Almost 1,000 games industry professionals took part in our biggest ever salary survey

Develop Salary Survey 2012: The results



This year, our salary survey shows a sharp rise of seven per cent in the average UK games industry salary.

Last year we reported the number at £32,203 p.a. – this year it is £34,457 p.a.

For this number (and all the rest of the averages in this report) we’ve calculated the result using a median average, rather than a mean average, from 582 survey respondents working in development around the world out of the total number of 975.

A mean average would otherwise distort the numbers by including the group of very senior, and very well paid, studio bosses, CTOs, CEOs and creative directors who also kindly contributed. With those high-fliers included the average rises to £37,407.

By comparison, accounting for all answers from all industry personnel worldwide, (including retail, publishing, services, media and PR execs) the median average is £34,263 from 2011’s £28,932 (and the mean is up too, at £38,179 from £35,902).

So games development falls between these two figures – with the lower average most likely down to lower pay for retail, media and services, but the higher end distorted by good paypackets for marketing, PR and publishing staff. So while developers are better off than some, they aren’t better off than everyone.

Men VS Women

When the UK-only version of this survey was calculated for our sister title MCV, the most alarming point of discussion was a disparity in pay between what women and men earn.

British female game dev execs earned almost £3,000 a year less than their male counterparts.

Unfortunately a similar trend can be found in games development globally, with men earning a median wage of £34,608 p.a. and women earning £32,357 p.a.

However, that’s partially down to a lower proportion of female games developers relative to the total number of female games industry professionals in total.

35 out of 582 surveyed developers were women – just six per cent – whereas in the overall industry survey females accounted for almost 11 per cent of the respondents.

Currently, female professionals in the games industry are slightly more likely to work in retail, sales and publishing roles, and not in development itself.

That said, there is one disappointing statistic: no female developers said they earned £90,000 or over – but 18 men surveyed said they did.

Examining the answers from female developers we did get, however, and there are some disappointing anecdotal trends.

The biggest cluster of female games developers surveyed were designers – a third of all women surveyed. They were all aged 22 to 39. Their median salary is £26,944 p.a. (taking into account answers from junior, mid-level and senior designers).

Versus the comparable 89 male designers surveyed, across both a similar geographical and age spread, the median salary was £31,935.

The real kicker is this: the women surveyed were slightly more experienced than the men, with an average of three-to-five years’ experience versus the men’s two-to-three.

Our sample may be too small to make any broader conclusions, however – but this is genuine pause for thought.


Lead Artist: £38,636 p.a.
Artist: £26,707 p.a.
Junior Artist: £18,055 p.a.


Lead Programmer: £44,868 p.a.
Programmer: £34,166 p.a.
Junior Programmer: £20,000 p.a.


Lead Audio: £42,000 p.a.
Entry level audio role: Starting at £19,318 p.a.


Lead Producer: £52,941 p.a.
Producer: £36,563 p.a.
Producer (External/Publisher-employed):
Junior: £27,500 p.a.
Senior: £41,875 p.a.

Lead Designer: £36,848 p.a.
Designer: £25,300 p.a.
Junior Designer: £19,772 p.a.

Senior QA Manager (3+ years exp): £24,286 p.a.
QA & Testing Exec (client side): £18,676 p.a.
QA Basic: £15,200 p.a.


HR Exec (senior): £36,000 p.a.
Middleware: £40,313 p.a.
Biz Dev: £55,000 p.a.
CTO: £55,357 p.a.
Creative Director: £60,455 p.a.
Studio Director: £65,500 p.a.
MD/CEO: £88,750 p.a.


The other 400 or so respondents of our salary survey predominantly hailed from the UK trade, answering as readers of sister magazine MCV. Here’s the results for salaries in non-games development roles, for reference and comparison:


Store Manager: £19,722 p.a. (UP 13% YOY – 2011: £17,500 p.a.)
Shopfloor Staff: £13,571 p.a. (UP 4% YOY – 2011: £13,000 p.a.)

Distribution Executive: £33,333 p.a. (DOWN 13.5% YOY – 2011: £38,570 p.a.)
Creative & Promotional Services: £33,000 p.a. (DOWN 1.5% YOY – 2011: £34,285 p.a.)
QA & Testing Exec: £18,676 p.a. (DOWN 11% YOY – 2011: £20,830 p.a.)


Senior PR Exec: £36,500 (NO CHANGE YOY – 2011: £36,429 p.a.)
PR Executive: £27,500 (UP 10% – 2011: £25,000 p.a.)
Junior PR: £18,333 (DOWN 15% – 2011: £21,500 p.a.)

Senior Management: £71,429 p.a. (NO CHANGE YOY – 2011: £71,563 p.a.)
Marketing Director: £60,000 p.a. (New data for 2012)
Marketing Manager: £40,714 p.a. (UP 9% YOY – 2011: £37,188 p.a.)
Product Manager: £28,958 p.a. (DOWN 2.5% – 2011: £29,643 p.a.)
Sales Manager: £38,281 p.a. (DOWN 7.5% – 2011: £41,364 p.a.)
Senior External Development: £53,750 p.a. (NO CHANGE YOY – 2011: £53,750)


Editor: £25,000 (New data for 2012)
Section Editor: £20,000 (DOWN 17% YOY – 2011: £24,166 p.a.)
Staff Writer: £17,065 (DOWN 4.5% YOY – 2011: £17,885 p.a.)

About MCV Staff

Check Also


London among the worst cities in the world if you want to pursue a career in tech, says study

London is one of the worst cities in the world to live in if you want to pursue a career in a tech-based field, according to a new study