Game Programmer Salary Guide and Career Outlook

Computer game programming ranks among the best-paid jobs in the industry. The median game programmer salary is $62,844 per year in the US, $50,964 in Canada, $32,136 in the United Kingdom, R30,000 in South Africa, and $55,000 in Australia and New Zealand. They design, write and implement the entire code infrastructure that makes video games work. It requires expert programming skills and an excellent knowledge of gaming principles and practices.

A game programmer salary ranks high even in the IT&C industry due to the complexity of the job. Also, there is a very high demand for better games and always will be. However, it can vary, depending on the country and company they work for.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make per Year by Country?

Game Programmer Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand* India South Africa
Hourly Pay $20.00 C$19.00 *E16.73 *AU$28.64 NZ$ 28.64 Rs 261,56 R 15.62
Annual Pay $62,843 C$50,964 E32,136 AU$55,000 NZ$ 55,000 Rs 502,200 R 30,000

*These figures are estimated based on the other pay information given. This assumes a 40 hour work week.

make a game programmer salary

Game Programmer Salary Influencing Factors

A game programmer salary varies in accordance with three main influencing factors: location, industry, and experience. Even more, the company they work for can highly affect their pay.

1. Location

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in the US?

The United States is arguably the most popular destination. Annually, the game programmer salary ranges between $42,253 to an impressive $100,385. In addition, they can receive high bonuses between $1,1014 and $29, 590. Their hourly rate goes between $7.06 and $40.27, with the potential of overtime pay of $50.00.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in Canada?

In Canada, the game programmer salary goes between C$38,804 to C$89,384 per year and a bonus of $1,965. However, the hourly pay rate stays at an average of C$19.65 with overtime pay of C$21.80.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in the UK?

Annually, a game programmer in the UK makes between E19,309 to E47,010. Additionally, they can earn a bonus of $1,024. Their hourly rate has a median of 16.73, though the overtime pay may very strictly dependent on the company.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in Australia?

The game programmer salary ranges between AU$32,241 and AU$74,497 in Australia, with a potential bonus of AU$2,069. The hourly rate pay estimates at around 28.64 with overtime pay depending on the company.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, the media game programmer salary ranges NZ$49,000 and NZ$80,000. Their hourly pay is estimated at NZ$28.64 as well, with potential for overtime.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in India?

The video game programmer salary goes between Rs 193,785 and Rs 1,154,053 in India. However, they have a potential bonus of Rs 6,500 with an hourly rate estimated at Rs 261,56.

How Much Does a Game Programmer Make in South Africa?

In South Africa, their pay ranges between R8,000 and a high R35,000 per year. It depends strictly on whether the company is established or not.

2. Experience

Experience matters a great deal in computer video game programming. Salaries can rise by as much as 70% between an entry-level position and a senior programmer position. Special design skills and additional programming languages are also an important plus. As a computer game programmer, you will be asked to work in a team. It’s crucial to constantly communicate with fellow developers, like computer programmers, and other team members. Experience in working on gaming projects can, thus, be a major advantage for starting with a higher salary.

Previous experience as a game designer will also play a major role. As in other industries, game design companies prefer to keep skilled individuals inside, rather than hire somebody new. So, be mindful of the competition. Make sure that you have first maximized your chances before moving on to a top job in the sector.

3. Industry

How much do game programmers make mostly depends on the company they work for. World-class gaming and game design companies like Blizzard Entertainment and EA will pay their game programmers with at least the high median game programmer salary. In addition, they will certainly offer more if they are particularly skilled and proficient.

The gaming market, however, also includes many smaller companies, such as Telltale Games. They have dedicated fan bases and also pay their programmers very well. As programming is an essential part of the game design process, you can expect to find a good game programmer salary in many such companies.

Overall, the gaming industry is still booming in the world. A large number of jobs available in the sector at any given time.

Schedule & Working Hours

Usually, a game programmer works standard 40 hour weeks, with a normal 8h day schedule. However, longer hours might be required in some conditions. This is especially when the company works on an important game or a new release. In order to meet game release deadlines, game developers sometimes work very long hours and even weekends, to make sure that the product is perfect, without bugs and glitches.

Depending on the scale of the project and on the company’s policy, some can work from home. However, due to the constant need to communicate with other team members, game programmers usually work at the company offices.

Game Programmer Salary by State

Below, we have prepared a table containing the game programmer salary across the US:

State Annual Mean Wage
Alabama $99,000
Alaska $72,000
Arizona $80,000
Arkansas $99,000
California $104,000
Colorado $86,000
Connecticut $101,000
Delaware $85,000
District of Columbia $95,000
Florida $95,000
Georgia $98,000
Hawaii $70,000
Idaho $68,000
Illinois $96,000
Indiana $93,000
Iowa $95,000
Kansas $89,000
Kentucky $84,000
Louisiana $87,000
Maine $86,000
Maryland $100,000
Massachusetts $100,000
Michigan $98,000
Minnesota $85,000
Mississippi $102,000
Missouri $96,000
Montana $81,000
Nebraska $71,000
Nevada $78,000
New Hampshire $96,000
New Jersey $103,000
New Mexico $85,000
New York $102,000
North Carolina $93,000
North Dakota $86,000
Ohio $93,000
Oklahoma $90,000
Oregon $94,000
Pennsylvania $94,000
Puerto Rico $94,000
Rhode Island $89,000
South Carolina $96,000
South Dakota $73,000
Tennessee $90,000
Texas $94,000
Utah $78,000
Vermont $86,000
Virginia $98,000
Washington $101,000
West Virginia $92,000
Wisconsin $87,000
Wyoming $85,000
US $90,137
Average Hourly Wage $25

Career Outlook

The game programmer salary is expected to grow slowly but steadily for the foreseeable future, with an overall 6% increase expected until 2024. This is owed to increasing demand for more performant computer games. It can match the newest hardware on the market, but also due to a growing general interest in computer games.

However, this means that competition will be strong. Only good programmers will get jobs in high-ranking companies such as Blizzard or Activision. However, a game programmer school can help. You can improve your chances in this sector by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in game design. This will have a great positive impact on your chances of actually landing a job in the sector and start getting experience.

Once hired, you can expect your salary to grow, based on your performance and accumulated experience. If you are lucky to work on a major game or an important project,  you might get generous bonuses.

Conclusion

Becoming a game developer can be a very smart career choice if you are good at programming and passionate this field. The median game programmer salary is very attractive, and career development options abound. Finally, computer programming is also highly rewarding, especially when your company manages to create an exquisite game.

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