of this discussion, we will be illustrating the best video game for both PC and mobile including their worth.

Income of best video game for both PC and Mobile

Game NameNet Worth
PUBG$8 billion
Pokémon Go$1.9 billion
Elden Ring$6.85 billion
Monster Hunter Rise$395.66 million

There are many video games that have a net worth of over hundreds of millions like Star wars, ghostwire, hades, and many more. However, we have picked the top game with a net worth of billions and near to it. In recent times, the most popular video game on both PC and mobile is PUBG with a net worth of over $8 billion. Moreover, one of the all-time video gamesPokémon Go has had $1.9 billion worth in recent times.

One has already understood that the growth of this video game industry is on growing. According to the statistics of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gaming industry is growing by 7% this year and this will increase much more than other industries in near future.

If one has that confusion does this industry pays well to the game developer? Well, it is sad that the game developer does not earn much according to the afford and time they have to put into a game. They even work overtime to solve any specific issue in the game and do not get paid for it. If one compares it with the salary of software engineers, the salary is quite low. However, it is a satisfaction that the industry is growing and developers are getting what they deserve.

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