When we start developing games we usually want to create something that we’ve always wanted to play. Over time as you start practicing your skills, get your qualifications, and learn about the world of game development you will want to start earning money. But, you may quickly realize that it can be tricky to earn money while developing your dream game.
Game developers have several avenues through which they can earn money while developing their games, by working with other developers, getting crowdsourcing, working as a developer for other companies, or selling tools they created while making their game. These all have varying degrees of success and most young game developers quickly learn that working only on their project can be a challenge.
Game developers working in the USA at smaller companies typically earn $42-53k while larger companies typically offer $60-100k, both depending on experience level. In Europe, the pay range is generally €38k-48k, while in Canada it is $49-82k.
Many game developers will earn salaries when they work for larger production studios, while others are earning money by doing side hustles to support their game development. Some of the best games are made by smaller studios where a group of friends are all working to make their game a reality or get contracted to make a game for a larger studio.
What Do Game Developers Working For A Company Earn?
Heavily depending on the size of the company and your years of experience the average game developer can easily earn from $30000 to $100000 a year. With most entry-level positions paying on the lower scale; however, as you gain experience your pay levels will increase. Most game developers shift to work for different studios as this is what allows them to gain significant increases in their salaries.
Many indie game developers will earn a lot of fluctuating salaries until they release their first successful game and establish themselves as a developer in the industry. There are instances where developers start their studios and that either leads to a steady income stream from investors and sales, or, it leads to even more pay insecurity as the developer struggles to find investors, funding, and a following.
Why Is There Limited Positions For Game Developers?
While you can earn quite a hefty salary once you are employed at a larger studio, or once your game is a success, you may find that the gaming industry is a challenge to find work in. Many young game developers learn that they are unable to find a job doing what they want, usually having to sacrifice what they are doing to become something only slightly related.
Usually, game developers spend their first few years of programming doing basic stuff like programming websites, tech support, or even just programming other programs. These may not be where you want to be, but they will allow you to gain some experience, but you can still be left wondering why the gaming developer industry is so hard to enter.
- Low Demand: While the demand for games is always high, the demand for game developers in many parts of the world can be extremely low. Successful game studios are usually based in areas where others are, which means you might not find a job in your current city that has anything to do with gaming.
- Over Saturation: As a consequence of game studios only being in certain areas of the world, most game developers have flocked to these cities. This has created too many people that are qualified for a position, creating a market that has too many people to meet the demands of studios.
- Project Dependant: As new games are announced so do the number of people needed to work on them, many game developers are not permanent employees. Instead, they work with contracts, that usually end once a game has been completed, finding a permanent position is something that most game developers are constantly working towards.
- Skills Requirement: As technology, consoles, computers, and gaming engines transform so too will you have to improve. Your skills cannot stay the same, and this means that the studios will be requesting people with the required skills to do work. If you aren’t learning new things constantly then you won’t be able to get more work as the industry changes around you.
Where Should Game Developers Sell Their Games?
While you may be working for your dream studio or you are simply creating a game at home while working full time somewhere else you may be creating a game. Many indie developers do this while using crowdsourced money to simply publish their games. This is an easy way to get enough income to go create your own small studio full time.
However, whether you are creating your games for the fun of creating them, or you do hope for something much grander one day, you will have to know where to make some money off your games. Some of the best developers are usually just lurking around the world, quietly publishing games for free.
It may seem intimidating, but most games that are entered in competitions or are coded at competitions can gain quite a bit of fame. If you manage to win the game you instantly get a cash prize while many developers go one to polish their competition games and sell them on multiple platforms.
As a young developer gaming competitions can be quite intimidating, but they can be great ways to bot earn a lot of experience and find funding for your game. Sometimes, the first prize place is to have a game go into full development at a studio, which instantly allows you to give it all your love and attention.
Steam can make or break a game and they have shown support for many indie developers; however, it can be a challenge entering such a big market. As there are costs to having your game listed on Steam and there are quite a few regulations that you will have to adhere to. However, if your game is played by someone popular online or it simply starts becoming recommended to people then you will gain a large player base.
Just be sure you are ready with your game once you publish it to Steam and that most of the kinks are worked out, many games that are released into early access never leave it. If you are just a one-man band creating a passion project it may be better to list the game somewhere free.
Good Old Games (GOG)
Good Old Games is a platform where you can find almost any game you want and when you list your game on the platform there is the option to do so for free. This will allow you to gain some recognition and notoriety without having to spend any money on listing it. Many indie game developers have started doing this as this option allows them to gain everything they need.
Further, GOG has grown steadily in popularity, and with the function to link several gaming accounts it has become the go-to all-in-one center for many gamers that have multiple accounts. This means that your game will also have the chance to be seen by more people for free.
While there are many websites on the internet where you can easily list your game entirely for free, these usually come with a lot of bloatware and other issues. If you are only making games as a hobby then it would be fine, however, if you want to start profiting you can always start looking at the console markets.
Consoles are a market that always promises new things and as such many people have started to create games that are free to play even on these. This brings in many new players and allows the games to be seen while giving indie developers the chance to easily make a name for themselves. It should be noted though that making a game for consoles requires a lot more work and doing so alone can almost be impossible.
Making money as a game developer can be a challenge, however, once you have entered the industry with enough experience you will usually find yourself quickly moving through the industry. Many game developers get disheartened when they first start, realizing that the challenge of entering the industry can be too great, however, consistent work usually allows you to easily progress through it.