The serious business of making games


Difficult question to answer. Really depends on your life situation, I suspect. If you’re young with no kids, I think it could be a financially very sensible decision - that was certainly the consensus back at the time when I went to University (at the turn of the century). Once you start adding permanent housing, dependents (family - free daycare, education, healthcare) and especially as you get older (with the mostly inevitably risk of higher healthcare costs), the equation becomes a lot more blurry. I suspect you’d still come out ahead in the US in terms of disposable income, but you’d have a much higher risk of unexpected costs wiping out your advantage.

It also depends a lot on what factors into quality of life for the individual. Is having a big car, boat or a big house things which you need to be happy? I know some people like that - and having that kind of need is extremely expensive in Scandinavia. On the other hand, a work week here really is 37-40 hours/week (not the 45-50 hours work week I encountered in the US for the same jobs) + you get 5-6 weeks of paid vacation + full pay sick leave up to 22 weeks (and pretty OK compensation after for several years, IIRC) + 1 year guaranteed paid maternity leave (shared between the parents) + most people live close to their work (i.e., short commutes) – the work-life balance calculus is just a very different beast in Denmark as compared to the US, at least in my experience. Denmark tends to top “Happiest People in the World” lists (and hasn’t been out of Top-3 in forever), so it’s obviously the right solution for Danes, but not everyone will necessarily think so.


Well, Cliff is considering what the game costs to him, so imo it is perfectly valid, for the sake of getting a ballpark figure to see if he is breaking even or needs to do something else, to take the salary he would be receiving for full time employment into account. That is predicated on the assumption of him being guaranteed to get a job like that, ofc. It maybe overly optimistic in that respect or not.

The salaries you quote are low for the kind of role somebody like Cliff could be a tremendous asset. Yet I need to concede that in taking that salary figure at face value, he is not taking into account:

  1. That he has complete control of what his work is about.
  2. He manages his own time and can structure his time as bests suits his family and the rest of his life.
  3. Doesn’t need to commute.
  4. Doesn’t have to engage in organization politics.
  5. Doesn’t to “pitch” for a project to be green lighted by management.

And probably more I can’t think of right now. Those may be balanced out though:

  1. You need to do a lot of admin work
  2. You need to do the marketing and promotion
  3. You need to do the customer support
  4. You can see your business fucked by somebody thoughtlessly releasing major changes in the way fonts are rendered, or deciding to drop altogether for a key API.

Does the extra multitasking and stress compensate the good bits of going solo? I don’t know, this is something some peeps can deal with, others do not.


That’s a well written answer, you too @Rod_Humble.

It also matches with what I figured. Superficially I am making a much higher salary than the experienced developer Dane, but in terms of what matters I’m not intrinsically better off. I figured the healthcare was a big factor. Hell my last job had fairly average healthcare, but my new one, in terms of benefits, was equivalent to about a $10k raise for benefits alone.


Benefits play a part, but they don’t add up to the salary difference. I think cultural expectations, like @strategy said, play a much bigger role into what a comfortable life looks like.

Some years ago we had a household income of probably about €25k and we were doing fine, going out, eating once a month in expensive restaurants and generally not worrying too much but also not splurging.

Now we are doing much better, but other than paying €200 more for our rental, our lifestyle hasn’t changed that much (I do buy more board games, that’s the only real difference I can think of right now). At €40k personal income you reach the level of not having to look your bank account unless you have some very expensive hobbies (the aforementioned boat). And this is in one of the most expensive cities over here.


Madrid right?

I used to live in a double room in Lavapies, 300 euros a month. Then 30 for electricity, internet etc.

I thought it was a fantastic deal considering how close I was to everything.

I lived in Milton later, a bit out form the centre, paid £350 a month for the same thing…

£800/month for the same thing in zone 1 London (actually a smaller room.)

Madrid strikes me as absurdly cheap for a capital city, but then again I now live in Las Palmas, which is even cheaper…


I lived a few blocks off Retiro.while there and found it amazingly affordable. 200-400 euro per room, great places and walkable neighborhoods, an amazing park to jog in minutes away. This was about a decade ago…


2011 for me, so about the same :).


It’s not as cheap if you want a full apartment and not a room, but yes, compared to London and NY (two other capitals I’ve lived in) it’s a different price range altogether (and housing expenses in Spain are high compared to overall expenses).


Activision’s Plan to Cut Hundreds of Jobs Caps Tumultuous Week


Headlines like this take away too much of the blame from Blizzard. The headline and the story need to make it a point to always say ActivisionBlizzard, and not just Activision. Too many people think Blizzard is just a victim of all of this when bad things happen to them, but they’re not two wholly separate entities. Certain aspects have been allowed to remain more autonomous than others, but they’re still part of the problem.

Just a personal quibble.


Dang, I’m paying more for that for a single room in a shared apartment in the far edge of suburban Portland, about 15 miles from the city.

Hearing those prices for rentals is shocking to me. It definitely helps put things in context.


I rent my spare room out for 200 euros a month and am pretty happy with it.


It’s a little more expensive now. Right now it would be about €400 a month for a nice room in Madrid’s center (within the main public transport system and basically 45 minutes tops from most places in the city). For a good apartment for a couple and a kid, about €900. Of course it gets higher if you want something really good or in a hip neighborhood, but those are prices of nice apartments

But yes, compared to the $1500+ I payed for a studio in an about to be gentrified but not yet area in Brooklyn (it became way more expensive, I hear), it’s stupidly cheap.


I think at some point there is a ceiling in Europe, though- I don’t think you have as much likelihood of making the top-end salaries that you find in the US. At that point you are way ahead.

Also, with kids, a double-room with a fantastic rent quickly becomes very cramped. When I think back to how we lived in Poland, with the living room being a master bedroom at the same time …


Figured this goes here:


I don’t know exactly where this goes, but since I thought it was business related and kinda interesting, I’d share with you fine folk.


Is no o e proofreadingthis stuff anymore?


Not on Forbes, no. I think anyone can publish anything there, as far as I can tell. There’s always dozens of console war click bait articles there all the time for the last few years, for example.


An interesting piece from the AFL-CIO on the games industry:

I’d absolutely love to see game developers gain some union protections, but I work on the boring corporate side of the IT industry and not in the exciting sexy video game industry. So I get regular paychecks but don’t have direct skin in this game.


Oh yeah? I guess I tend to take stuff from Forbes a little more seriously, it being Forbes and all.