If I asked you how game developers earn a living, you’d probably say, well they make games – duh! But hold on, because the answer isn’t quite that simple. While some developers do earn a living from making their own games, there are so many more ways to make money in the gaming industry. So, how do game developers make money?
- Having A Job In Game Development
- Contracting & Consulting
- Reviewing Other Developers’ Games
- Creating & selling assets for other developers
- Creating Their Own Indie Games
- Porting their games to other platforms
- Licencing their Intelectual Property
- Creating NFTs and Blockchain Content
- Creating Tutorials To Teach Other Game Developers
- Creating Online Courses
- Writing Books
- Speaking At Events
Having A Job In Game Development
One way that game developers make money is by having a job in the industry. Many game developers work at AAA studios, where they are paid a salary for their work. While having a career in game development is low risk, it’s important to note that there are limited positions available at these studios, and competition can be fierce.
To earn a living as a game developer, it’s important to have a range of skills, including programming and design. These skills are highly valued in the industry and can help you land a job at a reputable studio. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that the game development industry is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends to remain competitive.
The key question is, do game developers make a lot of money? Well, according to 2023 data from Glassdoor an average game developer in the United States can expect to earn $73,750 / year, while in the UK it’s £38,825 / year.
Contracting & Consulting
Another way that game developers can supplement their revenue is by contracting and consulting for other companies or studios. This can be a good option for those who are looking to take on additional work on a project-by-project basis rather than committing to a full-time job.
Contracting and consulting can be a great way to diversify your income as a game developer and prevent burnout. It can also be a good way to learn new skills and gain experience working with different teams and on different projects.
However, it’s important to remember that contracting and consulting can also be unpredictable and may not provide the same level of stability as a full-time job. It’s important to consider your goals and priorities carefully before committing to this type of work.
Reviewing Other Developers’ Games
One way that game developers can make money is by reviewing other developers’ games. This can involve playing the games and providing feedback on their gameplay, graphics, and overall quality. This type of work is often referred to as quality assurance (QA) testing.
QA testing can be a great way for game developers to make money while staying up to date with the latest games and trends in the industry. It’s also a good way to gain valuable experience and improve your own skills as a developer by seeing how other developers have approached different design challenges.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that QA testing can be a demanding and time-consuming process, as you may need to play the same game multiple times to identify all of the bugs and issues. It’s also essential to have strong attention to detail and excellent communication skills to effectively report your findings to the development team.
Creating & selling assets for other developers
Another way that game developers can make money is by creating and selling assets for other developers to use in their own games. These assets can include things like 3D models, textures, and other tools that developers can use to save time and resources when creating their games.
One popular platform for selling assets is the Unity Asset Store, which is a marketplace specifically designed for developers using the Unity game engine. This platform allows developers to list their assets for sale, and other developers can purchase them to use in their own projects.
Selling assets can be a great way for game developers to make money on the side, as it allows them to use their skills and expertise to create valuable tools that other developers can use. It can also be a good way to get your work in front of a larger audience and potentially gain exposure for your own projects.
Creating Their Own Indie Games
Game developers can indeed make money by developing games, and one of the top ways to do so is by creating their own indie games. These games are typically developed by small teams or individual developers, often operating on a lower budget and within a shorter development timeframe compared to larger AAA titles.
Indie games allow developers to showcase their skills and creativity, potentially reaching a wide audience and building their reputation within the industry. This can lead to new career opportunities and increased recognition.
To successfully create an indie game, developers need a comprehensive understanding of game design and development, as well as strong project management skills to ensure timely completion and adherence to the budget. Effective marketing skills are also crucial for promoting the game and driving sales.
One popular platform for selling indie games is Steam, where developers can reach millions of potential customers. However, on average, indie developers may earn less than 5k $USD from their games, as they face the challenge of standing out in a crowded market. Additionally, developers must factor in the percentage taken by the platform (e.g., Steam takes a 30% commission on every sale, excluding taxes and refunds) when calculating their profits. If you’re thinking about creating your own commercial indie game, check out our guide: how profitable are indie games?
Another popular avenue for game developers is mobile gaming, where they can create free-to-play games and leverage monetization models such as in-app purchases or advertisements. Free games typically generate revenue through these methods, making them an attractive option for developers. To distribute mobile games, developers can use platforms like the App Store or Google Play.
Porting their games to other platforms
Another way that game developers can make money is by porting their games to other platforms. This can involve adapting a game that was originally developed for one platform, such as PC or console, to be compatible with another platform, such as mobile or VR.
Porting games to other platforms can be a good way to reach a wider audience and potentially increase the revenue from a game. It can also be a good way to build your reputation as a developer and potentially open up new opportunities for your career.
To successfully port a game to another platform, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the technical requirements and limitations of the target platform. It’s also essential to have good project management skills and be able to effectively coordinate the development process.
Overall, porting games to other platforms can be a lucrative way for game developers to make money, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a back catalogue of existing games.
Licencing their Intelectual Property
Another way that game developers can make money is by licensing their intellectual property (IP) to other companies or organizations. This can include things like character designs, game mechanics, or other unique ideas that developers have created.
A historic example of a game licensing its IP is Angry Birds, a mobile game developed by Rovio. The Angry Birds characters were licenced to the makers of toys, t-shirts, plushies and many more items during the height of its popularity.
Licensing your IP can be a great way to generate additional revenue, especially if your IP has gained a strong following or has the potential to be used in other mediums, such as movies or TV shows. It can also be a good way to get your work in front of a larger audience and potentially gain exposure for your own projects.
Creating NFTs and Blockchain Content
Although the initial hype surrounding Blockchain and NFT content, the technology still has a reasonable use case within the gaming industry. As there is already a culture of exclusive digital content being collectable such as trading cards, skins for items and clothing for characters.
Game developers can make money by creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other forms of blockchain content. NFTs are unique digital assets that are stored on a blockchain, and they can represent a wide range of things, including art, music, and even virtual real estate.
Game developers can create NFTs and other blockchain content by using specialized software and platforms. These assets can then be sold to collectors or other interested parties. One of the many platforms for trading gaming NFT content is Fractal – founded by Justin Kanh – the guy who also founded the popular gaming streaming platform Twitch.
Creating Tutorials To Teach Other Game Developers
Another way that game developers can make money is by creating tutorials to teach other game developers. This can be a great way to share your knowledge and experience with others and potentially reach a larger audience.
Game developers can create tutorials on a wide range of topics, including programming, game design, and industry insights. These tutorials can be delivered through a variety of formats, including written articles, video courses, or live workshops.
Creating tutorials can be a lucrative way for game developers to make money, especially if your tutorials are well-received and in demand. It’s also a good way to build your reputation as an expert in your field and potentially open up new opportunities for your career.
To be a successful tutorial creator, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your topic and be able to clearly articulate your ideas. It’s also essential to have good communication skills and be able to effectively convey your message to your audience.
One such successful game dev tutorial creator is Code Monkey, who has built a following of over 450 thousand on his YouTube channel with tutorials for the Unity game engine. What makes Code Monkey unique is that he is a full-time indie game developer and so his tutorials come from real-world experience working on commercial video game projects.
Overall, creating tutorials can be a rewarding and lucrative way for game developers to make money, but it requires strong communication skills, a good understanding of your topic, and a willingness to put in the time and effort to create high-quality content.
Creating Online Courses
Online courses are a powerful tool for game developers to share their expertise and knowledge with a global audience while gaining an extra income stream. There’s high demand for online education. This is especially for game development content.
By leveraging their skills and experience in the game industry, game developers can provide a unique perspective and valuable insights for learners who want to learn more about game design, programming, art, and storytelling.
There are several approaches that game developers can use to deliver their courses, such as video lectures, quizzes, and hands-on projects. These teaching methods can help learners to absorb the material and apply their knowledge to real-world situations.
There are also many platforms that game developers can use to host their courses, such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera.
Another way that game developers can make money is by writing books. This can be a great way to share your knowledge and experience with others and potentially reach a larger audience.
Game developers can write books on a wide range of topics, including game design, programming, and industry insights. These books can be published traditionally or self-published, depending on the developer’s goals and resources.
Self-publishing can be a good option for game developers who want to have more control over the publishing process and retain a higher percentage of the profits. It can also be a good way to get your work in front of a larger audience and potentially gain exposure for your own projects.
However, it’s important to remember that writing a book is a significant undertaking and requires a lot of time, effort, and discipline. It’s also essential to have strong writing skills and a good understanding of your target audience to ensure that your book is well-received.
Speaking At Events
Another way that game developers can make money is by speaking at events. This can be a great way to share your knowledge and experience with others and potentially reach a larger audience.
Game developers can speak at a wide range of events, including industry conferences, workshops, and seminars. These events can be an excellent opportunity to network with others in the industry and potentially gain exposure for your own projects.
To be a successful speaker, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your topic and be able to articulate your ideas clearly. It’s also essential to have good public speaking skills and be comfortable speaking in front of an audience.
Speaking at events can be a lucrative way for game developers to make money, especially if you are able to secure speaking engagements on a regular basis. It’s also a good way to build your reputation as an expert in your field and potentially open up new opportunities for your career.