Becoming Rich as a Game Designer
The thought of a career as a video game designer is full of excitement and intrigue. However, many aspiring game designers contemplate whether a decision to pursue this career will provide them with financial stability. Does game design provide an opportunity for wealth? Or are successful game designers few and far between?
Can you become rich as a game designer? Although it may take years of hard work, it is possible to become rich as a game designer. However, many professional video game designers admit that their career is not the most stable. While a successful game may make you a millionaire overnight, your next game may not provide the same results.
So, how much does a game designer make each year? Are there ways to work towards wealth in the field of game design? Keep reading to learn more about how to turn your passion for design into a lucrative career.
How to Become Rich As a Game Designer
While a career in game design certainly has the potential to produce great wealth, success in this field requires an undeniable passion for video game culture, creation, and design. Although there have been game designers who have become incredibly successful after releasing their first game, this is certainly not the experience of most aspiring designers.
On their path to success, many of the top game designers in the field today spent years working under the direction of video game design studios. Often working long days to finish a project before its deadline. During this stage of their career, they needed to maintain a strong passion for game design to fuel their work.
If your primary goal in a career is wealth, game design is likely not the best choice for you. However, even as an entry-level game designer today, there are plenty of opportunities to earn a good salary while working your way towards higher-paying positions.
Average Salary of a Video Game Designer
The majority of game designers in the industry today make what most would call a middle-class salary. Game design is a complicated career. While you may release a top-selling game that makes you a millionaire overnight, you may also spend several years following your success working towards your next project.
Because of this, game design salary statistics can become confusing. It’s important to look at the big picture when it comes to an average salary of a game designer, not simply looking at the amount of money they have made from their best-selling game.
When you work as a video game designer with a design studio, your salary will be a bit more predictable. It is estimated that an entry-level game designer working for a design studio will make around $50,000 a year in 2020. Some senior game designers, however, will make a salary of over $100,000 in 2020.
Several factors impact the amount of money you can make while working for a design studio including where the studio is located, the types of projects you are working on, your position within the studio, and more.
So, once you earn an entry-level position as a game designer, how do you work your way towards a higher-paying position? Unlike other careers, game designers are not usually promoted simply because they have been in a position for a set number of years. While some game designers may move through the ranks quickly, others may remain in an entry-level position for several years.
In the field of game design, promotions are typically awarded to individuals who produce high-quality work, display responsibility for their project, and continue to grow in their technical skills and abilities. Because of this, entry-level game designers often dedicate much of their time to improving in their individual areas in an attempt to earn their next promotion.
Fortunately, there are a few proven methods for working your way towards a higher salary as a game designer.
Work Your Way Through the Ranks
An aspiring game designer must understand that they will most likely not be awarded a senior position within their first 5 years in the industry. Even the most successful game designers have worked their way through the ranks, earning the coveted positions of lead designers on a project.
Hard work, passion, and dedication are some of the most important qualities for an entry-level game designer to display. Trusting the process and having patience as you work towards your goals will allow you to learn the skills you need to truly succeed once you become a senior game designer.
Higher Education Equals Higher Pay
Game design studios value education. While many aspects of game design can be self-taught, there is great value in pursuing additional training. If you are looking to earn a higher salary as an entry-level game designer, consider earning a degree in an applicable program.
Even learning a skill like programming or improving upon other areas of your position can make you more valuable as a team member. In most cases, this will translate into a higher salary. As an aspiring game designer, it is important to invest your time into skills that will increase your value once you begin to apply for entry-level positions.
Best Way to Become Rich As a Game Designer
Now, while they are certainly an exception, there are a few game designers that have become truly wealthy through game design. A prime example being Markus Persson, more commonly known as Notch. Markus has an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion. How did he generate so much wealth as a game designer? One word: Minecraft.
Markus Persson followed the path that many of the most wealthy game designers have followed: create a best-selling game, publish your own game, sell the company that published the game. With just the right combination of hard work, passion, and a bit of luck, Markus Persson became one of the richest game designers in the world.
Create a High-Quality Video Game
The first step to becoming rich as a game designer is to create a best-selling game. This may sound simple but any game designer will be quick to tell you that it is much harder than you would expect. Markus Persson set out to create Minecraft as a hobby project, little did he know that it would later become one of the most successful video games of all time.
Publish Your Successful Game Through Your Own Studio
Many game designers create their own games. In fact, many of the games are successful too! However, the key to becoming wealthy through a successful video game is to publish the game through your own studio. When you sell your game to a studio before publishing, you will not have the opportunity to capitalize on its eventual success.
If Markus Persson had published Minecraft through any other studio, he would not be where he is today.
Sell Your Game Design Studio
Mojang, Markus Persson’s studio, was sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. At the time of sale, Markus owned 71% of the game design studio. This is how he became truly wealthy. However, in order to sell your studio for such a high price, you must have a company that is bound for success. Deals like this truly happen once in a lifetime.
While the majority of game designers will not have the incredible success of Markus Persson, it is important to realize that it is possible to become insanely rich through the field of game design. Even a career as a senior game designer with a top studio can provide you with an exciting career with a great salary.
Is Game Design a Promising Career?
While the video game industry certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, the amount of interest in pursuing game design as a career is also increasing. Game design is often referred to as a cyclical industry. Much like other industries, the need for game designers ebbs and flows.
When the demand for game designers is high, you are more likely to find a position with a high-paying salary. However, when the field becomes saturated, it is harder to find a position that pays top dollar.
This is just another reason why it is so important to have a true passion for video game design if you choose to pursue this as a lifetime career. For aspiring individuals that are unswayed by the uncertainty that is common in this field, game design can become an enjoyable, exciting, and financially rewarding position.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in game design, work to gain experience through freelance work, internships, and hobby projects. Increase your value as a game designer by learning skills that will help you integrate into a professional studio. Lastly, knowing the right people can get you far in the field of game design. Place yourself in a community of game designers, learn from their knowledge and network as much as possible.
With hard work, dedication, and a passion for game design that is unswayed, you can create a lucrative career to last a lifetime.