• August 21st at 5:54pm

    How Much do Video Game Music Composers and Sound Designers Make?

    Game Audio Industry Survey 2016

    August 18, 2016

    The Game Audio Industry Survey tracks compensation, working conditions, contact terms and production information for the video game music and sound industry.  Originally designed to provide a more detailed look into the industry than Gamasutra’s annual salary survey, the Game Audio Industry Survey has grown into the most comprehensive analysis of game audio business and production issues. The goals of the survey are to collect information which:

    • Reflects both the freelancer and employee aspects of our industry
    • Covers the range of games produced, from AAA to Indy.
    • Is relevant to the industry

    The 2016 survey ran from May 15 to June 30, 2016 and was promoted via social media and other game or music industry web sites.  We received 587 responses.  In addition to compensation numbers, we wanted to see what some of the business terms and creative issues were current in game music and sound design. This year, we provided greater breakdown for professional status, with 4% reporting they were “hobbyist or aspirational.” These results have been excluded from the calculation of median and mean compensation, except where as noted.

    New for 2016 are questions covering

    • Income Breakdown by Gender
    • Total Compensation for Freelancers
    • Correlation with experience/years in the industry
    • Use of Union musicians and voice actors

    A Difficult to Define Industry:

    Because the game industry (and therefor game audio) is such a wide and diverse business, we broke things down into three main categories:

    • Large Budget Games.  These are your typical console or well-funded PC titles.  These games are available at retail, and also may be downloadable. Think “HALO”
    • Professionally produced casual games.  These are smaller scale; smaller budget games than the “AAA” large budget games, but nonetheless are professionally developed, produced and marketed. Think “Plants vs Zombies”
    • Indie games.  These are smaller scale games, which are often self-financed or financed through non-traditional means such as kickstarter.

    Of course it is impossible to draw a sharp line between the three categories outlined above.  Nevertheless, we believe it serves as a useful distinction so that we’re not comparing the compensation from a blockbuster like Call of Duty with that of a part-time, 2-person dev company making an iPhone game in their basement.

    1/ Compensation:

    Game Audio is a highly diverse field, and as a result has a lot of variation in compensation.  Although it is convenient to talk about “average” game audio compensation (and we will report that as the “mean”)[1], the median and compensation distribution may be more meaningful, which we present in graphic histogram form.  Note that all compensation numbers are guaranteed compensation, do not include any kind of bonuses, royalties, stock awards, etc, which are reported on separately.

    In order to maximize participation in other areas of the survey, the question on compensation, which some are hesitant to report in a survey, was optional.  106 of the 587 respondents (18%) declined to answer the question on compensation.

    To calculate compensation, we broke respondents into three categories:

    • Salaried Employees companies
    • Freelancers
    • Salaried employees who do freelance work on the side

    We further broke freelancer Work for Hire projects into:

    • Large-budget Game Work for Hire
    • Casual/Indie Work for Hire

    Respondents who listed compensation numbers of 0 were filtered out of all compensation charts, as were entries we determined to be obviously anomalous. For compensation questions, those who reported they were “hobbyists or aspirational” were also filtered out.

    For salaried employees, we report the annual salary, not including bonuses or other compensation (health plan, retirement, stock purchase/options, etc.)

    For freelance/contractors, in addition to total annual income from games, we asked respondents to give us what their compensation is on a per-project basis, not including any potential or realized bonuses/royalties, etc.

    All compensation information is in U.S. Dollars. Note that not all numbers add to 100% due to rounding and because some apparently anomalous respondent data was filtered out.

    [1] “Mean”  is the average: the sum of all numbers divided by the number of entries.  “Median” is the ‘middle number’.  There are as many salaries higher than the median as there are lower. The mean can be skewed by a small number of very high or very low values.

    Annual Income: Salaried Employees (non-freelancer):

    Average (Mean) Yearly Salary: $71,838

    Median Yearly Salary: $64,434

    Average (Mean) Years in Industry: 8.6

    Median Years in Industry: 10

    Salaries again in 2016 have two main peaks, one at around 60,000, and one around 150,000.  Higher salaries tended to be correlated with descriptions such as “management” or “Audio Director.”

    Annual Income vs Experience for Salaried Employees

    As expected, those working in the industry longer generally receive a higher total income, with the highest salaries (> $150,000) going to those with at least 8-12 years experience in the industry.

    Salaried Employees with Freelance Income on the side

    Almost 25% of Salaried employees reported earning additional freelance income on the side

    • Average  “On the side” income: $9,430
    • Median “On the side” income: $4,309

    Note that “On the side” income is NOT included in the graphs above

    Annual Income: Freelancers:

    • Average Yearly Salary: $42,117 (58,291 > 50%)
    • Median Yearly Salary: $9000 (20,000 > 50%)
    • Average Years in Industry: 7.25
    • Median Years in Industry: 5

    Freelancers reported a lower average and median annual income than salaried employees. However, the very highest salaries were obtained by freelancers.

    Average annual income from a game audio freelancer was $42,117; $58,291 when excluding people who made more than half their income from non-audio activities (“day job”).

    Annual Income vs Experience for Freelancers

    As with salaried employees, freelancers working in the industry longer generally receive a higher total income. However the range of income varies much more than for salaried employees. The highest annual incomes were reported by freelancers.

    Salaried Employees by Gender

    The average and median salaries reported overall different by gender significantly. For salaried game audio professionals, average salaries for women were 73% that of mens’ salaries; the median was 69% that of mens’. It should be noted, however that the average and median number of years in the industry also differed. As noted earlier, there is a clear correlation between compensation and number of years in the industry. It should also be noted that women represented approximately 10% of those reporting; the smaller sampling of women’s salaries may cause less accurate results. However, those issues notwithstanding, these results prompted us to look into the data more deeply, which will be presented in a followup posting.

    Salaries (Employees of Companies) for Game Audio by Gender

    Compensation: Freelance “Per Project” fee

    Per project fees varied tremendously, from a low of zero, to a high of over 250,000.  Large budget games of course dominate at the higher end, with Indie games clustered toward the low end. However, there are significant number of Indie games (self-funded, kickstarter, etc.) with per project fees rivaling those of Professionally Produced small scale/casual games.

    Freelance Per Project Fee (USD) by game type

    Compensation: “Per Minute” rates for Composers:

    62% of respondents who provided income information also provided their “most typical” per-minute rate for music. Many of the respondents said they did not charge or calculate on a ‘per minute’ basis, or declined to provide their rate.

    As seen below, “per minute” music composition rates by freelancers varied with the scope of the game developed:

    2/ Work and Environment

    Game Audio professionals are evenly split between freelancers and employees

    41% replied that they were pure freelancers. However, 16% of those who worked as employees (either at a game company or an audio production house) reported earning additional freelance income on the side.

    ¾ of game composers also do sound design

    The chart below shows what percentage of people who compose also provide other services for games.

    Integration & Programming by Composers

  • 47% of composers also did either integration work or some programming or both.
  • 15% of composers also provided scripting or programming work
  • 30% of composers also filled the role of “Audio Director”
    • 34% of game audio professionals are currently working on a Virtual Reality Title

    Platforms include, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR, Gear VR, Hololens and others

    2a/ Work: Getting Gigs

    Like many other music/sound jobs, networking and referrals is one the largest ways game composers and sound designers found either their job with their employer or their last freelance gig.  17% obtained their job or most recent freelance gig through a job posting.  47% were recruited or referred.

    Referrals and previous contacts remain significant ways to find new work. Important for freelancers, networking (via conferences, local events, and on social media) were frequently listed as the way they got their last contract or position.

    3/ Contract Terms

    “Per unit royalties” are uncommon for the big titles

    7% of composers of large-budget games reported receiving payment based on unit sales.  For professionally produced casual, it increases to 10%, for Indie games it increases to 28%

    Soundtrack clauses are becoming more common, though still relatively low

    18% of large-budget composers reported being eligible to receive some share of game soundtrack sales (from 5% in 2015). For indie games, this number is 27%. Professionally produced casual games report only 8% of composers eligible for revenue from soundtrack sales.

    Sales Milestone Bonuses

    Sales milestone bonuses are fixed payments paid when game sales exceed a certain amount; the may be tiered.

    • 5% of large budget games have bonuses for sales milestones
    • 11% of professionally produced small games have sales milestone bonuses
    • 14% of indie composers receive sales milestones bonuses

    “Work for Hire” for Freelancers**

    AAA Games Require “Work for Hire”

    97% of music for large-budget, freelance games is created under Work for Hire. Only 3% worked as a freelancer and licensed their music to large-budget games.

    Professional Casual “Work for Hire”

    85% of freelance composers reported music for professionally produced  non-AAA games was composed under Work for Hire.

    Indie “Work for Hire”

    Freelance composers for “Indie” games reported 45% of music was done under a Work for Hire agreement, while 55% reported licensing their music to the Indie developer.

    **(Note that salaried employees who compose music or otherwise create content are, by definition, working under “Work for Hire”, so their numbers are NOT included above)

    Large budget games more likely to register music with a PRO than smaller games

    • For large budget games, 35% of music was registered with a PRO.
    • For Professionally Produced casual games, 23% of music was registered with a PRO.
    • For Indie games, 28% of music was registered with a PRO.

    Note that any game music may registered with the PRO, if the publisher (typically the game developer or publisher) so desires.

    4/ Music Recording & Use of Live Musicians, Union & Audio Middleware

    Most game music is performed by the composer alone, although slightly more than half large budget games are predominantly recorded by live musicians.

    Among all respondents who delivered music, the overwhelming majority of the music was created by the composer alone.  63% of music was delivered either as completely virtual or as virtual with any real instruments played by the composer personally.

    Among professionally developed large titles (AAA), 38% music is fully live or hybrid score.  41% of the music was created by the composer alone, 21% being created by the composer “virtually” with 4 or fewer live musicians to sweeten the score.

    Live Musician Budgets

    20% of games where music was delivered had a budget specifically to hire live musicians.  The mean budget was $44,961 with a median budget of $7,500.

    Use of Unions in Game Audio

    The use of members of SAG/AFTRA for Voice Over work in games is significant, but not totally ubiquitous. 30% of games reported using SAG/AFTRA Voice Over talent in their projects

    The use of members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is rare. 1.8% of all respondents who delivered music reported they used AFM musicians. Counting only games which used live (non-composer) musicians, 3.8% used AFM musicians. The average budget for live musicians for AFM recorded games was $154,166.

    Use of 3rd party Middleware

    FMOD and Wwise remain the most popular audio middleware, although other solutions such as Fabric, Elias and CRI are growing in popularity

    5/ Education

    Almost ¾  of respondents reported having a bachelor’s degree or higher, just under ¼ reported having had some college or an associate’s degree; 19% reported one or more graduate degrees. (note: The chart below does not count those who reported <25% income from audio).

    Education effect on Income

    It is difficult to draw conclusions on formal education’s impact on income. We report in two ways: first a simple average/median analysis, and then graphically.

    It should be noted that when looking at the above numbers, the relatively small sample sizes for HighSchool/GED and “Associates Degree” make it easy for a small number of outlier points to have an outsized impact on the average and median results.

    To give a better picture of income as a function of education, we have charted income against education and years in the industry. The very highest incomes are generally achieved by those with Bachelor’s degrees or higher (red circles), but not exclusively so. In addition, all “High income” (>$150,000) individuals had at least some college.

    It should be noted that when looking at the above numbers, the relatively small sample sizes for HighSchool/GED and “Associates Degree” make it easy for a small number of outlier points to have an outsize impact on the average and median results.

    Of note is that those reporting “Bachelor’s Degree or higher” tend to have the highest total income, although there is a significant clumping of lower-income Bachelor’s degree holders as well; this may be due to the large percentage (72%) with Bachelors+.

    A bit on statistical validity

    The 2016 Game Audio Survey, like any survey, has inherent limits and biases.  These include, but are not limited to:

    • The survey was publicized via social media and email networks and known audio groups and via some major music industry web sites.  This may bias results towards the ‘more connected’ composers and sound designers in the industry.
    • As noted, compensation questions were optional. for both men and women, just over 81% of respondents provided compensation data.
    • Since surveys with higher numbers of respondents are generally considered to be more accurate, the small number of female respondents (61) compared with overall respondents (587) may mean that numbers for female compensation is less accurate than for the survey overall.
    • A small number of very anomalous looking responses were all or in part discarded.  This may result in pre-conception bias.
    • A very small number of responses were not self-consistent.  These were analyzed manually to determine intent.  This may result in pre-conception bias.
    • In order to increase participation, survey questions directly related to compensation were optional.
    • Some number of participants may have misrepresented their data or mis-interpreted survey questions.

    Thank you to the Game Audio Network Guild

    For assisting in the survey.


    Brian Schmidt

    Executive Director, GameSoundCon


    Facebook: Facebook.com/GameSoundCon

    Twitter:  @GameSound

  • July 21st at 12:42am

    GameSoundCon adds Virtual Reality Day for 2016 Conference
    July 18, 2016

    GameSoundCon features an impressive line-up of presenters and covers new topics in 2016

    GameSoundCon, the premier conference for video game music and sound design, has expanded its 2016 offer with a full day dedicated to Audio for Virtual Reality and another full day on academic and research topics. Sound designers of all levels will come together on Sept 27-28 in Los Angeles for two days packed with sessions, networking opportunities, and hands-on workshops focused on all aspects of game audio, including Virtual Reality in video games.

    Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of GameSoundCon, sees exciting opportunities for game composers and sound designers in the new field of Virtual Reality and its close cousin Augmented Reality. “Virtual Reality is not only taking the game industry by storm, but most other forms of media and entertainment as well. Along with Augmented Reality, VR presents a whole new set of challenges and opportunities for composers and sound designers,” says Schmidt. “Due to the inherently interactive nature of VR and AR, those who are familiar with interactive audio tools such as game composers and sound designers will definitely have a leg-up over those who have only worked in traditional media.”

    Because they work in the field, Schmidt and the impressive line-up of speakers at GameSoundCon pride themselves of being up-to-date on current trends as well as new developments in the industry. To that end, one of the speakers at this year’s GameSoundCon will be Scott Gershin, Technicolor’s Director of Sound Editorial. Gershin has worked on over 100 films and received 26 industry award nominations, including a BAFTA Award for his work on American Beauty, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim and Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. He brings theatrical sound quality standards to bear on a wide range of consumer experiences - from apps and software to blockbuster game titles like Resident Evil, Plants vs. Zombies, Gears of War, Fable, and most recently id Sofware’s Doom. At GameSoundCon, he and Technicolor Sound Supervisor, Viktor Phoenix, will cover advanced techniques and best practices for implementing 3D audio for Virtual Reality

    On day two of the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to hear MTV VMA nominated composer Tom Salta, one of the most versatile and prolific music artists/producers working in film, television, advertising and video games. He and collaborator, Klayton (Celldweller) will speak about the highly interactive Wwise score for Killer Instinct 3. Renowned for crafting emotionally engaging soundtracks for multimedia, Salta has received widespread industry acclaim for his world-class produced scores featured in films and video games such as several titles of the HALO series, Lawbreakers, the Ghost Recon and HAWX series, the Just Dance series, From Dust, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Red Steel (IGN Award for Best Original Score), and many others.

    Additionally, Formosa Interactive’s Vice President of Creative Services, Paul Lipson will share his expertise in composing interactive game scores. Paul is a fixture in the industry, having won numerous awards for his scores and audio work on an extensive list of AAA games such as the Halo series, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Motorsport 5, Iron Man 2, Crimson Dragon, and many more. Paul and his team have been nominated for numerous awards, and recently won Best Original Instrumental at the 2015 GANG Awards.

    GameSoundCon’s 2016 line-up also features notable sound design pioneers, such as Chanel Summers, who was Microsoft’s first audio technical evangelist and a member of the original Xbox team, a widely recognized figure in leading industry organizations, as well as an educator and the published author of a number of articles and technical white papers. Summers is the co-founder of Syndicate 17, an audio production house that specializes in sound design and music for location-based attractions and virtual/mixed reality products including 5D Global’s “Leviathan” which was featured at Sundance New Frontiers Festival 2016 and VRstudios’ “Barking Irons” which debuted at CVR 2016, and serves as a technical consultant to a number of organizations and innovative technology companies. She’ll be talking about creating immersive auditory spaces for virtual and augmented reality.

    Others speakers will teach and talk about how to compose music for games, including Adam Gubman, who scored and composed for more than 550 video game titles of major interactive industry leaders, Caron Weidner, a highly skilled sound designer who has recently worked on games such LawBreakers, Quantum Break, Evolve, Dead Space 3, and Diablo III, and the audio lead at Pop Cap games, Jaclyn Shumate.
    GameSoundCon is a resource for sound designers and composers from Film, TV, music or other traditional media who are looking to widen their skills when it comes to composing music for games, and to game audio professionals who want to learn more about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and other new areas of growth. The conference is held on September 27-28 in the Milliennium Biltmore Hote in Los Angeles, CA. To register, please go to gamesoundcon.com

  • June 10th at 7:21pm

    Video Games Bigger than the Movies? Don't be so certain....

    From GameSoundCon Blog

    You’ve probably seen the headlines over the years in newspapers, blogs and in presentations and discussions.

    image image image image

    It seems like every time you turn around, someone is reporting, announcing or blogging on how “Video games are bigger than the movies"   It’s a statistic that’s been reported and re-reported so many times, few question its veracity.  But is it really the case?  Are “video games bigger than the movies?”

    The answer it turns out is “not even close.” 

    They why, you may ask, has this been taken as gospel for a decade or more?  And didn’t the video game GTA V take in a billion dollars in only three days?

    The answer is fairly straightforward, and it all comes down to how you define the “video game industry” and how you define “movies.”  And that’s the crux of the problem.

    For the purposes of this article, I’m going to confine myself to the US market for both movies and games, because it’s easier to get reliable numbers about both of those industries.  But there is no reason to believe there is a big discrepancy between the US and worldwide markets. (thought that certainly should be checked out)

    You typically hear something like the following:

    The video game industry is a made $22 billion  last year!  Movies made only $10 Billion.  Video games are bigger than the movies! (For example: http://www.stratoserve.com/2011/06/entertainment-video-game-industry-three-times-music-and-double-movie-industry.html)

    Popular statements like that are misleading at best, and are probably better described as “wrong.”

    There are two major problems with the vast majority of these claims.  (As previously noted, data will be from the US market only)

    What does “market” mean?

    The video game industry did indeed make close to $21.5 Billion in the US in 2013.  And the domestic motion picture box office receipts for 2013 were around $10.9 Billion.  So what’s the problem?

    The problem is that the $21 billion number for “video games”, represents the entirety of the video game industry.  It includes not only games themselves, but also gaming hardware: Xboxes, Playstations, Nintendo DS’s.  It includes the sale of peripherals such as extra controllers, gaming headsets, keyboards and mice!  Indeed, pretty much anything related at all to video games.  In other words, all of these: 


    In contrast, the “movie” number typically represents “box office receipts”—theater ticket sales. 

    I.e these:


    So the comparisons given make no sense.  It’s not apples to apples.  More like “apples to entire grocery store.”  Numbers get pretty skewed when you compare a $500 XboxOne with a $9.50 movie ticket.

    So what is a more accurate comparison? 

    If we really want to compare games to the movies, we shouldn’t be counting Xboxes and Controllers and mice and keyboards—We should be counting games—i.e the game content, not the hardware its delivered on.  That’s why they don’t include BluRay or DVD players in the numbers for “movies.”  Or movie theater projection systems for that matter.  They count the movie content in the form of ticket sales.

    So what does game content look like?  As noted, according to the Entertainment Software Association (www.theesa.com), in 2013 the total consumer spend on the games industry was $21.53 Billion.    For 2013, of that 21.5 Billion the amount spent on games themselves was $15.39 Billion.  That $15.4 Billion represents all game content, experienced all ways, whether it’s a AAA Xbox One title or Angry Birds on your phone as well as subscriptions such as World of Warcraft or "fremium” games like Candy Crush Saga and League of Legends.

     That brings us to our second big problem.  We also have to take a closer look at the movie revenue.  According to boxofficemojo (www.boxofficemojo.com), the US domestic box office sales in 2013 were in fact $10.9 Billion.  However, the box office does not represent the entire domestic movie industry revenue.  That’s only theater ticket sales.  What that does not count is the rest of the money the movie industry makes on their content: BluRay & DVD sales, digital downloads, Broadcast, Cable and Streaming royalties, movie rentals. You get the idea.

    According to the Wall Street Journal that revenue is significant.  In fact, it far exceeds movie theater ticket sales.  In 2013, US home entertainment spending, which includes disk & digital sales, broadcast and rentals totaled $18.2 Billion.  Combine that with box office receipts and that puts the “movie industry” at $29.8 Billion.

    So if you’re keeping score, the totals are:

    Game content 2013 US Total Revenue:         $15.4 Billion

    Movie content 2013 US Total Revenue:         $29.1 Billion

    One other item of note: The game numbers listed above include every possible genre of game, from huge blockbusters to tiny indy games.  For an even more accurate comparison of games to movies, we would need to include just about any kind of passive visual entertainment from big-budget blockbuster to YouTube content. 

    But even without doing that, movie content revenue still stands almost 2X game content revenue.

    But wait—Didn’t GTA-V make almost a billion dollars in 3 days?  Surely that makes “games bigger than movies.”

    Let’s take a closer look at that.  It is true that as far as revenue is concerned “opening weekend” for GTA-5 was HUGE. As in Gigantic–enormous and literally record breaking.  The Guinness book of World Records reports that GTA-V had an ‘opening day” sales volume of 11.21 million units in its first 24 hours generating 815.7 Million in revenue.  (note that this includes “pre-sale” units, which are games reserved and paid for before they actually are offered for sale).  And in 3 days it generated over $1Billion in worldwide sales.  [note: we are now talking world-wide numbers, not just US].

    So how does that compare to a movie’s opening weekend?

    “Jurassic World” (2015) currently holds the record for revenue generated on an opening weekend worldwide.  it had an opening worldwide 3-day gross of $511.8 million.  That’s just over half of the $1Billion made by GTA-V over a similar 3-day period.

    However, what happens when we count people?

    At an average price of $72 (many of the early purchases were more expensive ‘special edition versions’), that meant that almost 14 Million people bought GTA-V.

    However, at an average ticket price of $9.50, over 50 million people bought tickets to “Jurassic World.”

    Keeping score again:

    People buying megahit game opening weekend: 14 Million

    People seeing megahit movie opening weekend: 50 Million

    One last bit of context.  The two biggest grossing (Worldwide Box office) movies of all time are Avatar (2.7 Billion) and Titanic ($2.1 Billion).   As of May, 2014, GTA-5 has sold 33 million units.  At $60/unit (a conservative estimate), that is just shy of $2 Billion.  Oh, and that Avatar number of $2.7 Billion?  That’s only the box office.  That doesn’t count DVD/BluRay, streaming, rentals, etc. and all the other income movies can make that games can’t.

    So Video Games’ biggest game of all time is still far shy of the just the box office receipts of the motion picture industry’s biggest movie by any measure except “first 3 days revenue.”

    Don’t get me wrong.  Video games are big and they are growing.  More people are playing them, and they are taking a significant chunk of people’s entertainment dollar.  And yes, measured by “gross dollars of opening weekends,” games are indeed often “bigger than the movies.”

    But the general “games are bigger than movies” claim is only true if you include a whole bunch of stuff in “video games” that you don’t in “movies”, ignore huge amounts of movie revenue, ignore huge numbers of people or otherwise skew the numbers.

    For the record, if you want to compare “game content” with “motion picture box office” (and ignore movie disk, streaming & broadcast revenue) the year in which the U.S. domestic box office receipts were overtaken by video game content sales was 2009, when each had sales of approximately $10.5 billion.

    In the end, let’s just agree that games are a huge recipient of consumer entertainment spending and stop trying to compare ourselves to a very different business.

    GameSoundCon 2016 : September 27-28, Los Angeles CA

    Brian Schmidt is the Executive Director of GameSoundCon, www.GameSoundCon.com


    Industry Data Sources:







     [Edit: fixed typo of “815.7 Billion” to “817.5 Million” when referring to GTA-V’s 24-hour revenue]

    [Edit: updated largest movie opening from Harry Potter 7 (II) to Jurassic World


  • May 9th at 3:38pm

    Game Music in the News

  • October 8th at 12:33am

    Game Audio Job Descriptions: What are companies looking for?

    Over the past dozen or so months, I’ve been copying down job descriptions of sound or music openings in the game industry as well as posting them to the GameSoundCon Facebook Page. In this post, I’ve pulled out the “Requirements” sections for a few and have listed them.

    Just about every posting has something akin to “experience with game audio implementation”, or “knowledge of game audio and how it gets integrated into a game” or “Possess a working understanding of the technical constraints of audio design for GAMES.”

    Game audio definitely begins with a great ear, great compositional skills and the ability to create great sounds using traditional DAW’s, but that’s really only the starting point. The people who are hiring are looking for something above and beyond that.

    This quote from the Senior Audio Manager for Volition, discussing what goes into the hiring process, sums it up:

    I see a lot of applicants applying who emphasize that they are musicians or composers. if that’s all you got, you’ll be outgunned.

    ..if you’ve got other skills that make you valuable, like knowing how to script… or knowing how memory and streaming work, … well, that is awesome, because that sounds like someone I might want to work with.

    Senior Audio Manager, Volition, discussing hiring

    Have a read at what game developers are looking for in their audio people:

    Here’s one:
    Required Skills:
    •Proficiency in designing creative, nuanced sound on schedule. •Proficiency in mixing cinemas with modern audio-post equipment such as Pro Tools, Sound Forge, Vegas, VST, TDM, and RTAS.
    •Extensive experience with audio authoring (FMOD, Wwise) and game implementation techniques (emitters, animation notifies etc.).
    •Experience working in a team environment, providing and receiving feedback.
    •Has shipped a minimum of three titles as a sound designer.
    •Effective verbal and written communication skills. •Good organizational skills.
    •Familiarity developing for multiple game consoles.
    Preferred skills:
    •FMOD Designer. •Pro Tools for Mac. •5.1 mixing. •Field recording: gear, techniques.

    This is for a jr level position–one of the few that doesn’t require “N years working on games” are a pre-req.

    • A detailed understanding of how sound adds dimension, emotion and depth to an entertainment experience.
    • An understanding of audio in games and how it drives the user experience.
    • Ability to track lay and mix audio to both animation and linear footage.
    • Experience in creating soundscapes for interactive audio products.
    • Skilled and proficient in using audio creation and editing software such as Pro tools, Logic, Digital performer, Sound forge etc.
    • Experience in using signal processing and audio plugin technology.
    • Willingness to learn new in-house audio tools and software for integrating content.
    • Ability to keep to schedules and work well under pressure.
    • Self-motivated, working effectively and efficiently.
    • A strong team player with the ability to share skills and experience.
    • A keen interest and passion for sound and music in entertainment.
    • Excellent hearing, for distinguishing sound quality.
    • Able to understand and accept critique in a positive manner.
    • A desire to deliver world class quality audio production.


    • Experience of working in a game studio.
    • Experience of working with Unity 3D engine.
    • Experience of working in kid’s entertainment products.

    Here’s one that requires more experience..

    - Experience shipping AAA titles, great sounding games
    - Some experience in traditional music composition and audio post-production linear content production
    - Deep knowledge of game audio aesthetics and implementation methods
    - Proficiency with modern game development middleware (FMOD, WWise)
    - Must be able to operate Pro Tools as a primary audio editing tool

    And another
    Required skills
    3+ years experience in professional audio design within video game industry.
    At least one previous released game, where you’ve been mainly responsible for the audio
    Proficiency in designing creative, nuanced sound on schedule.
    Proficiency in mixing cinemas with modern audio-post equipment such as Pro Tools, Sound Forge, Vegas, VST, TDM, or RTAS.
    Extensive experience with audio authoring (FMOD, Wwise etc) and game implementation techniques (emitters, animation notifies etc.)
    Preferably worked with implementing sound and music in games built in Unity
    Experience working in a team environment, providing and receiving feedback
    Experience in creating and implementing sounds with limited memory footprint
    Effective english verbal and written communication skills

    Here’s a Jr Position:
    Required Skills
    2+ years of experience creating sound for games and/or multimedia
    Excellent understanding of game audio aesthetics and implementation methods
    Proficiency with modern computer-based audio production tools such as Pro Tools, Logic, Peak, and Sound Forge
    An understanding of traditional studio engineering, audio post production, and location recording techniques
    Excellent communication and organizational skills
    Experience implementing game audio via Audiokinetic WWise is a must

    Another One mid-level position:
    Required Skills
    Experience with CryEngine and FMod, and general knowledge of game audio and how it gets integrated into a game.
    Has released at least one mod in the mod community or shipped one commercial game.
    Some basic sound design skill, and strong organizational skills.
    Huge passion for games and a love of game audio!
    Bonus Points :
    Knowledge of C++
    Excellent troubleshooting skills

    And One More
    Knowledge Requirements
    • Have a minimum of 4 years experience required with at least 2 shipped titles.
    • Create and mix film-quality sound effects through knowledge of relevant audio packages (Pro Tools, Nuendo, Sound Forge, Peak, ect)
    • Possess a working understanding of the technical constraints of audio design for GAMES
    • Hands on experience using proprietary and/or custom game audio tools on a shipped title (e.g. SCREAM, Xact, Wwise, FMOD, ect)
    • Ability to work well and respond to pressure while communicating effectively in a large group/multiple project environment
    • Quickly master proprietary tools and development processes.

    Preferred Qualifications
    • Experience composing, arranging, and recording music of various styles is a plus.
    • Knowledge of recording setups and ability to plan and lead field recording sessions.
    • Experience with Dialog, voice direction and actor management

    This one requires “many years playing video games”

    Minimum of 5 years professional experience in Sound Design in the video game industry. Demos will be requested.
    A diploma in Sound Design is an asset.
    The ideal candidate is expected to have many years experience playing video games on consoles and have acquired a good understanding of current sound quality standards;
    Moreover, the ideal candidate should be a team player; have a strong sense of creativity, analysis and synthesis; be hard-working; have effective interpersonal skills; and have strong organizational skills;
    The ideal candidate must also be able to easily create and understand sound environments of video games.

    Lead Audio Designer

    • Ability to work with Pro Tools and other DAW/audio editing suites.
    • Prior WWise and Unreal Editor experience
    • Strong sense of audio design for sound effects, Foley, and ambience.
    • Proven compositional ability in both traditional orchestral settings as well as more modern popular styles a plus.
    • Three years of game industry experience in a lead audio designer capacity.
    • Shipped at least one AAA title as a lead audio designer (multiplatform a plus).
    • Solid organizational, managerial, leadership, and time management skills
    • Strong written and verbal communications skills.
    • A passion for making games.
    • A portfolio of work that demonstrates these qualities.Proven skills and a unique artistic “voice” in terms of communicating and furthering a storyline via the medium of sound

    Video Game Sound Designer

    • Experience specifically in creating outstanding soundscapes and sound assets for video games
    • Experience designing sounds for fantasy genre of games
    • Experience with creature and spell sound design
    • Experience doing live recording sessions both in the studio and in the field
    • Experience creatively producing sound effects, backgrounds, and foley for games and / or animation
    • Experience editing and conforming sound-to-picture
    • Experience mixing in stereo and surround-sound formats
    • Experience working with both commercial and proprietary audio, and implementation tools on multiple platforms and workstations, including Pro Tools
    • Able to work with equal effectiveness solo and as part of a project team
    • Experience using and troubleshooting Windows and Macintosh operating systems
    • Game audio production credits on multiple major shipped titles
    • Development experience with MMOs
    • Experience playing World of Warcraft
    • “Building block DSP” such as Kyma, Max / MSP, or Reaktor expertise
    • Computer-readable or level-design style scripting or light programming knowledge
    • Experience developing games that use FMod