With the recent hysteria over Bethesda, working conditions and employee happiness – it got me thinking about if employee well-being really influences the end results of a game. One of the biggest factors of being happy with your job is how much money youre making. Now, this isn’t exactly true and there are a lot of factors that go into making you happy with your job. But more money can make the most intolerable jobs just a little more tolerable for a while. With that, I started digging into how much the top video game publishers are paying their developers and what are their most recent critic reviews.

I was honestly coming into this hoping I would have some hard hitting evidence that more money means higher game reviews. Logically, that seems like it would be pretty accurate. Higher paid employees, better collective expertise, better games right? Well, this isn’t exactly the case and I came across some pretty interesting numbers. All of the information below was gathered from Indeed.com, glassdoor.com, and metacritic.com. I pulled the 5 most recent high profile game releases for several publishers to see where their salaries lined up with their game reviews.

EA Is a Dumpster Fire

EA probably has the most shocking yet not so shocking stat out of the dataset. While they on average have the highest game developer salary, they by far have the worst reviews.

Game reviews include:

EA: Anthem, Battlefield V, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Sims 4, Apex Legends
Bethesda: Evil within2, Fallout 76, Wolfenstein 2, Prey: Mooncrash, ESO: Summerset
Sony: God of war, MLB the Show, Detroit: Become Human, Spiderman, Firewall Zero Hour
Ubisoft: Assassins Creed Odyssey, Division 2, Trials rising, Far Cry: New Dawn

*Excluded remakes/ports and most sports games/expansions

Looking at the above (very nicely put together graphs – definitely didn’t have to google how to make spreadsheet info into a graph) there are 2 striking bits of information to learn. EA and Sony are, on average, paying their game developers the same salaries. But within the last 5 high profile releases, EA is averaging 71.8% critic score and Sony is averaging 84.8%.

Ubisoft and Bethesda are another interesting statistic to look at. While Bethesda game developers on average are being payed $6,000 more a year on than Ubisoft developers, Ubisoft is pulling in 4% higher reviews. It is worth mentioning while Bethesda is on average paying their developers more, Ubisoft has a higher starting pay for their developers.

Ubisoft Starting Developer Pay: $53,000
Bethesda Starting Developer Pay: $44,000

With all of the above information, EA as an exception, you could make an argument that starting pay/average salaries could factor into the final result of a game. Sony is paying their developers very well with the highest pay ceiling to boot – $147,000 to EA’s 2nd best $130,000 and Sony’s games seem to really reflect those dollar amounts. EA on the other hand just can’t seem to translate dollars to reviews. While their stock prices float on a cloud the company just came seem to please the critics. This is scary for video game enthusiasts because all the bad reviews in the world don’t seem to be hurting EA. As long as they are finding ways to please their stockholders things seem like they will continue in their current trend.

If you’re a gaming developer for a AAA company, I’d love to talk to you about your job and how you feel your workplace environment has effected your game scores. Feel free to reach out on our facebook page.

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Author Zach
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