You have been playing games for a long time now. With each new gameplay, you enjoy the production, are moved by the storyline and are captivated by the gameplay. So, you decide that if you are going to pursue a career, you want a career in the gaming industry. After specializing in your work field, you start looking for jobs within the industry. You find Gamesmith, which handles the middle ground between professionals who want to enter the gaming market and companies looking for those high-spirited professionals.
Under the video game jobs section of Gamesmith, you find numerous openings for designers, artists, QA, writers, animators, developers, and others. When you browse through it, dream video game jobs pop everywhere. Their descriptions extol the beauty of the duty, and you see all your wishes within your grasp. Some are even remote work, meaning you can trade commute to playtime. So you craft the best resume ever, go through various stages and phases of the hiring process (without using a walkthrough), and when you reach the last boss, they use their special attack: this is the salary for this job.
Critical hit. You collapse and see all your expectations slipping through your fingers. After all, as a grown-up, you have bills to pay, and that salary barely covers them.
What to do? Why did you have to go through this whole process, create expectations, only to see them shattered by the salary that could have broken down earlier in the process?
Why don’t game studios post salary expectations on job openings?
There are a few reasons for this, and to illustrate the reality, let’s talk about the two sides of the coin. The only thing better than video game jobs available to rising gaming professionals is having video game jobs with a transparent salary that covers our expenses and keeps our heads fresh so we can extrapolate our creativity and pour it into the game that – hopefully – we will be working on.
What’s the difficulty in advertising wages on a job opening?
Although the focus is on video game jobs, the reality of unadvertised salary on vacancies extends throughout the market. But is it really that important to put salary on a job opening?
According to a Glassdoor study, 67% of the surveyed think so.
So why do companies don’t advertise wages? According to them, the answer is the same when we face a breakup: it’s complicated.
One of the reasons companies avoid putting salaries on a job opening is the fear that the wage will frustrate and cause resentment among its current employees. If a company is going to hire another professional with the same position, it’s expected that the salary will be similar. What happens when the job listed pays more than what one already does inside the company? Should the employee reapply for it?
Companies compete, so another reason is that posting salary on game job openings can lead your competitors to poach your best talent by offering higher wages or more benefits. However, one of the most common reasons not to advertise salary is because companies withhold information to leverage the negotiation. A case in point is if a candidate comes from a remote location where the living cost is lower. Game studios assume this candidate would be more likely to accept a lower salary than someone who lives in the heart of Times Square and pays a bigger rent.
Whether or not you agree with these reasons – which will probably vary according to your reality – corporate transparency can solve the absence of salary on the job opening and most corporate problems. Suppose the company has difficulty disclosing or strongly believes employees will use the pay posted solely as a bargaining chip. In that case, the problem is probably deep-rooted in the company structure as a whole.
Pay transparency can not only shield – though not wholly – the company from the problems aforementioned, it can set precedents for solving other issues and create a healthier work environment in the process.
Gaming professionals are forming a party!
While some companies struggle to post salaries on game jobs, game professionals are banding together to promote a more transparent environment for the industry. Blizzard employees created a spreadsheet and shared it to protest wage disparities. The anonymous document claimed that “Most of the raises are below 10%, significantly less than Blizzard employees said they expected following the study.” While this doesn’t directly concern salaries advertised in job postings, it shows how a lack of transparency and talking openly about money can hurt a company as a whole.
Just this year, game developers threw the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to promote industry transparency further. By disclosing their salaries, developers want to level the playing field by normalizing the talk of compensation, breaking the belief that it’s wrong to talk about how much you are paid. In this way, developers join themselves in a self-made union to helps gamers ultimately.
Game Salary Calculator!
What you need is a benchmark to make sure you are not entering a career that meets your salary expectations or simply to make sure you’re not leaving cash on the table.. One resource at hand is the Game Salary Calculator at Gamesmith where salaries are collected anonymously and then your salary is measured against industry standards and user input to show if you are above or below the mean average. At the moment the game salary calculator is only for the USA and USD but there are plans to move to the wider market soon. Go to Gamesmith and under tools you will find the game salary calculator. Input your job and compare it, to benchmark your salary!
Benefits of companies advertising their salary at job openings
While talking about transparency and coming up with workable solutions like “just advertise the salary on the job at once” seems easy, there are still many reservations about this in practice. But if you, the company, fear your competitor will steal your top talent or that you will lose on the leverage game, and professionals will take the opportunity to extract every last drop of pay, know that there are extra advantages about being transparent beyond professional well-being.
Developers and studios that publish the salary next to the position are already building an inviting environment for professionals and empowering their brand. Excellent professionals are more discerning – not that entry-level ones aren’t – and if they need to pick one company to join, possibly the transparent company that treats its employees with dignity will have a headstart over the other that still cling to secrecy and archaic attitudes.
As the employee enters a company that starts promoting transparency by posting a salary on a job opening, it also facilitates communication during their stay at work. A company needs to address subjects like wages, bonuses, and benefits honestly. And also on more critical issues such as reducing the gender wage gap, diversity, and inclusion.
Eddy Ng, the Smith Professor of Equity and Inclusion in Business at Queen’s University, Canada, says that managers who claim to be serious about diversity, equity, and inclusion may want to take a second look at how their company actually communicates that in job listings. “If I know a company publicises compensation, it conveys a message to me that this employer tries to be fair,” explains “On top of that, it also helps build trust.” – Hi, Alex. Murillo Here. This is a direct quotation from the BBC article, so I don’t know if we should keep it or not.
The game industry has to level up
You may have seen news reports about how harmful the practice of crunch is to employees, although some – quite a few – are overpaid or get future time off. But when you mix crunch plus bad wages, it’s a recipe for disaster. In 2019, Beck Hallstedt turned to Twitter to shine a light on crunch practice on top of poor salaries. Hallstedt said, “I know crunch is the big thing to criticize in games, but please, please, please talk about how bad wages are too. People are living in their cars and pulling out loans to pay rent because of this stuff.”
Only when issues like these are made public that companies and their employees take action to change and evolve the entire spectrum of the game industry. According to a 2019 survey from International Game Developers Association, many respondents reported working crunch time, and only 8% received extra pay for those hours. Other statistics point out that most self-employed respondents said they worked full-time (75%), and many (55%) reported that 90% to 100% of their income came from their work in the game industry. However, they were not making much money. Nearly half (43%) reported that their annual income in the previous year (2018) from game-related work was less than $15K.
Self-employment is inherently different from filling a vacancy, and we know the issue presented here is about advertising a salary in a job post. But it just shows how the game industry as a whole holds problems and needs improvement. What we can say is that posting salaries in job openings, although some companies still have to break ideological and structural barriers, is a significant first step towards complete transparency and making the games industry evolve as a whole.