Gamasutra, the game industry website run by UBM Tech (who are also responsible for GDC), have released their annual Game Developer Salary Survey. With over 4000 responses from developers worldwide, the results show that while it’s still possible to make a healthy living in the gaming industry, independent developers and women have it rough.

Perhaps the most worrying thing to come out of this survey is that solo indies’ salaries dropped to $11,812, which is down 49% from 2012. The only upside, potentially, is that the mobile market has been dramatically shifted by Flappy Bird and other games: solo indies may have a shot on mobile with quickly-made games that don’t require top-notch production values, as long as they can pull in ad revenue.

flappy birds image

However team-based independent developers are starting to make more money, with an average salary of $50,833 – up 161% from the year before ($19,487). Even so, the average standard salaried game developer makes $83,060 in the US, so this is still lagging behind what the standard corporate structure can offer. It’s higher than the European average of $46,232, though.

The numbers may be skewed upward toward the successful indies: 57% of indie devs made under $500 in game sales. 2% made above $200,000.

The gender gap showed that women made, on average, 86 cents on the dollar compared to men. Though this varies by discipline: women in QA make 4 cents on the dollar more, and designers only 6 cents on the dollar less. Audio and art make 32 and 27 cents on the dollar less respectively. On the whole, though, compared to the US average of 77 cents on the dollar. While not perfect, the games industry is at least but better in this regard.

The entire results are worth a read – you can click here to read a PDF of all the results with some commentary from those surveyed.