Is making games a wise career choice?
In the 10 years that I have been teaching how to make games, I have been asked this question scores of times by people who are really interested in a career making games, and even by concerned parents whose children play video games and are interested in making them for a living.
Some variations of the same question:
> How does the game industry compare with the Software industry in general?
> What is the future outlook for the game industry?
> Is it possible to earn well in the game industry (in India and abroad), and if so...
> What kind of salary can I earn in the Game Industry?
These are all very valid questions that need to be asked, and in this post I will answer all of them, but first I'd like to make some clarifications about what is considered the "Games Industry".
> Games are software!! A video game is essentially a program that runs on a device (a phone, PC, console), but uses a large number of assets such a sounds, art assets and animations and also needs more processing power that the average software application.
> ALL mobile games are APPS, but not all APPS are games! So if you hear the team 'App Development', it includes mobile games as well.
Generally, when one hears the term "Software Industry", it is not the same as the game industry, but there are many commonalities between the two, and they could be considered as 'Cousins' Games are arguably the most complex examples of software out there, and there is always a steady stream of people who switch between the two.
I know many people who started off in the Games Industry and then moved to the Software Industry, and vice versa.
Now that we have that out of the way, let us look at some numbers.
This is pretty amazing; games is by far the biggest entertainment industry on the planet, and bigger than the Movie and Music industries...combined! The below figure shows the 2020 games market broken up into platforms.
And here is a short term forecast for the worldwide game industry; as you can see, it is predicted to grow at 9% per annum, which is pretty amazing considering its massive size.
In addition to what is traditionally considered the "Game Industry", there is an Elephant in the Gaming Room that I'd like to talk about, and that is Gamification.
Gamification is the application of game design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.; It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements.
A well-known example of gamification outside of video games is Airline Frequent Flyer Programs; customers are rewarded for loyalty to a particular airline in several innovative ways.
Gamification is now almost universal; the gamification revolution is spreading to many processes and fields, some of which are listed below-
Shopping and Retail
Education and training
Healthcare and fitness
Mobile applications (Zomato for example)
Websites (Tripadvisor for example)
A conservative estimate is that from around $9 Billion in 2020, the gamification industry is going to grow to around $30 Billion in 2025.
Companies such as Byju's in India have successfully implemented gamification of education to become worth more than a Billion dollars; in fact, most of the designers and artists there are from the Game Industry.
The good news is that when you become part of the game industry, all these opportunities open up to you! There is much in common between the Game Industry and Gamification Industry, as follows:
User Experience Design
User Interface Design
3D and 2D art
Programming languages like Java
Game engines such as Unity
It is quite common for people to go back and forth between the Game Industry and companies that implement Gamification; so whenever you hear the term "Game Industry", remember that it is much more than video games.
Now let's talk money and salaries.
I have done a comparison of Game Developer and Software Developer salaries (in India) on Glassdoor:
At the time of writing this blog post, a game developer ears an average salary that is 18% MORE than an average software developer in India!
The game industry may be smaller than the software industry in terms of absolute numbers, but it is arguably more rewarding. Performance is rewarded well in the game industry, and those with passion and dedication can progress quite quickly in terms of promotions and salary hikes. It is also one of the few places for highly-paid creative positions; game company creative directors are among the most highly paid in the industry.
Several companies like Electronic Arts (India) also have a variable/performance-based salary component; if the company hits it's annual targets, the employee gets a sizable bonus payment which can be anywhere between 5% and 20% of one's annual salary or company shares.
Based on my own observations and research, here are some average salaries by experience in the Game Industry in India.
Entry level- Rs.25,000/- to 30,000/-per month
2 years experience- Rs.60,000/- to 70,000/- per month
5 years experience- Rs.100,000/- to 120,000/- per month
10+ years experience Rs.200,000/- and upwards per month
In some cases, I have seen highly skilled people with little experience get big salary jumps; for example- Game artists with 2 years experience getting 9 Lacs plus per annum. I know these stories because I help and mentor students to get jobs and get ahead in their game careers, and salary negotiations are a big part of that.
So to conclude, the Game Industry is a SOLID career choice. To wind up, here is an article about the 13 BEST JOBS FOR THE FUTURE; take a look at which is No.1!!!