Events, Game Music, Music Production, Software

2016 Survey sheds light on the Game Audio Profession

August 24, 2016 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook 2016 Survey sheds light on the Game Audio Professionon Twitter


The results of the third annual Game Audio Industry Survey — conducted by the GameSoundCon organizers with the help of the Game Audio Network Guild — have been tabulated and analyzed for 2016. Between May and June 587 individual respondents working in games audio reported on compensation, work environment, contract terms, use of live musicians and education to shed new light on the industry landscape. I wanted to pull out some of the more fascinating findings but the full report, available here, offers much more technical insight for those working in the industry or trying to break in. Let’s take a look.


On compensation, the survey found the average annual income for salaried employees to be $71,838 with nearly 25% of those employees also making an average of over $9,000 on freelance work “on the side”. Full-time freelancers reported an average annual income of $42,117 although the highest individual salaries were obtained by freelancers working on self and crowd-funded indie projects. The average number of years spent working in the industry was very similar with salaried employees having been on the job for 8.6 years and freelancers averaging 7.25 years.

As one might still expect to hear, the salary split between male and female professionals remains unfortunately lopsided. The average salary for a female is reportedly 73% that of her male counterpart, though GameSoundCon is quick to point out some caveats. The correlation between salary and number of years in the industry effects the figure regardless of gender and of the 587 respondents only 61 were female. This has caused the group to take a closer look at the data who have promised a follow up post on their blog with more details.



Dealing with work and environment the study found that most composers also take on additional audio related duties. The most common is sound design which 76% of respondents said they perform in addition to composing. Nearly half of the respondents (47%) also work on audio middleware integration with the most popular tools remaining FMOD and Wwise. The foundation for these broad skills is education with almost 75% of respondents having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher; 19% reported one or more graduate degrees.

While composers spread their talents across several fields they are largely the sole individual creating the music. Of those surveyed 63% create all of the music either virtually or with instruments they play themselves. In “AAA” productions the split narrows between sole compositions (41%) and those recorded with live musicians (51%) but the opposite is true for games with smaller budgets. In small and independent titles 79% of the music is created by a single individual.

If these figures piqued your interest you’ll definitely want to check out the full 17-page report. And if you are an audio professional working in the games industry you may also be interested in GameSoundCon itself which is happening in Los Angeles on September 27th and 28th.

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