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Game Designers Earn More In UK Than In US

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the hopping-the-pond dept.

The Almighty Buck 82

Mark Graham writes "A number of surveys have recently put out details on the wages games developers earn in various parts of the world. Surveys by Develop in Europe and Game Developer in the US were among these. A report now compares the salary levels of various roles in the US and Europe. Turns out that game designers and producers do better in the UK, while artists and QA/testing wages are relatively the same on both sides of the Atlantic — and QA specifically is the worst paid; the lowest salaries being around £12,000/$25,000 — ouch! Luckily, I'm a programmer, but looks like I need to move country: we have the best paid roles in games development, but programmers are better off in America."

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In Useful Dollars (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085050)

That's cute and all, but what is that in pocket money? When you take out taxes, health care, rent, gas, water, electricity, phone, internet, etc... how much is left? Is there still an advantage in the UK? Does the advantage switch to the US? Are they about the same then?

Now you'll have to go based on average. Things are more expensive in NYC, Seattle, San Francisco, London, etc. than in smaller places like Dallas, Kansas City, Omaha, etc.

Speaking of which, how does the average salary of the place most of these jobs are located in effect this? Are the UK numbers higher because most video game jobs are located in extremely expensive areas?

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085114)

Are the UK numbers higher because most video game jobs are located in extremely expensive areas?
Perhaps the real question is this: Why do the suits choose to locate studios in extremely expensive areas?

Re:In Useful Dollars (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085174)

That's a good question. I've wondered that too. I don't think there are any game studios near me. I'm pretty sure I'd have to go at least 75 miles to get to one with more than 2 or 3 employees.

I can think of three reasons.

  1. Big companies - Microsoft hires tons of people. Many eventually leave. That leaves a large pool of talent in the Seattle area
  2. Industry - This ties in with #1. Nintendo had lots of video game programmers, so not only are there programmers up in Washington, there are game programmers
  3. Finance - There are many more banks and VCs and such in a town like Seattle, San Fran, or any other large city than in smaller places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That makes it easier to expand your company past 3 people.

Number 2 is probably the biggest reasons. If you want to act, you go to NYC or Hollywood. If you want to be in fashion you go to Paris, Milan, or NYC. If you want to be in games you can go to Seattle, San Fran, or Dallas (they seem to have quite a few, iD among others). Once people start following that advice, it just becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23085682)

There are many more banks and VCs and such in a town like Seattle, San Fran, or any other large city than in smaller places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That makes it easier to expand your company past 3 people.

Funny, we're expanding our company past three people and it didn't take venture capitalists or banks to do it. Of course, it probably helped that we actually produced a product people were willing to pay for and were capable of turning a profit, so we don't need to borrow millions of dollars to burn on corporate jets, fancy chairs or other stupid status symbol bullshit like expensive $5000/sq.ft. downtown penthouse offices that seem to soak up our competitors' competitiveness (not that we mind).

Re:In Useful Dollars (3, Interesting)

haystor (102186) | more than 6 years ago | (#23104246)

Dallas (and Austin) aren't expensive compared to anything in California.

One reason games have to cluster in the same area is that the development cycle is so cyclical. Large numbers of programmers or artists are needed for specific portions of each project but not for the rest of it. This leads to a small core that stays on the project and the rest are either supplemental staff or are employees that rotate from project to project. Basically, the payroll expands and contracts based not just on projects, but on the specific phase of the project. This is much easier to do if there are lots of other game companies around as there will be an available pool of contractors.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085178)

Because they're "the suits" and can afford it.

Re:In Useful Dollars (3, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085216)

It's where the tea and biscuits are.

Re:In Useful Dollars (4, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085410)

All areas are expensive now. The UK is currently experiencing a housing shortage in the South of England and Scotland due to immigration and growth. They need to build at least 120,000 homes/year just to match growth. One solution has been "garden grabbing" where devlopers buy up a house with a large garden, and convert it into a block of flats which are sold to the "Buy-to-Let" market for minimum wage foreign workers.

Another problem is that of (some say overpaid) city workers who earn 100K+ pounds/year + bonuses who are buying everything up. They will buy a house in the outer suburbs of London for work (Home Counties), a house in the countryside for the weekends, and a flat or two for their children in the cities, when they become students. Needless to say, this does have a effect of pricing the locals out - the UK is currently experiencing a migration of 700K nationals/year due to this as well as the increasing Islamic population in the inner city suburbs.
Banks were encouraged to allow first-time buyers to borrow up to 5x their salary, using 100% mortgages.

With interest rates going up and the cost of food going up by 20%/years, this might just change.

Re:In Useful Dollars (3, Informative)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23087354)

You're right about the housing shortage and true, buy to let does cause a bit of pressure on house prices but only if the house lies empty. If you think about it, someone who lives in a rented property is unlikely to also live in a bought one. Unless of course they are also a wealthy, countryside dwelling city worker with the money to spare for a rented apartment in town.

Anyway, city workers compete mostly with each other for the same kinds of property. For example, compare property in E14, the postcode of Canary Wharf with that of neighbouring postcodes such as E1, E2 and E3. It's also where the biggest buy to let market is. Rent and mortgage monthly payments are about comparable but you just need the critical mass of the 10% deposit. With the current credit crisis, gone are the days of 100% mortgages.

I work in Canary Wharf as a java devloper and earn about 65K per year and it's quite difficult to afford to rent OR buy in a place that you don't feel like you're taking part in a Crimewatch reconstruction.

I suppose the only good news is that property prices are falling in the uk. Check out Property Snake [propertysnake.co.uk] for the evidence in real terms.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092002)

Anyway, city workers compete mostly with each other for the same kinds of property.

Once they have moved into an area I would agree, but it's when a particular area changes character or price, it is obvious:

School lotteries in Brighton [independent.co.uk]

240,000 Second-home owners targeted in bid to save rural areas from turning into ghost towns [dailymail.co.uk]

Nottingham's forest of housing despair [guardian.co.uk]

But it is in Greater Nottingham "family areas" such as Lenton, Radford, Dunkirk and Beeston where buy-to-let blight has struck the worst. Estate agents turn what would elsewhere be a three-bedroom semi into a "five to six letting room property", and a four-bedroom house is marketed as "seven to eight letting rooms".

"Nothing is sold in the normal way," says Ms Fletcher. "With each student paying around £3,500 a year, landlords can earn about 8.5% on their investments. Even before tax relief, that's substantially more than the cost of borrowing, so they can outbid families. Estate agents have no interest in selling to parents with children. Investors pay more so there is more commission."


City chiefs crack down on buy-to-let [scotsman.com]

Even if people try and move to the other end of the country, houses in good area of the city are still expensive:

Highland House Prices [bbc.co.uk]

For Highland as a whole the median price for a previously owned house by 2006 was £136,000 - an increase of £33,000.

The Scottish figure was £114,000, a £24,000 increase.

Two of the most expensive areas for houses are Inverness Ness-side and Inverness South where median prices are about £140,000 and £160,000.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096802)

I never really thought about splitting larger housing into smaller onces. I can see how that really makes things difficult for families. I always had an instinct that buy to let was bad but since rental rates are so much lower in other countries I thought it was mostly ok. I guess not...

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23098080)

I work in Canary Wharf as a java devloper and earn about 65K per year and it's quite difficult to afford to rent OR buy in a place that you don't feel like you're taking part in a Crimewatch reconstruction.

I work as a web developer earning 26K and I'm affordably renting a pretty nice semi-detatched house with patio/garden/shed, conservatory, opposite a big park / playground and primary school, in London's third safest borough.

True, if I worked at Canary Wharf my commute would be an hour each way on a good day, but even that's not undoable, and in practice, if I worked at Canary Wharf I'd be fairly confident I could pull a similar trick to what I've pulled now (ie, the above reasonably nice property and location, and a reasonably painless commute).

So, I think you exaggerate a bit. Still, in terms of buying a place, I feel like I can't see any way it'll ever happen, frankly.

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23085426)

Ever tried to get good developers to move to the sticks?

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Informative)

Doug-W (165055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085548)

Because the game industry is mostly a closed industry. If you work in the game industry now, chances are great that your next job will also be in the game industry. This promotes clustering of studios. If you're going to strike out on your own, you strike out where your last position was leading to more studios in the same region. Likewise, before you move for a position you look to see what other studios are there in case it doesn't work out. For the most part you're looking at one of maybe 6 places: Seattle, San Francisco (and down into San Jose), Orange County/LA, San Diego, Austin, Maryland. Are there other studios around? Yes, but pretty much just 1-2 in the entire town. Look at Las Vegas that had Westwood, and when they closed some Westwood people founded Petroglyph, but it's still the only studio in town. Phoenix has Cheyenne Mountain Games and nothing else, Houston has Timegate, and nothing else. Etc...

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Interesting)

azuredrake (1069906) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085868)

There are a fair number of game companies in Boston, too - 2k Boston, Rockstar New England, Harmonix, Blue Fang Games, and Floodgate Entertainment, to name but a few.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Insightful)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092396)

The lack of game development in Houston is one reason why I've never even tried for a game dev job. There is a glut of development job posting around here, but it's virtually all business logic, web design, and medical. Nothing stimulating - just work for (hopefully) decent pay.

I'm sniffing around at the developer job market lately, but it's hard to get an actual idea of what is a good figure to ask for in terms of salary. My current salary is laughable (especially considering 8 years of heavy and varied experience), but I also work at an ISP/Datacenter (an industry that never pays well).

The hardest part of making the leap to actually start pursuing jobs is... what kind of salary should I ask for? Historically, I've asked for amounts so low that it's ended up a ripoff, but I have absolutely no reliable idea of what people make - especially .Net programmers (who can switch to Perl, PHP, ASP, VB, C++, x86 Assembly - and can admin a unix or windows box to boot). I don't trust headhunters, and the job sites I look at give wildly varying "standards". Most job postings don't even suggest a figure.

Any suggestions on how to identify a reasonable price tag to put on myself?

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

TexVex (669445) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096714)

The lack of game development in Houston is one reason why I've never even tried for a game dev job.
So move to Austin! That's just a short jaunt by Texas standards.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Insightful)

fatgraham (307614) | more than 6 years ago | (#23134782)

"Any suggestions on how to identify a reasonable price tag to put on myself?"

Make the prospective employer offer YOU a salary. You are filling THEIR need, find out what it's worth to this company to have that need filled.

On the other hand, if the job is filling YOUR need (money for the bills) then work out how much you need to be paid to cover this

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093864)

I would not be surprised to learn that they locate to expensive areas due to tax breaks offered to companies in these areas...

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085172)

FWIW, food alone is about twice as much, and the cost of driving is far more expensive as well (then again, they have less need to drive).

It's enough for me to think that overall, stuff is more expensive than it has to be, but I would still imagine they treat their employees better as well.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23087120)

It's enough for me to think that overall, stuff is more expensive than it has to be
There's even a name for it: "Rip-off Britain".

On the bright side, we don't have to pay for health insurance, though the NHS isn't as good as some Americans think (in practice it's very hard to get dentistry for free, for example, which explains the stereotype about British teeth!)

but I would still imagine they treat their employees better as well.
Yeah, in Britain you actually need a reason to fire someone, so it's much harder to impose unfair working conditions and then just fire anyone who refuses to do 120-hour weeks.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085202)

In related news, people in other places earn different salaries, have different living costs - and this is the real jawdropper - different-colored money than people in America.

Whoa.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085624)

and this is the real jawdropper - different-colored money
Actually, we have that kind of money here in the US, too. Parker Brothers/Hasbro prints something like $50 billion of it every year.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085226)

Things are more expensive in NYC, Seattle, San Francisco, London, etc. than in smaller places like Dallas, Kansas City, Omaha, etc.
I love how you put Seattle in the "big cities" list while you put Dallas in the "smaller places" list. This despite the fact that Dallas is both bigger geographically (385 sq mi vs 142.5 sq mi) and has a bigger population (1,232,940 vs 582,174). LOL. Besides you don't find any major game company in Omaha.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Lyrael (1196443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23089092)

385 square miles with a population of 1,232,940 vs 142.5 square miles with a population of 582,174 = lower population density. I can see how that might be referred to as a 'smaller' place. :)

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

relikx (1266746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085340)

Things are more expensive in NYC, Seattle, San Francisco, London, etc. than in smaller places like Dallas, Kansas City, Omaha, etc.
I hate to point out but your "smaller places" reference to Dallas is wrong compared to Seattle and possibly San Francisco as well depending on how you count metropolitan areas.

Typical West Coast bias, don't forget everything's bigger in Texas.

Re:In Useful Dollars (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23085476)

Typical West Coast bias, don't forget everything's bigger in Texas.

Egos, Heads, Fat Asses & Lies.. yeah, seems to be true.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085412)

Lol.... cause taxes and healthcare is like throwing away money... You pay more to maintain your health in the US.
 
I might agree with you in the higher end of wages... like 70+k

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085806)

Contrary to popular belief many of us pay nothing or a token contribution to health care in the US -- at least directly. Instead of paying the government our employers pay a private company. Whether or not there are health care contributions that are subtracted from the salary quotation is going to depend on the shop.

Taxes are iffy. We do have nice highways. 40 cents of every dollar goes to the military, the utility of which depends on what the military is actually doing with it. This part is somewhat unique to America. Plenty of it is either wasted or squandered on giveaways to corporations, but cronyism seems to happen everywhere.

Re:In Useful Dollars (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086340)

Taxes are iffy.
Damn furries.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23087140)

We do have nice highways.
Shame about the bridges, eh?

(To be fair, the impressive thing about the US highway system is its sheer size. Those of us living in far smaller countries can't really criticise you for not maintaining everything in perfect condition -- we have it much easier!)

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23088344)

Agreed, in terms of design, quality and maintenance I've found US roads to be very poor. But with that many thousands of miles to maintain, it's inevitable they're going to cut corners.

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23085634)

Uh yea, did we mention the UK has public health insurance. That alone makes it worth it if you're an overweight geek likely to run into health issues down the road.

As for

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085658)

Now you'll have to go based on average. Things are more expensive in NYC, Seattle, San Francisco, London, etc. than in smaller places like Dallas, Kansas City, Omaha, etc.
Metropolitan population and cost of living aren't as closely related as you think. Dallas is the 5th largest media market in the U.S. (Chicago is 3rd, SF 4th). Houston is 6th, Atlanta is 8th, DC is 9th, Boston is 10th, Seattle is 14th, and San Diego is 17th. The state that a city is in has far more to do with how far a given gross income will go than the size of the city. I never considered Seattle when I looked into this a few years ago, but a similarly paying job in Chicago, Dallas, Houston or Atlanta was far more valuable than the same job in NYC, LA, SF, DC, Boston, or San Diego.

Metro Areas: http://www.arbitron.com/radio_stations/mm001050.asp [arbitron.com]

Costs of Living: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883960.html [infoplease.com]

Tax exposure also varies widely from state to state. Several years ago you could make about as much (in terms of after-tax purchasing power) as a reasonably competent waitress in an upscale chain restaurant in Dallas as you could as a first year associate in a major law firm in NYC.

As a caveat, though, I haven't looked into this for several years (and the Cost of Living index above is 3-4 years old). In several markets, housing costs have probably changed substantially within the last year. Rising transportation costs and a weakening dollar are likely to impact some markets more than others.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085748)

Is there still an advantage in the UK?

Well, yeah...If you need a triple bypass there sure is.

Re:In Useful Dollars (5, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086064)

That's cute and all, but what is that in pocket money? When you take out taxes, health care, rent, gas, water, electricity, phone, internet, etc... how much is left? Is there still an advantage in the UK?
Speaking as both an England to America immigrant and as someone who's worked in the games industry:

You pay more tax in the UK but you get more benefits to it. By the time you pay to get those benefits back, you get about the same end result.

Yes, American healthcare is "private" - but the standard private healthcare in the U.S. is very similar in level to NHS care in the UK. The waiting lists might be a little shorter but bean counters are still the order of the day, you're still going in to crowded waiting rooms, the hours are still inconvenient and you get charged far more in copays. Whilst free British compares to paid American, paid British is in a totally different league - nothing I've seen in the states comes close to what I got under WorldCom's BUPA coverage in London.

Food is curious one. When it comes to true budget items, the 5p tins of baked beans and 11p loaves of cheap white bread I bought as a student don't translate in to 9c tins and 20c loaves. Eating out appears cheaper in the U.S. but you then whack on 8% in taxes and the social pressure of 20% tips vs. the UK where tax is already included and tipping is something you do to reward good service, not because the owners are too cheap to pay properly.

Cars... I buy British anyway. Just paid $30,000 for a very comfortably spec'd Mini Cooper S. Would likely pay a little more in Europe, even though there's less shipping. In part that's simply because the dollar's so weak right now. The Lotus I have my heart set on is $45k + options, UK runs about $55k in the US, again because of the weak dollar. Then again, a tube pass cost a fraction of that and wasn't an issue when regularly drunk.

Gas is insanely cheaper in the U.S. Even in California with the current craziness, it's about half the price.

Rent in San Diego gets you a nicer, bigger place than you'd get in London - but doesn't get much cheaper. Commute time is about the same. Distances are much greater but your own car and lighter traffic beats waiting for a tube.

Net access... I don't recall that much of a difference. US companies advertise cheaper rates but they only really apply for three months and then they shoot up plus they tack on endless hidden charges. UK companies get a spanking when they try that.

TV costs... Far more choice in the U.S., most of it crap, almost all of it with more commercials than content. Compared to the BBC, it's insane. Even compared to ITV, there's WAY more advertising to sit through. Most of the good US shows make it to the UK. Most of the good UK shows get remade badly for the states while the originals turn up on strange channels.

There's one other huge difference: The European Working Time Directive vs. Overtime Exempt. In Europe you run in to all kinds of issues for pushing much over 40 hours. Granted, most people end up drifting up around 50 but it doesn't go much higher. In the U.S. gaming industry, 80 hour weeks are very common with crunches up around the 100-120 hour point. That work life balance is worth a fortune.

So, in the scheme of things, life's been pretty comparable. I'm more comfortable than I was in the UK but then I'm also more senior now. Like for like, things may seem more or less expensive but hidden vs. apparent costs quickly bring them back to roughly the same point.

Of course, what England doesn't have, and the main reason I'll probably always stay in Southern California, is consistently good weather. No one here really knows what Seasonal Affective Disorder means. The best comparrison is the best day of any given season in England is the worst day of the same season in California. Hence, even in mid winter, you can wander outside in a t-shirt at lunchtime, soak up the sun, and feel good about life. Of course that's just one part of the states. Try it in Minnesota and you're in for a shock.

Re:In Useful Dollars (2, Interesting)

stonertom (831884) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086884)

Slightly off topic, but hey whats /. for. I've seen people move both directions because they end up better off, but it does appear that America has a more purely capitalist approach to life. The time this seems most obvious is not in a properly paid professional job, but when you're just getting started. I'd imagine most of the /. crowd worked minimum wage at some point (AFAIK everyone without parents who pay the bills does), and thats where free health care and stricter employment law really counts. My GF is working in the US ATM, and she has to just make sure not to get ill and put up with working conditions that are illegal by EU standards.

Re:In Useful Dollars (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086904)

Funny, I moved to England from Southern California about 4 years ago. I generally agree with your sentiments, except for a few points.

Cars aren't slightly more expensive to buy, they can be much more expensive. It isn't to do with the weak dollar (which is going nowhere but down). Cars are taxed more in the UK, and depending on engine size, the CO2 tax can be up to 40%. Additionally you also have to pay 17.5% VAT on the car as well. Anyway, I don't have a car anymore, since reading on the train beats sitting in traffic in Los Angeles.

Regarding food, I would say you have to pay about double in the UK to get the same quality. However the UK has pubs with great beer.

The holiday time is definitely great, almost everyone seems to get one month off a year. Its great taking two 2 week holidays in the same year.

I got tired of 365 days of nice weather, so the horrible English weather doesn't seem so bad. I'm looking forward to the summer though (since there was no summer last summer), I haven't felt heat from the sun in a couple years now.

I'm even used to hearing Americans referred to as septics. (Septic tank rhymes with Yank, its a cockney rhyme).

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23093998)

Additionally you also have to pay 17.5% VAT on the car as well
Yeah, but the advertised price includes that, unlike in America where sales tax varies from state to state and is always tacked on as an unpleasant surprise when you go to pay.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105528)

Sales tax on a car in the states won't be more then 10% in any given place at present time. Sometimes for cars, they have a different types of tax then a sales tax that is actually lower then the going sales tax. But once you add the state sales tax, the country and/or municipality sales taxes together, there isn't anyplace I am aware of that comes out to most then 10%. Most often it totals about 8% in the extreme cases.

Anyways, compare that to a 17.5% VAT and you will see almost half as in the states which doesn't even address other taxes like the current Co2 tax on engine emissions from engines over a certain size (in the UK/EU).

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111756)

Septic isn't cockney rhyme, you just smell bad.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23089714)

The best comparrison is the best day of any given season in England is the worst day of the same season in California. Hence, even in mid winter, you can wander outside in a t-shirt at lunchtime, soak up the sun, and feel good about life. Of course that's just one part of the states. Try it in Minnesota and you're in for a shock.
I live in Scotland. I could walk around in a T-Shirt in Lapland and my nipples wouldn't even get hard.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23090888)

I live in New England, USA. Walking around New Hampshire in the winter IS like Lapland. Hell, you could go from Mt Washington [mountwashington.org] to Ben Nevis [visit-fortwilliam.co.uk] and have trouble telling them apart with your eyes closed.


Then again I've been in the White Mountains in Feb with just a t-shirt on in Feb one year and it was -30F the next Feb so that's New England weather for you.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

Discoflamingo13 (90009) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092086)

If you don't like the weather in Minnesota, wait an hour. Except in the "winter", which starts in October and ends in April. But unlike California, we have actual seasons.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093576)

Cars... I buy British anyway.

Surely you realize that "buying British" when it comes to cars is about as meaningful as "buying American" or "buying Japanese" these days. Your Mini Cooper S is assembled in the UK by a German-owned company using, among other things, engines sourced from Brazil and other parts from other countries. What really makes it "British"?

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23094334)

Umm... your advice on food is quite suspect, and makes me wonder what else you've made up here..

As a frequent visitor to the UK, you can expect that when eating out, the number of dollars you'd expect to pay for the item in the U.S. will also be the number of pounds. That is, eating out is roughly twice as expensive in the UK. Even counting in tip and tax, that still leaves a 70% differential. This is not counting very touristy places, at which you will pay even more.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23089764)

Wow this is so uninsightful...

Most game studios in England are located up north in area's such as Leeds, Wakefield, etc. These are the poor places of England.

Re:In Useful Dollars (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096540)

There are small companies all over the country. The larger studios managed to start up back in the 1980's because there were no other industries to compete against (coal mining, ship build and steel working collapsed), so lack of any competing industries meant that the cost of renting/house buying was not an obstacle to recruiting staff.

Very few companies could afford to relocate to that nicer office blocks in the town or business parks. The first problem is that whenever they get media attention about how much new business they are getting, the first thing that the landlords do is to increase the lease, about the annual increase rate, forcing the company to move out and disrupt everyone's commute.

There has always been an official government policy of getting companies to relocate in the poor parts of the country. The main reason is that they can claim to have created jobs and turned an area around. Then there is a belief that staff will want to live locally, and that it will encourage the locals to apply for those jobs.

Unfortunately, it usually means that everyone has to commute from one side of the town/city to the other.

Re:In Useful Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23091344)

s/effect/affect/

and us ones can work 80+ hour weeks with no over (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085102)

and us ones can work 80+ hour weeks with no overtime pay.

Re:and us ones can work 80+ hour weeks with no ove (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085708)

Yeah, when I was a teenager I wanted to be a games programmer.. then I actually found out how much competition there was to get into the industry and figured, hell, I could have all the fun of programming games without the stress of being overworked and underpaid by doing it in my own time.

Not unique to the "gaming industry" (2, Interesting)

lightversusdark (922292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085188)

Salaries are higher across all walks of life in the UK.
Taxation and the cost of living is however a significantly larger proportion of ones income.
Someone earning in Britain might not expect to keep very much of their salary after tax and bills, but conversely they will not have to save for healthcare or education out of their $25K/a.
Swings and roundabouts.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (3, Informative)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085848)

I hate to make the same post twice, but there seems to be this misconception that US salaries do not include health care. In most cases (especially in software) a benefits package will pay the majority of these costs for a man and his family. This extra compensation is not generally included in salary figures.

You do however contribute 6 or something percent towards OTHER, (jobless, aged, disabled) people's health care costs, which is subtracted from your salary as a tax, although they don't call it that.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23087996)

Not to contradict you, but my game dev job here in the UK /also/ includes private health care.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (1)

Lyrael (1196443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23089202)

and, as I'm sure somebody else already mentioned, private healthcare in the UK is goddamned luxurious.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094380)

Why do you need private health care? I'm not trolling, but I thought it was illegal over there to provide your own.

As for what the other guy said it's no different here. Their real good at keeping people alive for an unnatural amount of time (given what's befallen them), but getting a doctor's appointment is a PITA.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096662)

There have been some problems in the NHS hospital wards relating to antibiotic resistant bacteria (MRSA, clostridium difficile).

There was also problems with retirees having DNR written in their medical records by staff (Do Not Resuscitate) without ever being consulted, which meant that if someone had a heart or asthma attack, medical staff would not intervene.

And there is also a problem with asylum seekers and foreign workers being given priority over locals in areas of high demand.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23098138)

Private healthcare is absolutely not illegal over here. See http://bupa.co.uk/ [bupa.co.uk] for the best known company in the field. I think the general idea (leaving aside debate as to whether or not it works in practice) is that you don't / shouldn't "need" private healthcare, but if you want to pay for it in order to receive quicker treatment, more luxurious accomodation/food/etc, perform "unnecessary" surgery, etc, you're welcome to.

Re:Not unique to the "gaming industry" (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091724)

Im dont really know much about healthcare im still a student in the UK so im covered for pretty much anything.
But doesn't company healthcare tie you to being employed, Id be much less likely to leave a job i hated i have to pay loads of money if I get injured/ill. By giving workers more freedom to move around, dont you guarantee better conditions for most.
For example my dad was fed up of the admin crap in teaching so he took a year out retrained as an MS certified adult teacher or something, for the year we lived of my mums part-time teaching (a family of 4) (he had bought mortgage insurance so he didn't have to pay for a year of unemployment, which i suppose really helped lol)

Also as has been pointed out in the UK you get amazing private healthcare on top of your all ways there public healthcare.

The data looks very suspicious to me (2, Informative)

aeoo (568706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085596)

I know a lot of programmers and one artist and I believe all of them make vastly more than indicated on that chart. I think the chart is a bullshit propaganda piece to get people to believe that programmers and other roles make less money than they really do.

I have especially grave doubts in the low and high ends. I wouldn't count intern and 12 year old kids' ("a friend of a CTO's kid who wanted to work here") salaries as low end. And I will never believe than no programmer makes over 70k in game development. Game dev is technically one of the most challenging things you could be doing as a programmer and it must pay a lot more than what's indicated by the article.

Re:The data looks very suspicious to me (2, Informative)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085942)

Im guessing for programmers they count everything, including QAs and low end staff.

The average salary in the US for a game dev/programmer (not counting interns, QAs, etc) is actually about 83.5k last I checked. (I forget the source).

That said, game development is a field of extremes. The star programmers will make 6 or (::gasps::) even 7 digit if they have parts in the company. Average joe "Programming games is cool!" out of school will have issues paying rent though. Developing business apps is a far more reliable source of income over a long period of time.

Re:The data looks very suspicious to me (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23088370)

Read the original article in Game Developer - hell, even read the original linked article. QA and Programmers are separated.

Do you work in games, Shados? Besides extremely famous developers, I'm not sure any programmer is making a million dollars a year - I don't have any first-hand knowledge for that, but from the second-hand knowledge I've gathered, it seems fairly ridiculous.

As was said above, the average doesn't mean squat. I make less than the average salary listed there, but I live in an area with a very low cost of living. The only real use, I think, of these average salary surveys is to compare year-to-year and discipline-to-discipline. There's no use in comparing your salary to the average and trying to figure out if you're under/overpaid.

Re:The data looks very suspicious to me (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23089150)

They separated QA from programmer, but different surveys will draw the line of whats a QA and whats a programmer differently. Does the guy who writes unit tests count as a dev or not? Is the only one counting as a QA the test monkey who tries to run in every corners of the map? (Common).

And I specifically specified that the 7 digits were for -star- developers. Not everyday joe. Though even for not-quite-as-famous ones... The top tier of programmers in extremely successful companies will often run close to that... (well, "often", relatively speaking of course!). I know not-known-at-all Sharepoint developers running at 350$/hour on a payroll (not a contract! and in an area where cost of living is 1/3rd of what it is in NYC).

For the meaning of the average salary, you're quite correct. Unless of course, you live in a place where the cost of living is average :) (That said, I've worked for a significant amount of employers who based the salary of their employed base on the market's national average... so it is significant in that sense).

Re:The data looks very suspicious to me (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23090916)

They're probably counting just salaries not bonuses, not profit sharing, not stock option, just base salary.

Re:The data looks very suspicious to me (1)

TheLostSamurai (1051736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23092240)

Are you an American? Are you interpreting those figures as dollars? I only asked because based on those numbers the average programmer in the U.S. is making $83,912 with a high end of about $129,400. If you know Game Developers in the U.S. that are making way more than that, you need to tell me where I can send my resume.

News Flash! Weak dollar = low comparitiv salaries! (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085602)

The US dollar is very weak right now, to the point where European banks are considering propping it up. Is it really such a surprise that US salaries are comparatively low if you only consider the exchange ratio?

Exchange ratio's don't look at cost of living in each place. An economist would look at what a "basket of goods" would buy in each country to do a comparison. Exchange rates are based on market forces, and don't necessarily have anything to do with buying power in each country.

Re:News Flash! Weak dollar = low comparitiv salari (3, Insightful)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23085864)

Very true, you win the "basic understanding of economics" prize, which seems to have eluded the submitter.

The worst situation is for those who work in the UK but get paid in dollars (usually Americans.)

Re:News Flash! Weak dollar = low comparitiv salari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23092404)

If you want the perfect trifecta of broke-ness, you can try American Grad-Student at CERN.

Though I suggest you don't.

Re:News Flash! Weak dollar = low comparitiv salari (1)

hanako (935790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106272)

The worst situation is for those who work in the UK but get paid in dollars (usually Americans.)

Sadly, I fall into this category. As an indie game developer living in the UK I get paid in USD... and gnash my teeth a lot as the rates swirl around. Also, housing here costs a LOT more than where I used to live in the US, but it varies an awful lot city to city in the US.

Wrong industry (2, Insightful)

teh moges (875080) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086858)

If you are looking for money, you don't look at making games.

That market consistently pays lower then equivilent skilled programmers in other areas. You make games for passion, not for money. In that case, whether you make more or less money then another country is really not relevant.

Higher wages, longer work hours (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23087022)

When I have looked at jobs in different countries I have found that jobs in the US are typically better paid, especially compared with living costs.

However, the work hours are also much, much longer. 37.5 hours is a standard UK work week (also in many other European countries) and you typically get paid overtime for working any longer. Even so, more than 45-50 hours per week in one job is very uncommon and is typically only done by people with very high paid jobs. Also, the statutory minimum holiday is 24 days a year. In my current job this year I got 25 days + 5 days special wedding leave and 2 study days.

It depends on what you're after really. If I wanted to go somewhere to build up a nice bit of cash over a short period, no question I'd go to the US. However, I'd rather have a nice comfortable life with an interesting job and plenty of spare time to enjoy myself and so I'd much rather stay in Europe.

Re:Higher wages, longer work hours (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23088028)

you definitely don't live in Miami, FL. The one thing I've noticed here over the past 25 years is the cost of living keeps going up and the wages don't really go up at all.

in 1990 the average house cost around $180,000 and for a good programming job you could get about $85k.

now the average house costs around $300,000 and for a good programming job you can get about $85k.

Re:Higher wages, longer work hours (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23090792)

"now the average house costs around $300,000 and for a good programming job you can get about $85k"

If you think that is a lot, you definitely haven't done your home work.

The average UK house price is .... wait for it ... 222,256 pounds [bbc.co.uk] or approximately $440,000. If you want a detached house, the average price is approximately $675,000.

In the south of England the average prices are approximately $600,000 for any house and close to a million USD for a detached house.

And salary wise you are probably looking at similar figures to Miami. But granted you probably get more holiday and spare time.

Re:Higher wages, longer work hours (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094436)

and wait for it...

NHS!

we don't get that at all. My health insurance costs me $1000 a month for my family. which is me and my son. my wife's health insurance is free with her job.

Just the numbers don't tell the whole story... (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23088554)

In Britain, good quality health care is free. In the US, you can't afford it. The same applies to a lot of other things - what happens if your employer goes bankrupt, or your boss sacks you because he doesn't like your haircut? You need to add a lot - maybe 30-50% - to a US salary to get equivalent UK salary.

Re:Just the numbers don't tell the whole story... (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23091022)

In Britain, good quality health care is free. In the US, you can't afford it. The same applies to a lot of other things - what happens if your employer goes bankrupt, or your boss sacks you because he doesn't like your haircut? You need to add a lot - maybe 30-50% - to a US salary to get equivalent UK salary.

Yes, but don't they take the difference out in taxes?

Re:Just the numbers don't tell the whole story... (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23094454)

In Britain, good quality health care is free. In the US, you can't afford it. The same applies to a lot of other things - what happens if your employer goes bankrupt, or your boss sacks you because he doesn't like your haircut? You need to add a lot - maybe 30-50% - to a US salary to get equivalent UK salary.

Yes, but don't they take the difference out in taxes?

Yes, but you also (on average) pay more tax in the US.

Re:Just the numbers don't tell the whole story... (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23093648)

In Britain, good quality health care is free.

No, it's not. It comes out of your taxes, just like all government-supplied services in all countries.

they don't explain properly (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23088730)

See I hate surveys like this, they so give you the wrong info.
Did you know that the price of living in the UK is also higher then here, so guess what that extra 15k a year for developers goes to paying their bills, taxes, mortgages, etc...
In the end, with the Canadian dollar being much higher now then before, we could actually say we are making more money GLOBALLY then they....

Funny how statistics do that... (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23090982)

For the people to whom this survey would actually matter: Kids just out of college deciding where to start their careers. They should be focusing more on the starting salaries, which were consistently higher in the US.

Re:Funny how statistics do that... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096124)

What's the starting salary for the top CS graduates in the USA?

In London (financial capital of the world and all that...) banks will pay £35,000 or more, plus a few £k when you sign your soul over. (This is for IT work). Outside the finance industry, it's about £28-35k-ish in my experience. I think Google are paying about £45k, but the people I know at Google won't tell me exactly.

I don't really know figures for outside London.

To be honest, I don't really care that much -- not enough for it to make me move country: I'll live where I have fun, and I've never found "fun had" to be directly proportional to "money spent". ("Fun" == "London". That's probably why so many people put up with living in a crowded city, that sometimes feels dirty, noisy, wet, and all the rest.)

The PhD I'm applying for pays £16.5k (tax free).

Bottom line (1)

vega80 (852274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23095402)

What I get from this is UK game companies reward good designers more than American game companies do.. and American companies reward good programmers more than UK ones. The net result should be UK games should have better gameplay, and US games should have better graphics.
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