How to make money as a game developer

Is it really possible to make money as a game developer?

Yes, it absolutely is possible to make a respectable living on game dev alone, through self employment and remote work through services like Upwork, whether you are a beginner or an advanced expert. You can earn 90 grand a year if you have the right resume. Or as a beginner, you can make a living at this, with a future, instead of slaving away at McDonalds for similar wages.

It is everything from a high paying career, to helping the working Joe put food on his family’s table with a side hustle on Upwork. You can set your own hours and work at your own pace.

Wait though, let’s skip a step, let’s say you got the money, here’s stuff to spend it on:

Check out Character Creator 3, alpha tier character designer.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Character Models, find some high quality 3D models, and your wallet will drain like the plumber has arrived.

And if you want the nicest environment I’ve ever seen, <—– HERE.

How do game developers make money?

Most of them sell their games online on services like STEAM, Epic Games Store, GOG, Playstation Network and so-forth, through direct sales, microtransactions, and advertising.

How much money do game developers make per game?

If your game sells for 60 dollars for wholesale, your development company will probably take home 30-35 bucks of that, at least, for a AAA game.

Do game developers make alot of money?

Depending on your skill level, you can earn anything from 50+ bucks an hour, or even 90+ at a big corporation, or for a more middling developer, 25 bucks an hour is average. For a beginner, you can find entry level work for 6 – 14 dollars an hour, and if your game is a hit, the sky is the limit.

So how do you earn money as a game dev?

There are lots of ways to make money as a game developer, from self publishing, to self employment, to employment at a corporation. You don’t technically need a degree, or a hefty education, you can make money at all levels of game dev ability. However, that said….

Oh hey, check out this article from Gamesradar on how to get started as an indie dev.


Study Computer Science, or Software Engineering.


You can learn everything you need to know just by experimenting on your own, or learning on the internet. You can even check out our subscription service, right here. It’s like Netflix for learning game design, you can learn how make games from scratch right here.

What not to study:

But let me elaborate. Game Programming Courses won’t teach you anything you can’t learn on your own, or right here, and more importantly, they don’t get you the job. You might gain some momentary advantage over someone with no education at all, but honestly not very much.

What to study

If you study Computer Science, or Software Engineering, then a big company will happily hire you out of college for a high paying game dev job, a big house, a two car garage, a beautiful big family, and everything you ever wanted. You don’t even need to make games to be rich beyond belief with that degree, but if that’s your thing, then make games and get rich doing it.

Topics to pick up along the way

You need to get good with Unreal Engine, and Unity Engine, try both, learn both, then go with the one you want, Unreal Engine.

Learn C# and C++, and Python. That will give you a nice edge in your game design career.

Get good with math, vector math, translation, rotation, scale, momentum, physics, collision, materials, animation, AI, UI, level design, game theory, design docs, graphics engines, 3d modeling, mobile phone development, VR development, inheritance, polymorphism, and object oriented programming.

Study lighting for at least 3 months. Maybe just study lighting

How to make money

  • Self Publishing
  • Finding a Publisher
  • Self Employment
  • Employment in a Corporation

Self Publishing

There are lots of ways to self publish your game. The easiest of all is Steam. Steam will publish damn near anything that isn’t a political hotbutton topic of the day. Just pay them 120 dollars and they’ll give you a partner account and you can sell your games on their platform, if your game is good, people WILL buy it. You can make real serious money off Steam, and not just hobby bucks. You can finance your own corporation from just Steam sales. But there’s also Epic Games Store, and GOG, and , and all kinds of stuff actually…. Sky’s the limit for self publishing.

Finding a Publisher

You can pretty easily cut a deal with a publisher to sell your game if it’s good enough. You just give them a percent of the sales and they’ll handle your marketing, advertising, sales, etc.

But you need to be on a pretty professional level before they’ll consider you, so be warned if you’re still new to this.

Self Employment

Definitely, if you haven’t been snatched up by a corporation for your computer science degree, but you CAN make games, then your best bet to make money and build connections is through self employment. Sorry to interject with my own story but I found a great deal of success working through Upwork.

They have all kinds of jobs, from the most entry level you could imagine, to high level professional grade jobs that pay upwards of 45 dollars an hour, more if you’re good enough.

It’s also a great way to make connections and build up your resume so you’re more likely to get hired on by a big corp. They don’t just have game design stuff here, you can do almost any kind of remote work through upwork if you have the ability in your chosen field. Perfect for the pandemic actually, a very good side hustle with the potential for full time well paid employment.

Employment in a Corporation

For this, you should have a degree in computer science or software engineering. Grants are not as difficult as you think, in Ontario the government will borderline pay for you to go through college, you’ll be stuck with a fraction of the cost of your tuition, if you pay anything at all, and you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Prepare to buy your son a condo for his 21st birthday.

If not, you can still find work there, they’ve petitioned me for jobs from time to time, I never got any of them, but they were interested and they called me in for interviews, but the standards are very high, and I also had no portfolio piece of any value. Speaking of which.

Your Portfolio Piece

Here’s your chance to land that high-paying job without a computer science degree, or a bunch of professional experience, or whatever. If you have a good enough portfolio piece, they will recognize it’s quality. If it is professional quality work, they are always hiring.

At the end of the day, these corporations only care about raw skill, the reason they seek after these degrees is because they demonstrate skill, if you got your skill from another source, they don’t care. If you know your stuff, and you can make amazing games, yes even Rockstar will hire you.

So build your portfolio piece, this will also help you immensely on upwork. I can think of a few occasions when I had some high paying work lined up, and all I needed was my portfolio piece. That was also when I learned the Unity game won’t build correctly. I lost that work, but I would have got it if that game had been running, and the person playing it could see that someone with skill made this game.

Buy Game Resources

I cannot overstate how much you need to do this. You can never have enough resources. You need tools, characters, clothing, accessories, weapons, development frameworks, asset packs, environments, levels, music, the works. Everything you’re going to put into the game, so get as much stuff on the Unreal or Unity asset stores as you possibly can.

First buy up the core resources you’ll build your game with, in Unreal, pick a full project you can base your game on, these can range anywhere from 30 to 400 bucks. If you get a good framework, you’ll save a lot of development time. Buy tools and utilities and systems that will comprise your game, get them all working together.

Your next priority, you’ll need characters, levels, visual stuff. When your levels are filled with lots of pretty characters, and the levels are big and interesting, and your core gameplay mechanics are working well, you’re well on your way to making your first real game.

Don’t forget about music

And don’t neglect music, your game will feel empty without beautiful music, so go on Humble Bundle and pick up one of their big royalty free music packs, or even just get an account with Envato Elements, and you’ll have as many free sound effects and musical works as you could possibly require.


There are so many ways to make money as a game developer. If you’re smart you’ll go for that Computer Science Degree, and you’ll be on easy street for the rest of your life, earning obscene amounts of money for a 60 work week at EA.

If you’re clever, you can learn and specialize all the skills needed to get hired on by a big company without the aid of a computer science or software engineering degree. It’s not as easy, but if you have the raw skill it’s doable. I have friends who have done this. They’re pulling in 90 grand a year, and they’re just a normal programmer.

If you’re like the rest of us, you dabble in programming, you like making games, you’ve built games growing up, you think you have a really good game you want to make but you haven’t proven it yet, then…. You don’t have to work at McDonalds, you can find entry level work and get the same wages doing something that actually matters to you.

It is my job to write about videogames, and develop games on my own so I can write articles about it. It is a respectable job I genuinely enjoy. I can set my own hours and work as much as I feel I need to. I can ramp up my hours to full time and make the same amount I would have made as a security guard, except instead of doing something I don’t want to do, I’m doing precisely the thing I’ve always wanted to do. I develop games professionally, and write about it. With a future and the possibility of advancement.

Being stuck in a minimum wage food service job is one of the most oppressive and unhappy experiences a person can go through. I do not exaggerate when I say that Game dev saved me from a lifetime of that. I am doing something I genuinely enjoy, and making a decent wage which can feed my wife and baby.

It’s a blue collar revolution, as far as I’m concerned, and in this new covid economy, why go to some workplace every day, when you can sit at home, and work from home, and be with your family and your kids. Remote work is the future. Game dev is solid remote work, you don’t even need to be that skilled. Game dev can save you from what would otherwise be a lifetime in food service, or security, or retail.

Don’t underestimate it.

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