Riding the Lollercoaster

When you say that the ideal candidate has nine years of experience and will be responsible for your online message, your product’s online look and feel, your communication with customers, your first contact with disgruntled customers, a team of not less than two other people and possibly a dozen, contributing to your marketing strategy, managing live events, and building global partnerships…

…you cannot seriously think you’ll only pay that person fifty fucking grand a year.

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41 Comments

  1. Breed said,

    January 29, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    But you’ll Luv the game soooo much that money wouldn’t reaaaallllllyyyyy matter.

    That’s definitely a 6 figure job, unless the game is projecting to not have that large of a user base. Then it really doesn’t matter. 😉

    You did leave of the hint of a hint of stock options for everyone if,and when they ever go “public”.

  2. January 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    They’re probably only pay the majority of developers 40K…

  3. grouchygamer said,

    January 29, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Which is why the industry is having a hard time maturing. People are underpaid and asked to work long hours during crunches. That’s fine if you are 20-something and single. Once you get your chops and you have some real development skills, why wouldn’t you get a job with a 40-hour week that pays double?

  4. Servitor said,

    January 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    What are you talking about? That’s an awesome salary. By like, Bolivian standards.

  5. Micah S. said,

    January 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I think that deep down they would really love to find a way to outsource that job, dwespite that fact that that would be utterly insane. But you have to figure somewhere in the back of some suit’s head there is the thought that ‘Hey Dell sent all their CS to India, why can’t we?’

  6. Arrakiv said,

    January 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Yeah, that seems about right. A glance towards the salary figures for the game industry that CMP likes to publish yearly shows the rather low pay scales across the board pretty clearly. It doesn’t help, though, that there’s plenty of people who want in and a limited number of jobs. Not that I’m helping matters any. 😉

    Of course, I’ve gotten the feeling that community people/people in similar jobs seem to lack a lot of attention and acknowledgment for what they do. Then again, I’ve never actually held a job in the field, so I could be wrong – but, it certainly doesn’t seem that way.

  7. Retina said,

    January 29, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Wow, just wow. Nice slap in the face there.

  8. Matt said,

    January 29, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I don’t know which company posted this, but in places with a high cost of living, rookie programmer salaries start higher than that. But, you know, they’re programmers. It should take everyone else 9 years to catch up.

  9. IainC said,

    January 29, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    @Arrakiv.
    Ah the stories I could tell… And I’ve only been doing this gig for four years. A nine year veteran would be a singularity of pure cynicism ringed by an event horizon that no altruism can penetrate.

  10. Michael said,

    January 29, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    I wouldn’t call this a slap in the face.

    This is Sparta! I mean this is market. They listed what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it. Will then find someone? Who knows. Maybe someone’s situation will force them to take this job. Things happen. One can hope.

    And guess what. If they need to fill this position and nobody applies, they’ll have to raise the price. That’s all. =)

  11. Calaruis said,

    January 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    This make me want to get out my ROFLCoptor and fly around their office.

  12. TPRJones said,

    January 30, 2008 at 1:34 am

    “If they need to fill this position and nobody applies, they’ll have to raise the price.”

    More likley they’ll start lowering the experience requirements until they finally hire somoene incapable of doing the job who will eventually horribly mangle their public image.

  13. Dave Rickey said,

    January 30, 2008 at 1:56 am

    @IainC: (waves). I took my first MMO job (CS for EQ1) in March of 1999. I’ll do teaching for beer money (I’m actually in class right now), but that’s as far as it goes.

    –Dave

  14. Arrakiv said,

    January 30, 2008 at 5:09 am

    @IanC: Heh, I enjoy the way you put that. I guess my observations have been correct then.

    That’s a shame. Seems ironic, considering how important community is. That’s even more true when games are going online so much more and community-based content/gameplay/networks are/are getting so popular and promenant.

  15. Tateru Nino said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    @TPRJones That’s more usually the case.

    Although the industry is full of people being paid half what they’re worth. It’s nature’s way of balancing out the fact that there are certain people being paid three and four times what they’re worth. You know the ones 🙂

  16. Surley Scarab said,

    January 30, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    @ Matt Man, don’t let that cost of living boost fool you like it fooled me, when I moved to the DC area (pronounced err-ee-uh). Yeah, the salaries are higher but they do not make up for the increased cost of living.

  17. GreyPawn said,

    January 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    “…you cannot seriously think you’ll only pay that person fifty fucking grand a year.”

    I totally wanted to comment on this two ways, so I will!

    A) Fifty grand a year, PLUS free sodas!
    B) Without intending to open mouth/insert foot, but according to the stack of W-2’s in the cabinet – YES. YOU CAN. And by you, I mean the various companies with the 12ish dead weight pyramid-structure worshipping producers per project earning 2x what the CM does. Fifty is a given. In fact, it is far, far less in a non-MMO development environment or on the East Coast.

  18. Sanya said,

    January 30, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Sure, GP – and that’s why you’re going to start seeing the actual seasoned professionals working for Pepperidge Farm and Olay and Dove and TruTv. Because a previous poster was quite correct – our industry as it exists at this time won’t raise the salaries, they’ll just relax their requirements and then wonder why their community is being handled by an amateur.

  19. Jeremy Dalberg said,

    January 30, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    FREE sodas? Who gives free sodas? Are they hiring?

    Quarter apiece everywhere I’ve worked!

  20. Jonathan Hanna said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Sanya is right. They’ll fill the position, but they’ll get someone with only 3 years experience (if that) and then six months later wonder why their entire community strategy consists of posting on message boards and occasionally updating a website. Of course, what’s even sadder is often that’s all they want from the community team – until it’s too late.

    Oh and we get free soda at Kaneva. 😉

  21. Apache said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Aren’t most jobs a little more segmented than that these days? It’s rare to have so many overlapping roles in a big company. If its a little company, odds are that’s all they can afford. 🙂

  22. tannenburg said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    It’s endemic in IT companies. Customer support is the last budget item. It’s interesting, however, how companies like Dell have been forced to switch their support strategies from “cheap at half the price” outsourcing to more hands-on direct support as customer dissatisfaction has reached new highs. For a while, cheap support works for a company – after all, one customer leaving because of bad service does not kill the bottom line – and maximizes profits. However, over time the customer base as a whole erodes until the company is left with few customers and a horrible reputation.

    In the end, crappy customer service only lasts in monopolistic or oligarchical market segments. Service at the DMV sucks because that’s the only place you can get a driver’s license. Service from your Generic Wireless Telephone Provider sucks because there’s no real difference between companies.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out with MMORPGs; in my own (biased) personal experience, I’m far more willing to play a game which isn’t the most snazzy new thing if the customer support is solid (I’m thinking DAOC here, where customer info was prompt, bug fixes taken seriously, and stability a priority) versus an unresponsive or lackadaisical response to complaints.

    In the end you get what you paid for – and the customer will vote with his or her pocketbook. There’s enough games available out there with roughly similar features not to pay close attention to the intangibles of customer support.

  23. Kitashla said,

    January 31, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    It’s like that practically everywhere right now. There’s a couple of places around here that want graphic designers with 10+ years experience, willing to work 55 to 60 hours a week, no benefits and actually think that $25K is more than fair. Really, it’s kind of disgusting.

    ~Kelorna

  24. Numtini said,

    January 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    That’s actually about what I would expect a job like that to pay. It’s why I’ve never bothered to look into working for a gaming company.

  25. Apache said,

    January 31, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    depends on location too. here in Phx that’s great money, but I doubt you could make rent in SF/LA, etc on that dough.

  26. Parizad said,

    January 31, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I thought slavery was outlawed? Hmmm…

  27. Calaruis said,

    January 31, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I thought slavery was outlawed? Hmmm…
    It’s not slavery. Slaves are allowed to sleep.

  28. Ashendarei said,

    February 1, 2008 at 1:21 am

    the really sad thing is that there are ALOT of people out there who would gladly take the job for 50k, simply because it’s the field they want to be in. That’s where experience should DEFINATELY factor in for a significant portion of your salary IMO.

  29. Flim said,

    February 1, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Was thinking 50k isn’t that bad, then I realised it’s dollars…

    You get job adverts like that in all industries though: asking for a market leading programmer with 10 years of experience in the programming language du jour (that was only released last year) and we’ll pay them 20 pence a millenia.

    Wonder if it’s just a cover for a job they already have someone (read: bosses nephew) to do but are legally required to advertise for.

  30. mythago said,

    February 3, 2008 at 3:57 am

    grouchygamer (and others) got it in one.

    Mr. Mythago is old enough to remember nethack, and has been told by various IT types that he isn’t likely to get a game programming job, essentially because he isn’t young, dumb and desperate enough to work 90-hour weeks in return for free coffee and a pat on the ass.

  31. Michael said,

    February 3, 2008 at 6:21 am

    “More likely they’ll start lowering the experience requirements until they finally hire someone incapable of doing the job who will eventually horribly mangle their public image.”

    Quite possible. Still, what does it matter? Companies open, companies close. People go out of business for all sorts of reasons, how is this one worse than any other.

    They are being stupid and rest assured they will be punished. =) Personally I can’t bring myself to be outraged over this.

  32. Jeremy Dalberg said,

    February 4, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Michael, do you work in community management? When it isn’t your career path, it’s easy not to care.

  33. Michael said,

    February 7, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    This is a very strange dismissal you are giving me. Yes, community management is not my chosen career. How does this relate to the topic at hand? I assure you that those with the same occupation as myself, have also encountered similar problems. It is mystifying that you would think that only those who hire community managers happen to dream of getting a well qualified person to work for peanuts. It is most certainly a common phenomenon.

    And just to reiterate what I said earlier: it is the company that will eventually have to either adjust its ways or close its doors. A qualified professional will always find a job.

  34. Jeremy Dalberg said,

    February 7, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Sure, at… $50k a year. Or have to leave the industry. As long as they keep adjusting expectations downwards rather than adjusting salaries upwards, CMs will continue to have a 2 to 5-year career followed by either departure from the field or departure from the industry. It’s depressing.

  35. UnSub said,

    February 8, 2008 at 2:02 am

    If the CM boss is earning $50k a year, how much are the two other people on the team earning?

  36. Garthilk said,

    February 12, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Funny enough, you could have probably made that much money running a very successful 3rd party fansite.

  37. =j said,

    February 14, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    UnSub: What makes you think there is anyone else on the team?

  38. Apache said,

    February 18, 2008 at 5:58 am

    It is a pretty challenging job but it really does depend on where it is located.

    Cost of living expenses aside; lets say I get really drunk and ask for something crazy at 3am my time.

    Until I get to sleep, my request is going to pretty dang urgent, at least to me.

    Until my little errant is complete I’m going to be hypercritical of whoever is in charge of your PR department.

    Odds are — most of the times — it’ll be an insane attempt to placate my ego, but that’s just part of the job.

    You can go ahead to put that in your resume; as a couple of readers are might already be familar with me by now.

    Thank you and good night.

  39. blachawk said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    What do you guys think is a reasonable salary?

    Entry-level military officers have responsibilities that are much more demanding, yet they make about 40 grand a year.

    Teachers who have incrdibly demanding jobs often make mid-30s.

    “will be responsible for your online message, your product’s online look and feel, your communication with customers, your first contact with disgruntled customers, a team of not less than two other people and possibly a dozen”

    Sounds like a pretty sweet deal for more than $4,000 a month.

  40. sanyaweathers said,

    February 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    You’re right, blachawk… and mercy me, I do think you’ve identified the reason promising young officers flee the military and become “contractors” for five times the salary.

  41. Just Dave said,

    March 12, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    If this were for an entry-level position, that comparison might have some kind of relevance. You’re honestly proposing that the equivalent – an experience military officer, with a ten-year history, well-spoken and skilled at handling civilians and the civilian press, all while -still- having an outstanding track record in the military virtues and requirements of command, is -also- going to be making 40k a year? Not to mention potential free/reduced cost room and board, differential pay, reduced taxes from overseash postings, etc…I’d never suggest that anyone in the military is raking in the dough from their service, but your example is apples to oranges.

    Teachers making 30k (or less) a year is not a counter argument, it’s a goddamned travesty. That’s a separate issue that needs to be fixed, and the solution is not to make everyopne else butt-ass poor also.

    And it would be a sweet deal, but after taxes, benefits, SS, retirement if you have it, the take-home on 50k is nowhere near 4k a month. Even if you’re not planning for the future at all, 4k a month take-home is pretty far north of 50k a year gross.


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