The effects of the pandemic are hard to miss. Well, for me, one change or a hobby made my life better. I started playing video games, tons of them. I, Dead Space, Resident Evil, Minecraft, and my Logitech Z906 were usually the only companions in my basement. Out of boredom, this hobby made me a pro at video games; I stepped up and decided to learn how to make my own video games. I considered making it my career. However, one question was bugging me nonstop: how much money do video game designers make?
In this quest, I discovered that the average/entry-level video game designer makes USD $59,010 annually; however, a senior or lead programmer can earn more than USD $100,000+ per year. However, the average salary range for video game designers is between $85,197 and $102,660. This fact ignited my interest in becoming a pro video game developer. So, I researched, talked to other developers, and compiled data on how much money video game designers make. Welcome in advance, and I saved you the hustle.
How much do video game designers make?
I’ll keep it simple: an average entry-level video game designer earns at least $50,000- $59,010 yearly, and a senior or a lead video game designer makes almost $100,000+ annually. Hey! I don’t want to keep your hopes up. There are so many factors that contribute to how much video designers make.
It can be the studio’s location where you get the job, the size of their business, your experience, which platform you are developing for, and whether you are an individual contributor or a leadership role, etc. These factors contribute to how much a video game designer’s pay is determined in a company.
How Much Do Video Game Designers Earn by Experience Level?
I have already told you that your expertise and experience in this field matter. Let me give you an idea: video game designers rarely get promoted to leadership in their earlier work years. So, no need to get disappointed. However, the salary of any entry-level video game designer can increase as they get promoted to senior level or, luckily, get a bonus.
I have collected data from my experience, other game designers, and my incredible research to give you a raw idea about how much a video game designer makes.
Let’s have a look at how much you can make as a video game designer or a leader game designer:
|Video Game Designer Salary by Experience Level|
|Experience Level||Under 3 Year||3-6 Years||6+ year|
|Lead Game Designer||N/A||$72,000||$105,000|
The lead game designers mostly have over 3 years of experience; getting promoted before completing at least 3 years at the same workplace is rare and hard. Other than the required work time, the quality of work also determines how quickly they will get promoted.
Entry-level video game developers
Average Salary Range (U.S): $50,000-$180,000 annually.
Experience: The freshers, newcomers to freelancing, recent graduates, or individuals with little to less professional experience have less chance of earning well in this field.
The company merits you based on the value you provide through your experience and skills. Since you are at entry level, it’s evident that you do not have a deep knowledge of how to flow with projects. It is the main reason why the salary package of any entry-level video game developer ranges between $40,000 to $60,000 annually. According to ZipRecruiter, entry-level game developers earn between $89,000 and $148,000, and the top 10% of entry-level game developers make almost $100,500 to $171,500 per year.
- Average Salary Range: &70,000 – $120,000 annually.
- Top earners(90th percentile): $171,500 annually.
- According to ZipRecruiter, $89,000-148,000.
You need at least two or more years of experience to be called a mid-level video game developer. Although every company has its criteria, don’t be mad at me if you don’t get that title after completing your two years. Moreover, your salary may rise, but so do your responsibilities.
- Average Salary: $98,139 to $105,000 per year
- Years of experience: 10+ year
Senior video game designers or seasoned designers can get to this point of earning six figures. This leading role requires them to have in-depth industry knowledge and strong teamwork. It requires you to have additional skills, at least 3+ years of experience, and preferably 10+ years of experience. In the current year, the average salary of a senior video game designer is $89,425.
How Much Does a Video Game Designer Earn Based on Job Title?
Before you get all worked up, start wondering which job description suits your skill. Let me clarify that every company or project has its own video game designer’s requirements. Read their job description before applying for any video game designer job post. Here is the estimated salary package you can expect as a video game designer based on your job title:
|Video Game Designer Salary by Job Title|
|Associate Game Designer||$50,000||$65,000|
|Senior Game Designer or Lead Game Designer||$55,000||$105,000|
Firstly, I must clarify that this game development or designing field is vast. Secondly, multiple job titles are based on the required skills, experience, and exposure. However, according to my research, here are some of the highest-paying jobs in the game design industry:
|Job Title||Annual Salary|
|Lead Game Designer||$133,000–$166,000|
|Lead Level Designer||$98,500–$157,500|
|Senior Game Designer||$121,000–$150,000|
What Factors Impact Video Game Designer Salaries?
Similar to any other job, your experience and job title matter; however, other factors influence how much money a video designer makes. Every platform wants high-quality results, so you need more expertise to target the highest-paying video game designer’s job.
Your mere idea is not enough.
I was once at a point where my creativity was at its peak. I had ideas but not the required skills or projects. So, I used to think maybe my idea was enough to create an exceptional video game. But you are damn right; I was wrong. Don’t make the same mistake. Once hired as a video game developer, you must learn how to work with a team. What are the mutual goals that need to be accomplished? The entire team does not revolve around your mere idea, and you have to show creativity in whatever direction you are required to.
Experience and Expertise
Similar to other careers, the main factor influencing how much money a video game designer makes is their level of expertise. Let’s break down the facts quickly: the more you know, the easier it will be for you to solve the problem at hand, which means fewer mistakes. It creates a win-win situation for you, your team, and the company. So, how much you make as a video game designer depends on your experience.
The size of the company you are working for matters. Once you get at least 3+ years of experience from a renowned firm, switch to a broader canvas such as Unisoft, Electronic Art, Nintendo, Gameloft, etc. From my perspective, I can suggest to you a few good game companies you can work for. Here is the list of some who do care about their employees.
- Riot Games
- Naughty Dog
- Activision Blizzard
- Electronic Arts Inc.(EA)
- Take-two Interactive
- Epic Games
These are not the only ones you can target; go for the companies that align with your career goals.
The salaries of any video game designer vary significantly based on the location of the recruited company. Here are some examples of other cities that demonstrate the salary ranges of developers:
- Los Angeles, CA: $135,000
- Orange County: $134,000
- Washington DC: $130,063
- St. Louis, MO: $130,000
- San Francisco, CA: $142,031
- Marysville, WA: $137,964
- San Jose, CA: $137,541
- Fremont, CA: $137,300
You don’t have to rely solely on basic salary packages; based on your performance and its outcomes, you can also avail of royalties. Video game developers are rewarded with incentives and bonuses as well as royalties. If you get lucky to work on some blockbuster or AAA type of video games, there is a chance you may receive royalties.
To wrap up
There is no doubt about our passion for video game development; there is magic to this creation. However, I can’t deny that money matters! Before choosing any career, you need to evaluate it in all matters. Factors like how much a video game designer makes and what factors influence their salary. The salary of video game designers ranges from $85,197 to $102,660, or it can vary based on several factors, including the role, experience, location, and the size of the company. It’s an exciting and creative job, but make sure you have a well-articulated road map before you decide to embark on this industry.
How much money do video game designers make per month?
A video game designer makes almost $12,482 monthly in the United States. Their median wage is $6,000 per month.
How much money do video game designers make per hour?
In the United States, the average hourly pay of video game designers is $20.35. The hourly average wage rate is $45.76.
For entry-level video game designers, keep a rough average wage range of $26 to $76.
How much money do video game designers make a year?
The average yearly salary of video game designers can range from $95,185 to $149,794. Although, the factors like experience level, location, and success of the game determine the compensation and salary of video game designers. The entry-level video game designers earn almost $50,000 annually and senior level around $100,000 annually.