game industry job ; underpaid ?


Hi guys!

I’ll be soon a 3D school student graduate, and that in the field of video games, and I was worried a bit about getting a job in the game industry.

Why am I worried?.. it,s simple ; I heard many people telling me that they do work over 60hrs a week sometimes, and they don’t get their hour paid, but they get something like a bonus at the end of the year.

Is that true that people don’t get paid their full hours? Is that even legal in Canada ?

I really wonder, how good those ’ bonuses ’ are and if we simply don,t just end up being underpaid as if I only had a Highschool grade.

Anyone willing to clarify the game industry situation for the salaries and how it really works ?

Thank you !


if i were u, i wouldnt worry about the money. people are passionate about what they do in this industry and they are sometimes willing to put the extra unpaid hours on their work. don’t worry about the money too much for now…or else u r not going to survive the competition.


Why shouldn’t he worry about the money? You can not live in this world without the money. I have a passion for it but i wouldn’t work for someone for free. I rather do work on my own if i am not getting paid.

Anyway, i am not really passionate about making games rather more of a film making guy.


This isn’t necessarily true though. Making money is important, for the simple fact that everyone deserves to make a good living. This whole “do it for the passion, not the money” is a touching sentiment, but it doesn’t pay the bills.


yeah, there’s a definate balance that comes with the whole money vs. passion thing.

as far as studios not paying employees for overtime, EA is one of the only one’s i’ve heard of that have taken it to the extreme… or at least one of the only ones that have been called out on it. i’m sure it still goes on in other studios, but i’d assume not to that extreme…


Very much true. People who started the life or hoping for better is the only one I have heared saying “anything will do”. Once you get into the industry you will know how underpaid the job is. Most of the time programmers spend 40+25 on avergare per week. There are times when things are really interesting and you would mind what you do. Sometimes it is better to be at work than at home. But sometimes it just feels so streched out to the limit.


More of an issue recently is fledgling companies actually using the “passion” angle to delay or underpay. It suggests they want free work while they get off the ground, and they may never do that. It sounds cynical, but it’s an unfortunate truth amongst quite a few companies. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have passion and go the extra mile, but passion isn’t enough. You have to be realistic.


do a google search on “EA and over time pay” and you’ll find out a lot. don’t expect to be buying big houses and fast cars with your first game job, or for the first couple years. but from i’ve seen and where i’m at right now, the gaming industry pays well.

while over time pay isn’t very normal around here, bonuses keep that in check sometimes. some studios do the “Sell X amount of Game Y and you make Z amount of Cash.”

loving your job will make your life easier then waking up in a big house and driving you pimped out Hummer to a job you don’t like.


If you say: “I’ll do anything for a job.” Employers will believe you… then hold you to your words. :hmm:


yeah, sorry, the whole passion-thing sounds like the motto of someone in his/her early twenties, naive and still fed by the parents.

basically the payment and work conditions depend on the studio. and not necessarily will the more famous shiny-from-the-outside place pay and treat you better than others. some really seem to have set up a business of taking advantage of fresh employees with no prior industry experience.
the catch is that only those already in the industry know the shit-places and the cozy little goldmines and while they usually are willing to share info about places to go for and places to avoid, they mostly do this inside the industry among their coworkers and friends.
as someone coming from the outside you’ll have one hell of a time in determining which are the good places to go.

my tip for today: avoid those studios who write in their job adverts how talent and enthusiasm is more important to them than experience. imho the translation is: “luckily, you are still clueless about how much money you are worth - oh, and never mind the working hours which are a bit … eh longer than usual”.


This very true, specially when it is time for your annual review and they keep putting it off… and off and off then they tell you to just be glad you even have a job in what you love to do… total BS.


here’s the link

thank you guys for the information… most of you are game develloppers or not in the business ?


Building your resume pay’s off in the future. Sometimes it’s better to work for low pay if your building a sweet portfolio.


Honest truth is, you gotta start somewhere and you have to get that ever elusive “experience.” but don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to get it. I have experienced first hand the effect of being lowballed on your salary. I’ve also seen it happen to many people.
Doesn’t take much time and it doesn’t require a degree in economics to plan out how much it will cost you to live in a specific area and still be comfortable enough that you’re not looking at a second source of income to make ends meet…

My Top 5 suggestions for you are…

  1. Find out what your personal expenses are monthly and yearly. Don’t forget those school loans, if you have them.
  2. If at all possible, never sign a form stating you will remain with any company for “said” amount of time. You will want the freedom to leave when you wish and on your own terms.
  3. Most employee bonuses or royalties are usually not paid to you unless you have been working with that company for at least 1 year.
  4. A great deal of companies will try and tell you that their benefit package(s) more than makes up for your starting low pay…Unless you’re very sick, or plan on having major surgery, the bottom line is. You’re still being “low balled” Benefits are nice, and most game companies offer them as standard “incentives.” But having that money in your pocket can be more valuable than a vision plan, especially if you don’t wear glasses.
  5. It is the JOB of the person hiring you to “get” you for as low of an amount as possible. The goal of any company is to make money, don’t believe me? Ask their investors or “board members.”

YOU HAVE TO NEGOTIATE YOUR SALLARY, if you feel you’re being offered a low amount, then negotiate with them. Tell them what your needs are and how much you NEED to make, not what you WANT to make


Unionizing? I am sorry but that is a terrible idea.


I see you work at DW from your avatar tab, which I’m afraid is slanting your perspective a bit :slight_smile:
From what I’ve heard off a good number of friends in DW and PDI, those are some of the companies with best work hetics, especially in terms of overtime approval and crunch.

the sad truth is that, outside the circle of large top companies that are more union aware in their policies, and especially outside the US, this industry has more example of unpaid overtime, and ridiculous working hours, then it does of human work hetics, and the games industry is usually even worse, even when most base wages are lower and the companies larger.

the company where I work now (RSP) is by far the most ethic and human I’ve worked for insofar (which is stunning if you consider it just went through an upsize and it now numbers well over a hundred people), but before this, especially in London, I think I had more gigs with non paid overtime and long hours then anything else; and lets not even go into what commercials work can turn out to be if you get the wrong director.

I’m totally with Leigh on the fact, as much as personal satisfaction should and does play a major role in deciding about such carreers, one shouldn’t be that ready to roll tits up and take the lashing if it’s possible to do otherwise, especially if you’re in moderately protective areas like north america or Oz; but it’s getting harder rather then easier to find employers with human work policies.


I come from a junior’s perspective, cuz i am a junior and as a junior i have no right to think about money or reflexible working hour… I need to do whatever it takes to survive 5 or even more years of abuse to gain enough experience and hope then i can make some decent money and very minimum over time… that is what i am trying to let raynix understand. raynix is going to be a fresh grad soon and he will have to go through all this just like what iam going through rightnow. Passion is the only thing that is keeping me motivated or else i would of give up long time ago.


You’re really being screwed over. There is nothing wrong with “paying your dues” as a junior artist, but it looks like you’re being taken advantage of, or allowing yourself to be abused for no good reason. There is no necessity to be a martyr when you have no real cause.


put youself in my shoe and think about my situation, and i know many people are in the same situation as me. I dont have enough experience, i gota do what ever it takes to get an oppotunity to get more experience. of cause i would want a job with good paid and no over time but there are so many of my competitors out there that is willing to work for less money or even volunteer to gain experience and work harder than anyone else to stay.


bottom line, if you have talent, you can make money. experiance jsut adds to it.

So if you are in school. and it looks like you may not get that great a job. I would take a low stress job, that pays ok. and spend all your free time working on your reel, at least to the poitn where you can get a job, and not be taken advantage of. I got a very good job after i went to school. but i had been doing this as a hobby for 5 years previous. And after i finished school, i completely trashed my reel except for oen character, and spent 5 months working on a new reel. which did get me this job.