Jan 07 2023

8 Ways Game Developers Earn Money

Gabe Nelson


When developing games, it is common to have a desire to create a game that one has always wanted to play. However, as a game developer grows in their skills, education, and knowledge of the industry, they may wish to start earning money through their work. While there are several ways for game developers to earn money, such as collaborating with other developers, using crowdsourcing, working for other companies, or selling tools they have created, these options can be unpredictable in terms of success. Additionally, game developers at smaller companies in the US tend to earn between $41,000 and $54,000, while those at larger companies can earn between $60,000 and $100,000, depending on their level of experience. In Europe, the pay range for game developers is typically between €37,000 and €49,000, and in Canada it is typically between $48,000 and $85,000.


Game developers may receive a salary when working for a larger studio, or they may need to supplement their income by doing side work in order to support their game development efforts. Some of the most successful games are created by small studios consisting of a group of friends who are dedicated to making their game a reality, or who have been contracted by a larger studio to create a game.

How much do game developers working for a company typically earn?


The salary of a game developer working for a company can vary significantly, depending on the size of the company and the individual's level of experience. On average, a game developer can earn anywhere from $28,000 to $110,000 per year. Entry-level positions tend to pay on the lower end of this scale, while more experienced game developers may earn higher salaries. Many game developers choose to work for different studios over the course of their career in order to increase their pay. Indie game developers may face more fluctuating salaries until they release a successful game and establish themselves in the industry. Some indie game developers may start their own studios, but this can lead to either a steady income stream from investors and sales, or to further financial insecurity as they struggle to secure funding and build a following.

Where is the best place for game developers to sell their games?


Indie game developers often use crowdsourced funding to publish their games while working on them in their spare time, in the hopes of eventually creating their own small studio full-time. However, whether a game developer is creating games for personal enjoyment or with the goal of financial success, it is important to consider where to sell the finished product. Some successful game developers are able to publish their games for free and still make a profit, while others may need to explore different options for selling their games in order to make a living.

1- Competitions are events where game developers can compete against each other for prizes or recognition.


Participating in gaming competitions can be intimidating for young game developers, but they can be a great way to gain experience and find funding for their projects. Even if they do not win a prize, many game developers are able to use their competition entries as a stepping stone to further develop and sell their games on multiple platforms. In some cases, the first prize in a competition may be the opportunity to fully develop a game at a studio, which can allow the developer to focus all their efforts on the project.


2- Humble Store


Humble Store is a platform that sells a variety of games and ebooks. They prefer that the games they sell are DRM-free, and the revenue generated is split between the developers (75%), charities (10%), and Humble Store (15%). They also provide the Humble Widget, a tool that allows developers to sell their products directly through their own websites. If you are interested in publishing your game on the Humble Store, you can sign up on their website. Humble Store gained popularity through their Humble Bundles and has been in operation since 2010.


3- Indie Game Stand


Indie Game Stand is a distribution platform that specializes in indie games. One of the benefits of publishing on this platform is that the audience is specifically interested in indie games. They offer several options for game developers, including a place in the Indie Game Store (with 75% of gross revenue going to the developers), pay-what-you-want deals (with 70% of gross revenue going to the developers), distribution for free games and demos, and a widget for direct sales on developers' websites (with a 5% cut).


4- Itch.io


Itch.io is a popular store for game developers due to its involvement in game jams and the level of control it offers developers. It allows developers to customize their game page, distribute games for free, publish them as pay-what-you-want with a minimum price, and even host embedded games made with Flash, Unity, Java, and HTML5. Developers can choose what percentage of their sales goes to Itch.io. The store has grown significantly in popularity in recent months.


5- GameJolt 


GameJolt is a platform that is primarily known for hosting free games, but it also has its own marketplace with favorable conditions for game developers. Developers can choose pay-what-you-want or fixed prices and set the percentage of revenue that goes to GameJolt, as long as it is less than 10%. The platform allows developers to sell games in development with early access and also offers the option to sell assets from the game, such as artwork or the original sound track. This is a platform worth considering for game developers.


6- Steam


Steam is a popular platform for game developers to sell their games, but it can be challenging to break into such a competitive market. There are costs associated with listing a game on Steam and developers must adhere to certain regulations. However, if a game becomes popular or is recommended to others, it can gain a large player base. It is important for game developers to ensure that their game is fully developed and ready for release when publishing on Steam, as games that are released in early access may never leave that phase. For indie developers working on a passion project, it may be more beneficial to list the game on a free platform instead.


7- Good Old Games (GOG)


Good Old Games (GOG) is a platform that offers a wide selection of games and allows game developers to list their games for free. This is a popular option for indie game developers as it allows them to gain recognition and notoriety without incurring any costs. GOG has gained a steady following and allows users to link multiple gaming accounts, making it a convenient all-in-one hub for many gamers. As a result, listing a game on GOG may increase the chances that it will be seen by a larger audience.


8 - Their own website


Game developers can also sell their games on their own website, although it may be more effective to use this option in conjunction with other platforms unless the developer has a large and dedicated community. There are stores that offer widgets to handle card payments and payment platforms such as Paypal or Stripe can also be used. Some developers may prefer Stripe over Paypal due to its lower fees and lack of hidden charges.



Earning a living as a game developer can be challenging, but with enough experience and dedication, it is possible to make progress in the industry. Many game developers may become discouraged when they first start out due to the difficulty of breaking into the field, but consistent work and perseverance can help them advance.

Tags: Earn Money for a Game Developer