How much money can I earn making video games?
I love games and gamers! I am thinking very seriously about getting into the video game industry and I am definitely going to go to college. I know it is really popular and competitive and I am going to work hard and look around for any opportunity. When I get out of college what kind of money can I earn making games? How can I figure out if I will make enough going to pay off my college costs? Did you pay off your college costs with the money you make creating games (for video game professionals)? #money #computer-games #gaming #game-design #compensation
It's cool that you want to get into games - and I have to say it's a great career! It definitely has it's challenges, but for me that's one of the things I like about it.
There are lots of different aspects to game creation that you can be a part of, and because of this the compensation can vary widely.
There are entry level positions that you can get into with very little experience, especially if you have gone to college to study some aspect of video game creation. I studied Game Art and Design, and I was able to start working while I was still in college - first as an intern then later as an Associate Producer. There are also always QA positions available (testing) - jobs in QA are demanding and require attention to detail and meticulous documentation (so an engineer can find the problems that you are discovering and fix them). These entry level positions usually pay around $15 an hour or so, but that can vary greatly depending on the company that you are working for.
As you gain experience and ship some games, you can work your way up to more specialized positions. Salaries can range from $30,000 - $250,000 a year depending on a huge variety of factors, but most positions will find averages from $50,000 - $75,000. The magazine Gameinformer publishes an annual industry survey that includes average salary information by discipline - you should check it out!
As far as the investment of college goes - for me college paid off. I learned the skills that I use everyday, made valuable friends that have carried on to my professional network - I've even worked with some of my former instructors from college! I was able to pay my loans off within 5 years of graduating. I have been very lucky, but you can take advantage of luck with hard work.
Have fun out there!
Twen Samuel’s Answer
It really all depends on which area of videogame development you're interested in. You can take a look at a Game Developers Salary Survey that's done every year at: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/221533/Game_Developer_Salary_Survey_2014_The_results_are_in.php
This will give you a general overview of all the different disciplines of game development and their average annual salary.
I know many game developers, both artist and engineers that are making a decent living and slowly paying off their student debt.
That's a very broad question and salaries in the video games field cover a broad spectrum. On the low end, QA (quality assurance) testers may earn around minimum wage; while the high end of people still actually making the game (executive producers, etc.) can earn high six figure salaries or more. If you expand to executives, like CEOs and company presidents it will be on the order of millions. Programmers and artist may generally start around $30-50k for entry level positions depending on location and the company.
I recommend checking out a few websites to find more information:
Gamasutra is a good website for industry information
Gamasutra also has a career guide for the video game industry with a wide variety of resources and links
Glass Ceiling has a lot of data on specific job listings and salary ranges
there are a significant amount of roles involved in the creation of a game. it can can range from an artist role, to Quality Assurance, Quality Engineering, Project Management etc.
Have a look at Glassdoor and pick a company so that you have an idea of what the industry offers. link below
So as others have said it really depends, the games industry like every other has so many roles which fit under the umbrella of "making/doing X". I think the better question/answer may be that is the potential for future career progression or salary growth within an industry.
The games industry is relatively young and continues to break into different realms we're currently in the mobile game 'explosion'. So been involved in the games industry has the potential for exposure to changes in the tech stack very often which could then be used to move industry.
If you love something it makes doing the job a lot more enjoyable and this industry definitely has the scope to offer roles for people across the spectrum of skills (and ability levels).
You're young (probably) so thinking you'll be in the same industry until you retire is a very unlikely scenario, position yourself well for your industry of choice by your education choices but be prepared to change routes along the way.
You are definitely right that the video game industry is very competitive, and it can be hard to make a living off of.
The answer to your question about college costs is the same as for any profession: Make a budget. It can be hard to predict, but try to calculate how much money you will need to live off of. You can attempt to estimate major costs such as what your rent is likely to be, and should be able to contact your loan holder to find out what the monthly payments will be. Overestimate costs to be safe, and you will have a ballpark idea of how much you will need to earn.
The website glassdoor.com is a useful resource for looking at average salaries by title and location. It can help you get an idea of what to expect.
I am not a video game professional, so can't give more specific advice. I hope this is helpful.