Game Developer | Job Profile, Requirements, Salary in US and Worldwide

Since we started playing video games over 35 years ago, I have had many ideas for new games. Unfortunately, my skill set is more about organizing and conceptualizing products, and my programming skills never really developed.

Without programming, there are no games, right?

Games today don’t just need programmers, but without specialized developers, no game idea would come into reality. So, among many other jobs, game developers are central to the success of a game.

In this post, you will get answers to the questions

  • What game developer do daily
  • What you need to become a game developer
  • How much money you can earn as a game developer in the USA 
  • How much money you can earn worldwide
  • What the future perspectives are

Without further delay, let’s dive into this exciting job profile.

Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.

What Does a Game Developer or Video Game Developer Do?

In general, a Game Developer is responsible for developing and implementing game ideas and creating the corresponding documentation. Typically, a game developer is part of a team of other developers and other designers.

They work closely with the Lead Developer, Game Designer, and Executive Producer.

Now, of course, you’re wondering what exactly a game developer does all day long.

Top 3 Tasks of Game Developer in Detail:

Creation of detailed concepts including presentation

Programmers can’t be as introverted as they were portrayed in the 80s as nerds in the basement with pizza.

In close coordination with the executive producer and the game designer, a game developer derives the granular concepts from the rough concepts using his ideas and methods.

For each of these small implementation tasks, a programmer has a huge toolbox at his disposal. And, of course, all solution paths have advantages and disadvantages.

Your design decisions can affect performance or financial resources.

For example, using a specific feature of the graphics engine might entail a different, more expensive licensing model. However, this can pay off if it raises the graphics standard to the level of comparable games on the market.

Your decisions are so formative and essential that you have to present and approve your solutions on an ongoing basis.

If you are particularly innovative with new technologies, you will often present to the highest management how you intend to implement a game element.

But even if you use standard components, you have to inform about your implementation on a weekly basis, especially in agile programming frameworks.

Creation of structured and efficient game development documents

A good developer can document his results so well that a non-developer can understand all the functions in the code.

It is absolutely vital that other developers could continue working seamlessly using your documentation.

In larger projects, it is common that the composition of development teams can change at any time. As a result, it is constantly re-evaluated whether your skill set might be better used to implement another function.

Also, very often, priorities shift, and you may need to support another development team temporarily.

If then the documentation is not perfect and maybe the person with the primary knowledge is not present or even worse has left the company, then good night.

Implementation of Game Ideas and Functions

I admit, this task is not surprising.

This is the core of your job.

The game designer comes up with an idea. Then, together with the lead developer and various designers, the implementation is discussed, and then it’s your turn.

It is important to coordinate closely with your clients, mainly the lead developer, and with colleagues from the supporting design teams.

Your implementations go hand in hand with visual and audible elements.

In addition, there are always the basic topics of performance and security. And of course, quality should always be a top priority in your implementation.

Nobody likes bugs, right?

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What Are The Requirements to Become a Game Developer?

In general, a game developer must master three core skills: the transfer of a functional requirement into a technical implementation, excellent communication and documentation, and the constant willingness to learn new technologies and methods.

Of course, there is a lot more to it than that. Therefore, we classify this into four packages, which a game developer must bring along as a prerequisite:

Degree of a Game Developer

Excellent programmers educate themselves. Then, with a passion for programming and a love of gaming, you’ll quickly learn all the skills the job requires.

There are, of course, degree programs that teach programming. Still, there are so many examples of game developers who have never seen the inside of a university that a high school degree will be perfectly sufficient. 

Of course, a good general education does not hurt. But in essence, you need an increased basic understanding of mathematics and programming.

Done.

Whether you are in great demand as a game developer or are employed for standard tasks is determined by the quality of your performance. A significant aspect here is your experience.

Experience of a Game Developer

You have a big advantage here compared to other professions.

You can outshine all other evaluation criteria with your performance and experience.

You can apply with your programmed games or apps. So, for example, if you were involved in developing a blockbuster such as Call of Duty at a previous employer, you no longer need to prove anything.

You will always see in applications that 2-3 years of experience is desired. Here, however, the job advertisement instead targets social skills.

Career starters don’t know what it’s like to be a small wheel in real game productions.

Nevertheless, even as a beginner: Show your excellent quality as a programmer with a practical example, and the social skills immediately slip into the background.

As an experienced programmer, you will always have a possibility to build a bridge from old projects and apply methods and technologies to possible new tasks.

I don’t have to explain that to an old hand like you 😉

Technical Skills of a Game Developer

Oh man, technical skills are a broad field with game developers. There are so many different areas for specialization.

Mobile games are, in parts, something completely different than PC or console games. In addition, virtual reality brings completely different technical elements than the implementations for regular games.

All the features you put into code have a direct impact on different technical topics.

This starts with which programming language is used, whether performance parameters are met, how much additional memory is needed, up to device drivers, and much more.

For each small topic, there are numerous technical implementation options that you need to know and evaluate. And new functions are added all the time.

For example, if AMD or NVIDIA adds a new feature to the graphics cards (as happened with NVIDIA Reflex, for example – here’s our article on that), you’ll have to deal with it immediately.

Social Skills of a Game Developer

As mentioned above, the image of a developer programming alone has never been so wrong. Game productions are so tightly timed and perfectly planned that no one can afford a lack of communication.

You have to coordinate with people outside your team and your work colleagues all the time.

The game market is constantly changing, so the basic idea of a game may change several times during production.

Often, new game elements are taken from successful other games in a similar modified form.

Without quick and clean communication, these rapid changes, of course, cannot go well. But, on the other hand, you need to have certain social skills to get your ideas accepted. 

In such a dynamic environment, interpersonal tensions naturally arise. Therefore, a skill set that brings with it a certain resilience, composure, and mediation naturally has an incredibly positive effect on your work and the immediate environment.

What is the Salary of a Game Developer in the USA?

Typically, a game developer earns between 50 and 90 thousand dollars, depending on the employee’s education, experience, location, and size. The average salary across the USA for game developers is $69,145.

As with all professions, the spectrum is very broad. Without work experience, you will probably start at 50 thousand. With 3-7 years of work experience, 80 thousand is realistic.

Only with 7 years of experience you can seriously apply as a senior game developer and expect a 6-digit salary.

When you see salary ranges on job portals, you also have to remember that most companies offer fringe benefits on top.

Company cars, company housing, gas cards, and many other things are worth cash and can be negotiated additionally. 

Especially in the area of hardware in the home office, you can get a small bonus right at the start if you find out beforehand what is usual or possible at your desired employer.

Here are a few examples* of average salaries for a game developer in different states:

StateAverage Salary Game Developer
California (CA)$77,854
Florida (FL)$68,772
Massachusetts (MA)$73,000
Maine (ME)$65,243
North Carolina (NC)$65,938
Nevada (NV)$67,644
New York (NY)$77,132
Pennsylvania (PA)$75,017
Tennessee (TN)$60,964
Texas (TX)$66,264
Utah (UT)$64,917
Washington (WA)$67,004

*For each state, between 20-40 jobs were picked from different job portals and averaged at the respective experience level. 

Map of the USA, Salary Ranges for Game Developer – Examples

What is the Salary of a Game Developer in the USA Compared to Canada, Australia, Mexico, South America, Europe, and Asia?

Maybe it is interesting for you as a game developer to work outside the USA. Below we give you average values for other regions worldwide. 

Please note that we are giving the top values for each region. 

For example, we take values from Germany and France or Scandinavia in the Europe region, as salaries are much higher there than in the south of Europe. 

The same applies to South America and Asia.

In the following table, all values are rounded to the nearest thousand, and the currencies have all been converted to US dollars.*

RegionAverage Salary Game Developer (rounded)
USA$69,000
Canada$61,000
Australia$58,000
Mexico$25,000
South America$16,000
Europe$49,000
Asia$42,000

*If a region included multiple countries, we averaged parts of the region where salaries were highest.

Map of the World, Salary Ranges for Game Developer

What are the Future Perspectives of Game Developers?

The fact is that the gaming industry is one of the fastest-growing industries, and the perspectives of game developers are very good.

Game developers are still always wanted with many different platforms, new technologies like VR or AR, and new challenging gameplay elements.

Every year, salaries increase, the gaming community grows, influencers and Esports bring more and more consumers into the gaming industry ecosystem. 

The interoperability between almost all platforms and the emerging cloud gaming makes more and more complex games possible. 

All this is a solid foundation for game developers and their future. 

We can fully recommend this career path if you have the skill set described above and would enjoy this activity.

If you have a question about the post or pro gaming in general, write us: contact@raiseyourskillz.com.

GL & HF! Flashback out.

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