MCV’s 2012 UK Games Industry Salary Survey – The Results

What are you worth? We canvassed 1,000 industry workers about careers, salaries and job prospects. Here are the results.



THIS YEAR, our salary survey shows a sharp rise of over ten per cent in the average UK games industry salary.

Last year we reported the number at 30,667 p.a. – this year it is 33,123 p.a.

Take into account historical data – 2010’s survey said 31,370 p.a., 2009’s was 31,655 p.a. and it’s clear 2011’s dip was a blip, due to a momentarily shrinking industry, as businesses closed and downsized. This year, the recruitment market has more vacancies and opportunities – even in ‘these austere times’.

Before we go further, here’s a little bit of info on how we calculated the big number above. For this number (and all the rest of the averages in this report) we’ve calculated the result using a median average, rather than a mean average, from 597 survey respondents based in the UK out of the total number of respondents of 975.

We canvassed 975 people working in the global games industry – 597 of which worked in the UK. Answers came from all sectors – development, publishing, retail, PR & marketing, services, technology and business development. Ten per cent of respondents were women, in line with the estimated proportion of females working in the trade.

A mean average would otherwise distort the numbers by including the group of very senior, and very well paid, execs who also kindly contributed.

With those high-fliers included the average rises to 35,790 – also slightly up on last year’s total mean average of 34,000.

But this is not the highest we’ve ever recorded incuding senior excutives, which was 2010’s 37,352.

Take into account all the answers from all games industry personnel around the world and the median average rockets up to 34,263 from 2011’s 28,932 (and the mean is up too, at 38,179 from 35,902).

This suggests that right now more junior roles are garnering higher salaries outside the UK than they are inside.

In other words: while the UK has shown marked improvement in average salaries, the employment situation outside of the UK is once again much better. Tough luck.

In line with these changes this year, key roles have seen big changes year-on-year in their average salaries – detail on these can be found below.


Our salary survey shows some shameful statistics, however – namely the disparity between what men and women earn in the UK games industry.

Overall, the average yearly UK games industry salary for women is 30,254.

For men it’s 33,088. That’s a difference of over ten per cent each year.

Or, if you want to boil it down to the hour: men in games earn 1.35 more every hour than women in games on average.

And this is NOT a trend in line with the global market where, in fact, women in games on average earn more than men. Our statistics show the average global games yearly salary for a woman is 35,016, while for men it is 34,537.

So for all the progress that video games have made into the global mainstream, the UK games employment market hasn’t been so progressive.

However, some interesting UK trends can be found when you look at the data per age range (above). In the chart below, you can see that women aged 18-29 actually earn more than 18-29 men in the UK games industry, but that those aged 30 and upwards earn less on average – perhaps suggesting there are a decreased number of opportunities for women the longer they are in their careers.


Store Manager
19,722 p.a.(UP 13% YOY – 2011: 17,500 p.a.)

Shop floor Staff
13,571 p.a.(UP 4% YOY – 2011: 13,000 p.a.)

Despite a tough 12 months for the High Street, there are fractional increases for sales staff and respectable rises for store managers.

We mark much of this down to a falling number of games retailers (elimination of lowest paid would skew the results here higher), and a greater accuracy with more shop floor level staff taking part in the survey.

Data for more senior retail staff varies too wildly for us to calculate firmer averages, because a) there are fewer senior retail personnel in games and b) the pay structures are different between retailers. However, taking into account data like age and location, we have calculated some rough figures for non-store roles: Senior Management: 43,000 p.a., Other head office staff: 33,214 p.a., Head Buyer: 53,125 p.a., Category Manager: 35,000 to 39,000 p.a., Online: 23,928 to 30,833 p.a., Junior marketing role: 25,000 p.a., Entry level buying role: 19,167 p.a.


Distribution Executive
33,333 p.a. (DOWN 13.5% YOY – 2011: 38,570 p.a.)

Creative & Promotional Services
33,000 p.a.(DOWN 1.5% YOY – 2011: 34,285 p.a.)

QA & Testing Exec
18,676 p.a.(DOWN 11% YOY – 2011: 20,830 p.a.)

There’s?little in the way of surprises here. All annual salaries in these ancillary and support roles – plus anecdotal results from other fields like manufacturing and creative outsourcing – have reported year-on-year decreases.

Publishers’ dependency on these specialised areas lowered thanks to the, at times, smaller 2011 release slate. The rise of direct-to-customer products have also dented those sectors that rely on a regular supply of boxed goods.


Senior PR Exec
36,500 p.a. (NO CHANGE YOY – 2011: 36,429 p.a.)

PR Executive
27,500 p.a. (UP 10% – 2011: 25,000 p.a.)

Junior PR
18,333 p.a. (DOWN 15% – 2011: 21,500 p.a.)

No change at the top for the hard working UK games PR bosses, but there has been some real variance for their subordinates. This is down to new younger staff and community manager-style PR roles entering the mix, and more respondents to our survey.

However, when switching from a median to a mean average, the senior PR bosses who participated skew that first number much higher, to 50,000 p.a. Similar analysis shows another increase for mid-level PR execs, up to 30,555. Several prominent UK PR execs changed company or were promoted in 2011 – there’s your proof.


Senior Management
71,429 p.a.(NO CHANGE YOY – 2011: 71,563 p.a.)

Marketing Director
60,000 p.a.(New data for 2012)

Marketing Manager
40,714 p.a.(UP 9% YOY – 2011: 37,188 p.a.)

Product Manager
28,958 p.a.(DOWN 2.5% – 2011: 29,643 p.a.)

Sales Manager
38,281 p.a.(DOWN 7.5% – 2011: 41,364 p.a.)

Senior External Development
53,750 p.a. (NO CHANGE YOY – 2011: 53,750)

Only moderate changes year-on-year for games publisher personnel. It’s perhaps not surprising that senior roles have seen no change, while roles that have depended on the product pipeline decreased during a year with an a quieter-than-average release schedule.

Marketing, however, saw a respectable jump – thanks in part to a higher number of survey contributors this year, and also a more competitive and varied marketing landscape. In the words of one respondent: Last year we had to fight much harder for attention – and some of us were rewarded for our efforts.”


25,000 p.a. (New data for 2012)

Section Editor
20,000 p.a. (DOWN 17% YOY – 2011: 24,166 p.a.)

Staff Writer
17,065 p.a. (DOWN 4.5% YOY – 2011: 17,885 p.a.)

Don’t be fooled by that severe drop for Section Editors – a wider range of survey replies this year, with a higher number of online journalists contributing, suggests our data simply has more clarity than ever, and better reflects an online-driven media, rather than a magazine one. In other words: print is dead, and so are higher salaries.


More detailed analysis for games developer salaries, including development regional breakdowns, will be published soon via

Lead Artist: 38,636 p.a.
Artist: 26,707 p.a.
Junior Artist: 18,055 p.a.

Lead Programmer: 44,868 p.a.
Programmer: 34,166 p.a.
Junior Programmer: 20,000 p.a.

Lead Audio: 42,000 p.a.
Entry level audio role: Starting at 19,318 p.a.

Lead Producer: 52,941 p.a.
Producer: 36,563 p.a.
Producer (External/Publisher-employed):
Junior – 27,500 p.a.
Senior – 41,875 p.a.

Lead Designer: 36,848 p.a.
Designer: 25,300 p.a.
Junior Designer: 19,772 p.a.


Average UK games industry yearly salaries (including development, retail, services and publishing), by region

Scotland 29,318
North East 24,839
North West 29,123
Yorkshire and Humberside 23,472
West Midlands 29,914
East Midlands 28,989
East England 30,286
South West 27,700
South East 30,245
London 37,177

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