Game programming jobs salary

Game programming jobs salary DEFAULT

Average Video Game Programmer Salary

Avg. Base Salary (USD)

The average salary for a Video Game Programmer is $64,


What is the Pay by Experience Level for Video Game Programmers?

An entry-level Video Game Programmer with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $57, based on 27 salaries. An early career Video Game Programmer with years of experience earns an average total compensation of $65, based on 68 salaries. …Read more

What Do Video Game Programmers Do?

Video game programmers are responsible for creating application code for video games. They are in charge of coding complex algorithms and sequences to adapt to video game design. These individuals participate in the video game process by modifying programming actions, recommending features, and testing programming code. They have strong problem solving skills regarding video game issues such as memory consumption and graphic glitches. They participate in design and development meetings to …Read more

Video Game Programmer Tasks

  • Use source debuggers and visual development environments.
  • Write, modify, and debug software for games, including personal computer, console, networked, and online multiplayer.
  • Write code that provides real-time interactive response under varying system and network conditions.
  • Test and document software.

Job Satisfaction for Video Game Programmer

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Gender Breakdown

This data is based on 52 survey responses. Learn more about the gender pay gap.

Common Health Benefits


Video Game Programmer Salary for

This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. See the annual pay for all video game jobs here.

Video Game Programmer Stereotype

Table of Contents

  1. Game Programmer salary: Overview
  2. Game Programmer salary: Factors
  3. Search for Game Programming jobs
  4. Game Programmer salary: Details
  5. Other factors that affect Programmer salary
  6. Demand for Game Programmers
  7. Should I become a Game Programmer?

When young people dream of making video games, they usually think of becoming a game designer. Learning how to be a video game programmer isn&#;t usually on their radar, because most people don&#;t really understand what a game developer does. In fact, game programming can seem like a black art that&#;s too technical (and nerdy?) for the average person to understand.

But the truth is that anyone can learn to be a game programmer. And there&#;s something else you might not know about game programming: Video game programmers have, on average, the highest salaries of any development job in the game industry.

Now do I have your attention&#;?

How much do video game programmers make? And how much could you make as a game programmer?

Game Programmer Salary: Overview

If you&#;ve researched video game programming jobs, you know there are many &#;flavors&#; of game programmers: graphics programmers, server programmers, client programmers, front-end programmers, technical directors and so on. The game industry also has many names for &#;programmer.&#; They can be called programmers, developers, or engineers, depending on the game studio.

Fortunately, the jobs &#; and the salaries &#; are similar, no matter what they&#;re called. Let&#;s take a look.

If you&#;re a tl;dr kind of reader, here&#;s the short version: Game programmer salaries range from $44, (entry-level) to $,+ per year (senior/lead programmers). Also, any given game studio has several programming roles. So how is game programmer pay determined?

Game Programmer Salary: Factors

Like most jobs, game engineer salaries are based on years of programming experience, areas of expertise, and whether there&#;s a &#;lead&#; or a &#;senior&#; in the job title. The more experience you have, the more you&#;ll likely be paid.

But there&#;s another factor to consider. And that&#;s whether a given programmer&#;s skill set is currently considered a &#;premium&#; skill. For example, graphics programmers were in high demand ten years ago, so they were paid a lot more than other programmers.

These days, server programmers are in demand. That&#;s why coders who can program game servers are paid more than their colleagues. If you&#;re thinking about starting a career in game programming, it&#;s worth paying attention to these premium trends.

Search for Game Programmer Jobs

Many game programming jobs are available, but they have different titles depending on the country, state and game company. Try searching for job titles like &#;video game programmer,&#; &#;game developer,&#; or &#;game engineer.&#; You can also try more specific searches like &#;gameplay programmer,&#; &#;AI programmer,&#; or &#;combat engineer.&#;

Game Programmer Salary: Details

Okay, let&#;s take a look at the numbers in detail. These figures draw on three sources:, Game Developer Magazine&#;s annual salary survey, and my own experience as programmer and technical director in the game industry.

One way to break down the numbers is to look at experience. Here are the average salaries for game programmers with various years of experience.

Video Game Programmer Salary by years of experience

Under 3 Years Years6+ Years
Game Programmer/Engineer
Lead/Senior Game Programmer/Engineer
Technical Director

Note that there isn&#;t data for Lead Game Programmers or Technical Directors until they have three to six years of experience. As you may have guessed, programmers are rarely promoted into leadership positions until they have several years of on-the-job experience.

Another way to break down the numbers is to look at each game programmer salary based on job title. This can be more useful (and more realistic) because it gives a salary range. It also separates each job&#;s title from years of experience, which better reflects the way game programmer careers actually progress. You won&#;t get promoted just because you&#;ve been doing the job for a certain amount of time. You get promoted based on the quality of your work, and the amount of responsibility you can handle on a game project.

Video Game Programmer salary by job title

Game Programmer/Engineer1
Senior Programmer or Lead Programmer2
Technical Director3

1 Entry-level game programmers can also be called Associate Programmers, or sometimes Programmer/Analysts. They generally work in a variety of existing code systems, since they&#;re just learning the ropes.

2 As programmers get more experience, they may take on more responsibility or even start managing a small team. Senior Programmers usually have more responsibility for creating new technology. Lead Programmers usually run a programming team of three or more other programmers.

3 Technical Directors usually manage a team of programmers working on a large or important area of technology. At some studios, they may be responsible for managing an entire programming department.

Other Factors That Affect Game Programmer Salary

The numbers above are averages from many hundreds of programmer salaries, so they&#;re generalized. Specific programmer salaries have a wide range, due to several factors that affect how much each programmer is paid. The largest influencing factors can include:

  • Company or studio size. Larger companies generally have bigger project budgets. That allows them to pay their game programmers higher salaries. For example, indicates that some game programmers at Konami and Naughty Dog are paid as much as $,/year. That&#;s 25% more than the top-range programmer salary at most other game studios.
  • Education background. The early days of the game industry saw many self-taught programmers. But nowadays, most programmer job descriptions require a Bachelor&#;s in Computer Science (or a related degree) from a university or college. So getting a degree or certificate in programming from a college or university can be an important step to getting your hands on a nice game programmer salary.
  • Premium Engineering Positions. Programmers tend to specialize in different areas, and some areas are worth more than others. It all depends on the needs of the game industry at the time. For instance, shows &#;server programmers&#; can be paid as high as $,/year. Compare that to &#;mobile programmers,&#; which average a top salary closer to $70,/year.

Demand for Game Programmers

The video game industry is a cyclical business. But one job that never goes away is the game programmer. Programmers bring the game design and art to life, so it&#;s difficult to get anything done without them. And because they need to work closely with the game designers, it&#;s a difficult job to outsource to other countries.

The chart below illustrates the demand for game programmers, based on the number of monthly job postings that include the terms &#;game programmer,&#; &#;game engineer,&#; and &#;game developer&#; in their description at (a job-posting aggregator).

Note that this approach can sometimes show false positives. For example, a given job posting might actually be for a Game Designer, but it would show up in the data if it mentioned &#;must work well with game programmers.&#; But that&#;s okay for our purposes. We&#;re interested in the trends, not the absolute numbers.

Video game programmer/engineer/developer demand trends

This chart makes it clear that while demand for video game programmers is as cyclical as the game industry itself, they&#;re always in strong demand.

Should I Become A Game Programmer?

If you&#;re passionate about making games and you love solving problems, then I hope these salary figures are encouraging. Programming video games for a living isn&#;t just an extremely fun job. It&#;s also the highest-paying job on any video game production team.

And if demand for game programmers ever gets too low, your programming skills will translate extremely well into other industries. If you can program games, you can also learn Web development, business software, or big data. Programming skills are always in demand somewhere, so type your ZIP code in the box below to find game programming schools near you.

*All values are in US dollars.
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Image: stockimages/freedigitalphotos
Sources: | |

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Game Programmer

Game programmer job description

Game programmer is a general term applied to the computer engineers that work on computer games. Usually trained in the basic languages of computer programming, programmers make a game come to life. They may specialize in areas of coding such as graphics, AI, sound, scripting, user interface, network, tools, porting, etc. 

A strong knowledge of coding and the various platforms is vital to becoming a Game Programmer. They are a key part of the development team taking technical resources throughout the production process, ensuring that at the end of the process the game functions effectively.

Role and Responsibilities

The role of the Game Programmer is to develop the software to create video games. This involves assembling the platforms and engines that will power the games, as well as writing code for custom software to support the unique requirements of games.

Game Programmers work closely with game designers and developers during the video game pipeline process, setting up the game engine and ensuring that the production runs smoothly. A large part of their role is problem solving, so a firm knowledge of gaming software is required to help bring the game to life.

Creating prototypes that will act as a proof of concept is a crucial early stage of the production pipeline. Programmers will gain a better understanding of the limits of the game and how to iron out bugs throughout the process. 

Designers and developers rely on the programmers to deliver the best version of the game possible to thrive in competitive markets. 

The responsibilities of the Game Programmer may include:

  • Liaising with game designers and developers in setting up technical resources
  • Researching and developing the suite of software and platforms that will be used to support the game
  • Ensuring the game design is fully realized and performs to maximum capacity
  • Creating procedures and production documents
  • Working to tight schedules and keep to budget
  • Producing prototypes in the early stages of production
  • Conducting quality assurance tests and respond to feedback 
  • Collaborating with all departments to smooth over technical issues, problem solve and create solutions during the production pipeline process
  • Responding to the technical needs of all departments
  • Working in teams towards common goals
  • Providing ongoing tech support after the game has been launched, work on upgrades to the game

Software and Other Tools Used

Game Programmers are required to drive the technical needs of the game using industry standard software and the platforms that support them. 

Software used by Game Programmers may include:

  • C
  • C++
  • Java
  • Nuke
  • Unreal Engine
  • Maya
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects
  • Unity

Skills Required

Game Programmers will usually have a background in computer science or computer programming, specializing in the needs and demands of game production. In the quality assurance phases, the games will be pushed to their limits, the programmers need to ensure the game is resilient enough to withstand maximal gameplay.

Employers may look for the following skills in Game Programmers:

  • Training in computer science or computer programming
  • Problem solving skills
  • Knowledge of 2D and 3D animation software
  • Familiar with the game production pipeline process
  • Passion for video games and experience with gaming
  • Interpersonal skills to deal with creative and production teams
  • Team player, ability to work independently
  • Analytical mindset
  • Able to keep on schedule and meet deadlines
  • Good communication skills
  • Creative problem solving skills
  • Expert knowledge of technical and software advancements in the gaming industry
  • Knowledge of gaming genres and trends

Average Salary

The average salary for a Game Programmer will range from USD $49, for a junior position to USD $85,+ for a senior position. (Source: Glassdoor)

To learn more about this field, visit: The Game Development Process: How Video Games are Made



You'll need a passion for games, technical skills and the ability to work on your own and with a team to succeed as a games developer

Working in games development, you'll be involved in the creation and production of games for personal computers, games consoles, social/online games, arcade games, tablets, mobile phones and other handheld devices.

With a large games company, you may focus on a particular area of programming such as network, engine, graphic, toolchain and artificial intelligence. With a smaller independent 'indie' game producer, there's often much less of a distinction between the role of developer and designer, and your job may incorporate both programming and design.

The making of a game from concept to finished product can take years and involve teams of professionals. There are several stages, including creating and designing a game's look and how it plays, animating characters and objects, creating audio, programming, localisation, testing, editing and producing.


As a game developer, you'll need to:

  • design, develop and deliver systems and high quality code using programming languages, such as C++ and C#
  • perform code reviews to ensure code quality
  • refactor code to improve the design of existing code
  • quality test coding in a systematic and thorough way to find problems or bugs and record precisely where the problem was discovered
  • debug programs and solve complex technical problems that occur within the game's production
  • collaborate with games development team members to meet the needs of a project
  • work closely with designers, artists and other staff involved in the design process in order to create a quality product to schedule
  • perform effectively under pressure and meet deadlines to ensure a game is completed on time.

Depending on the role you may also:

  • develop designs or initial concept designs for games including game play
  • generate game scripts and storyboards
  • create the visual aspects of the game at the concept stage
  • use 2D or 3D modelling and animation software, such as Maya, at the production stage
  • produce the audio features of the game, such as character voices, music and sound effects.

In a more senior position, you might:

  • have responsibility for technical strategy and execution of projects from concept to market
  • plan resources and manage both the development team and the process.


  • Typical starting salaries are around £19, to £25,
  • Once you have a few years' experience, you may earn a salary of £35, to £50,
  • One you're in a senior position, such as team leader or technical director, your salary can range from £55, to in excess of £75,

Salaries vary depending on your specialism, as well as on the type of company you work for, its size and location. Some companies offer bonuses or a profit-sharing scheme.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Developers often work a hour week, although the role offers some flexibility and you won't necessarily work 9am to 5pm. You may have to work extra hours when deadlines approach. On these occasions you could work over the weekend and into evenings.

Related case studies

What to expect

  • The role is typically office, studio or production house based, although if you're a freelancer you may be able to work from home. Team members may be located remotely, either in the UK or other parts of the world.
  • Jobs are available throughout the UK although the largest concentrations are in London and the South East, the Midlands, and major cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh.
  • The working environment is often informal and the dress code is usually casual, although this may depend on the amount of client contact you have.
  • You may need to travel occasionally to meet clients, attend training courses or carry out research.


Although you can become a games developer with any degree subject, employers often look for a degree, HND or foundation degree in:

  • computer games (development or design)
  • computer games programming
  • computer science
  • games technology
  • mathematics
  • physics
  • software engineering.

If your work includes design as well as development, a degree in a subject such as animation, interactive media, games design and art or graphic design may be useful. The Independent Games Developers' Association (TIGA) accredits a number of games courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Entry without a degree, HND or foundation degree is sometimes possible, particularly if you have relevant experience, although most people who work in games are graduates.

An alternative route into games development is as a quality assurance technician or tester. Although you don't need to have an HND or degree for this role, some programming experience is desirable, as well as extensive experience of game playing, an understanding of different styles, and platforms and database skills.

Although having a postgraduate qualification isn't essential it might be useful, especially if your first degree or HND doesn't involve a games specialism element.

With the increasing popularity of games and advances in technology, the industry offers a range of opportunities, but competition is intense at all levels and you'll need to demonstrate a high level of commitment and achievement.


You will need to have:

  • technical ability, in particular familiarisation with a range of programming languages and/or software packages
  • teamworking skills to liaise with other developers and other teams involved in making a game
  • self-motivation and the ability to work independently on your own projects
  • a creative and innovative approach to solving complex technical problems
  • communication skills
  • flexibility to meet deadlines and client requirements
  • organisational skills to manage and prioritise your workload effectively
  • attention to detail
  • a forward-thinking approach to work and willingness to keep learning and developing your skills
  • enthusiasm for and knowledge of the games industry.

Work experience

It's essential that you create a working demo with examples of game programming you've created to show employers your technical skills and creativity. The ability to code in programming languages such as C++, scripting experience and knowledge of specific software tools are also useful skills. For design roles, you should also have a portfolio of your artistic work.

Relevant work experience gained, for example, through an industrial placement during your degree, is also valuable and may help you to network and build contacts.

A strong interest in games and a knowledge of the industry is vital. Get involved in online forums to increase your knowledge of current industry hot topics and read games development magazines.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Employers are mainly games developers or games publishers. Development studios can be owned by larger publishers or a smaller independent (indie) companies. The game industry operates regionally, nationally and internationally.

Games production companies and studios vary in size from small companies employing fewer than five people to multinational studios employing hundreds.

Games are created in a variety of different forms and as well as being used for PCs, tablets and games consoles, they can be commissioned by such diverse clients as:

  • educational institutions
  • broadcasters
  • DVD and CD-ROM authoring companies
  • information providers such as local and national government
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
  • marketing and advertising agencies
  • mobile phone companies
  • design companies.

Project work accounts for a considerable proportion of employment in this field. Fixed-term contracts or freelance work may be available and there are opportunities to work on a self-employed basis.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies handle vacancies for games development. Examples include:

Entry-level jobs are rarely advertised so it's important to build up contacts in the industry. Approach companies speculatively, making sure you do your research first and target your application accordingly. For lists of UK games developer/video games companies and publishers, see UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie).

Professional development

You'll typically begin at a junior level and will train on the job under the supervision of a more experienced lead developer. Some companies develop their own software, specific to their needs and much of the training for this is done in-house.

As the games development industry is fast-moving, with changing technology, software packages and working methods, you must be willing to manage your own learning, teach yourself new skills and keep up to date with technological developments.

It's also possible to study at postgraduate level to develop your skills in a specialist area of games development. Courses in subjects such as games programming, software development and game engineering are available.

Search for postgraduate courses in computer game design.

Career prospects

Career progression within games development can be relatively fast. Many who enter the industry at junior level end up at lead level within five to seven years and can reach senior level within their first ten years. Senior-level positions include technical directors, developers, producers and team managers.

It's also possible to specialise in the developing areas of the industry such as wireless platforms, interactive game applications and online gaming.

There are also opportunities to develop your career overseas. Games development jobs can be found in countries such as Japan, the USA, Canada, Germany, France and Scandinavia.

Working freelance or setting up your own development studio is possible once you've built up experience.


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Salary jobs game programming

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Software Engineer Salaries... How much do programmers make?

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