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Game Design Salary Expectations

Game Design Salary Expectations

If you are looking to start a career in game design, you may be curious about the money you can make. Getting a degree in any field is all about eventually getting a job, so before you make the decision to jump into game design, salary can be a big part of your decision making. Everyone knows the economy is all out of sorts, but what does that mean for prospective game designers and, more specifically, what does that mean for you?

Fortunately, the slow economy has only had a slight effect on the gaming industry. Graduates and industry professionals are still in demand and receiving generous salaries. Like many careers, your earnings with a game design degree can vary greatly depending on ability and experience. Comparatively speaking however, game designer salaries are above average, with the typical entry-level designer earning between $49,000 and $75,000 per year.

This is due to the valuable and detailed skills required to be a successful game designer, and the time and training it takes to acquire those skills. Going to school for a degree in game design is the first step towards that success. Getting a degree in game design may be the factor that lands you the big bucks.

Below is a breakdown of average salaries:

Game Design Salaries By Job Title:

Video Game Animators

One of the more popular specialties of game design, the animation field has expanded recently due to the advent of 3D and interactive games. Animators are responsible for bringing the characters to life. They animate an entire world for the gamers to explore. Top graduates from highly ranked schools can expect to earn an above-average salary out of college, but due to large competition most graduates will find offers for assistant positions at $35,000 – $45,000/year. The average animator/artist salary is $75,000 annually*. It is beneficial of any prospective game animator to enroll towards a career in game design.

Video Game Sound Designers

For those with a passion for both music and video games, audio designing (also known as sound designing) is the perfect route. A video game sound designer works not only with the soundtrack of a game, but can also be heavily involved with the voice actors of a project and with creating the auxiliary sounds in the game.  Salaries range drastically depending on experience. The niche has been growing recently though, making now the perfect time to get in. The average audio designer salary is $71,000 annually*. The tools possible to be a capable video game sound designer can be acquired by attending a game design school.

Video Game Designers

One of the most highly sought-after and competitive fields in the industry, game designers/developers get to develop the overall concept of the game, as well as oversee the process of making that concept a reality. They work on crafting the systems that make a game run and they work on nearly every aspect of the game development process.  Game designers are rewarded for their hard work with quality pay: the average annual salary is $83,000*. The only way to truly optimize your chances at becoming a game designer at a big studio is to get a degree in game design!

Video Game Programmers

Video game programmers receive on average a higher salary than other gaming industry jobs. With new, more advanced game consoles hitting the market every few years, C++ programmers (the most commonly used game programming language) are in high demand. These programmers are behind the computers, working hard to make these games run smoothly. With new technologies and new programming languages popping up, the market is growing. The average salary for game programmers is $85,000 per year*.

Video Game Producers

Game producers have extensive experience in multiple areas of game design. These guys fund major projects while being heavily involved with the creative process, overseeing the design process. Most have managed a handful of successful projects, and can expect to earn on average $59,000 annually*. Becoming an executive producer is often the next pursuit for experienced project managers. With salaries averaging at $99,000 per year*, it’s no wonder why!

Video Game Testers

Involved in the latter part of the game development, game testers are trained to identify glitches, evaluate level ratings, provide user-experience feedback and give a final proof of the game. Though a degree isn’t always required, game testers need to be focused and observant, with great spelling and grammar skills. The average annual salary for game testers is $25,000*. Those who stick with it and climb the ladder to become a quality assurance leader are rewarded with salaries averaging $38,000 per year*.

*According to

Game Design Salaries by Top Employers:


  • Lead Artist: $123,000 – $175,000*
  • Video Game Producer: $50,000 – $92,000*
  • Sr. Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer: $83,000 – $120,000*
  • Design Specialist: $43,000 – $108,000*

Electronic Arts (EA)

  • Graphic Artist: $58,000 – $88,000*
  • Game Tester: $29,000 – $44,000*
  • Multimedia Artist or Animator: $62,000 – $85,000*
  • Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer: $50,000 – $130,000*
  • Sr. Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer: $80,000 – $149,000*
  • Software Quality Assurance Lead Tester: $40,000 – $55,000*
  • Video Game Designer: $40,000 – $86,000*
  • Video Game Producer: $59,000 – $116,000*


  • Software Engineer: $56,000 – $95,000*
  • Game Tester: $10.67/hour*
  • Game Senior Artist: $55,000 – $60,000*
  • Senior Director: $156,000 – $169,000*

Sony Online Entertainment

  • Sr. Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer: $90,000 – $126,000*
  • Game Designer: $45,000 – $83,000*
  • Graphic Artist: $42,000 – $75,000

Take-Two Interactive

  • Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer: $68,000 – $175,000*
  • Programmer: $78,000 – $121,000*
  • Motion Capture Animator: $63,000 – $69,000

Ubisoft Entertainment

  • Artist: $39,000 – $55,000*
  • Programmer: $42,000 – $75,000*
  • Sr. Programmer: $62,000 – $99,000*


  • Narrative Designer: $62,000 – $90,000*
  • Product Manager: $80,000 – $160,000*
  • Software Developer: $82,000 – $89,000*
  • Software Engineer: $60,000 – $140,000*

*According to

To get a job at any of these locations, you essentially need a game design degree. To make the big bucks, you need all the knowledge and experience possible and most game design schools will give you that!

Get information on game design degrees using the form on this page. School representatives will guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have about the various programs that are available to help you earn your game design degree.

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