The games industry attracts more creators and specialists each year. However, the question is if they will be able to save enough money and retire, or have to work until their last breath? Here are some insights from developers.
Certain Affinity’s lead animator Robert Morrison asked this question on Twitter because retirement is a topic that game developers don’t usually discuss online. Unfortunately, some answers were really unoptimistic.
Retirement is a dream that might never come true even for recognized developers like Josh Sawyer, famous game designer and studio design director at Obsidian. It’s obviously for financial reasons, as he will still have to be paying for a house he wants to buy when he turns 80.
No. I don’t believe retirement will be an option for me, from a financial perspective, until I am past average life expectancy. I can’t afford to buy a house near where I work and if I became able to in 5 years, I would still be paying it off until I’m 80+. https://t.co/V8fTypkOds
— Josh Sawyer (@jesawyer) April 13, 2021
Retirement from the games industry might seem so hard that some professionals ironically hope to make a big hit that could provide them with enough money.
My retirement plan is to make a hit game. That’s a plan, right? https://t.co/tSjsrjozp8
— Eniko (@Enichan) April 13, 2021
Of course, many developers shared some ironic answers, joking about their future.
Become your favorite FX grandma. I hope.
Possibly indie dev grandma. https://t.co/nOLhAQypWV
— Bryanna Lindsey (@glittervelocity) April 14, 2021
I plan to stage a dramatic fake death, then show up at my own funeral as my estranged child so I can claim a tidy inheritance (including the mysteriously large life insurance) and conveniently continue “my mother’s” performance work without arousing suspicion for the next decade https://t.co/sYvn4lFnMR
— Erika Ishii (@erikaishii) April 13, 2021
The years is 2079.
We celebrate my 90th birthday by letting me push the button that deploys the latest update to live servers.
It causes everyone to crash immediately.
I let out a soft cackle, the last noise my lungs will make. https://t.co/eLDbapzKmd
— Uriah Belletto, Atheon’s Nemesis (@DarkSlayerKi) April 13, 2021
I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain John Epler. https://t.co/UV0BUYragr
— John Epler (@eplerjc) April 13, 2021
However, some developers said that they had a retirement plan. Jane Ng, who worked on Half-Life: Alyx and Firewatch, started an IRA when she got her first job. She also admits to being a “saver since I was a kid.”
I have always been a saver since I was a kid. So it wasn’t a big mental leap to start an IRA right away when I first got a job. I just did auto monthly transfers so I didn’t have to think. Not having student debt obviously helped and having started young reeeeaally helps https://t.co/lohtEzV1zA
— Jane Ng (@thatJaneNg) April 14, 2021
Other developers are driven by their own fears. That’s the case with Katy Hargrove, 3D artist and asset modeler at Warner Brothers Animation, who has been saving money since middle school.
A deep series of fears drives me to save. I’ve aggressively saved towards retirement since I started making money in middle school. One day at work a financial advisor gave me a shocked stare and told me to “live a little”. I still don’t think I will be able to save enough. https://t.co/oFM2wKY70P
— Katy Hargrove (@KatyHargrove) April 14, 2021
Maaike van der Leeden, associate quality designer at EA, admits that she has a retirement fund at work that she pays a percentage every year.
I have a retirement fund through work that I pay a % to, every year when my pay increases I pay more % into it depending on my pay increase, good way to pay more without noticing it. Hope is to retire at 60 and been calculating what I need + social security in mind https://t.co/ErOfnaXyZn
— Maaike (@maaikesww) April 13, 2021
Despite all the problems, some developers try to stay optimistic. For example, Drew Murray from Insomniac Games admits that he gets depressed if he’s not working with people. “Maybe slow down at 70?” he asks.