One Third of Australian Game Developers Earn Less Than Minimum Wage, Survey Shows

Australian game developers are struggling against poor pay, a lack of job security, and limited opportunities, according to survey data compiled and released by Game Workers Unite Australia ahead of Melbourne International Games Week.

155 developers have completed the survey so far, painting a dismal picture of income and working conditions.

Key takeaways

Asked to rank their major issues with the industry, an incredible 82% of game developers flagged income as their biggest concern, followed by job security at 77%.

Only 30% of game developers surveyed were able to secure full-time, permanent, salaried employment. The rest are a mix of full-time contractors, part-timers and struggling freelancers.

35% of game developers working full time hours in Australia are are earning less than $50,000 per year. A qualified game developer in Australia is entitled to an absolute legal minimum of $49,998 per year, normally more. For many people, this is clearly not happening.

Only 20% of game developers surveyed said that they had no concerns about the stability of their work. A further 43% admitted to having long-term concerns, while the remaining 37% were immediately worried.

A full 70% of game developers surveyed had only been in the industry for up to 5 years. Some developers managed to break the 5-year mark, but only a handful made it up to 10 or more.

Employees are suffering

It's absolutely clear that the game development industry has failed to look after its employees. The industry continues to survive on a myth of being a "dream job" that requires "passion and commitment", while offering many people less than minimum wage and burning them out after only a few short years.

The time has come for Australia's game developers to start pushing back. Whether you've managed to land direct employment, or whether you're contracting from month to month and trying to make ends meet, you need transparency and job security if you're going to make your life better. The only way to do that is to stand together and unionise.

Although we might often be told otherwise, the games industry is not unique. Games workers are facing the same problems that creative industries like TV and video production have faced in the past all across the world, and the solution is the same: working together and insisting on fair pay and fair standards.

GWU Australia will continue running the survey, and periodically release data as more people continued to respond.

We represent more than just developers, and we encourage all game workers in Australia to take the survey – especially if they are a streamer/video creator, a games journalist, a pro player, in PR/marketing, and even if their work does not neatly fit any particular role.

Join the Discord!

We are congregating and organising together on a secure Discord channel where we can talk about our issues.

If you’re a game worker in Australia and unionising is on your mind, join us! Fill out the application form and you will be emailed an invitation link once it’s been reviewed.

Applications are manually approved by our team to ensure security and prevent harassment.

Game Workers Australia is looking to build a union for game developers in Australia and work in tandem with all branches of Game Workers Unite to bring about effective change in the industry.

We seek reform in wages, diminishing crunch, creating transparency in contracts, workplace safety, and bringing about laws to ensure game workers of all kinds recieve their legal workplace benefits.

We are run exclusively by workers (non-employers), but we actively encourage employers, academics, and others to engage in the community and help support the organization's direct action efforts both materially and through their visibility.

We support students, streamers, pro players, public relations, marketing, ads, sales, designers, writers, programmers, artists, producers, QA, localisers, audio, community management, office support, journalists, and more. If you work in games, you are one of us.

Game Developers GWU 10 08 2018 Survey Infographic

Game Developers GWU 10 08 Survey 2018