Perception of SWE in Gaming Industry?

Microsoft s9@
Feb 7 105 Comments

Have an offer for a SWE position in Microsoft Xbox group. L61, TC $180k.

I'm still quite green and wondering if this is a good move career wise.

I've read that SWE in the game industry is paid poor TC, which means poor talent and I'm concerned that will affect my career. When interviewing, almost everyone on my panel has been in the organization for >10 years, which is another bad sign. How does the larger tech community view SWEs working in the game industry?

I'm currently at Amazon but want to leave. So I have push factors.

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TOP 105 Comments
  • Amazon jacksap
    If people stay on more than ten years how is that a bad sign?
    Feb 7 15
    • Valve ShTW84
      Exactly, mid-level position at FANG. Sorry to offend your sensibilities hbdik.
      Feb 8
    • Facebook hphpd
      Haha don't apologize to hbdik, I'm sorry they wandered out of their cage to misunderstand and snap at you 🙄
      Feb 9
    • Amazon / Product ehensudie
      @shTW84 which are these gaming unicorns in Seattle that you’re referring to?
      Feb 14
    • Valve ShTW84
      Valve, Bungie, 343 (a little bit of crunch culture there though). Not sure about ArenaNet/Pokemon/Monolith, they’re good sized but I’ve got no idea of their work culture/comp structure.
      Feb 14
    • IGT / Ops mr z
      Hmm staying in same company for long is not good anymore? I know people whom worked for 30+ years in ours, started from bottom... I'm on 8th year, but I do feel that I were trapped, made lateral move recently, gonna break out once I'm done with Masters program. But will try internal big jump first. And yeah, we deal with other "gaming"...
      Mar 8
  • Same perception as a gamer gets in real life. (unless you are ninja)
    Feb 7 4
    • Oscar FYxs32
      “Unless you are ninja” didn’t realize they let 12yos on blind now
      Feb 8
    • That guy is a multi millionaire. Richer than most of us.
      Feb 8
    • Zynga hmmpf
      Ninja is the name of a millionaire gamer 🤦🏼‍♂️
      Mar 8
    • Twitch ~-~
      Who?
      Mar 9
  • Microsoft ujRW20
    I don't understand. If you're working on console or building services, those skills translate to any SWE. "I've read that SWE in the game industry is paid poor TC", Xbox pays the same as the rest of the company. Your idea of SWE in gaming seems to be of game developers. Unless you're working in Studios as a game dev(where you may be paid less because that's the game dev industry), pretty much everything you said doesn't apply
    Feb 7 4
    • Microsoft ucSV13
      This is basically what I was trying to parse from op.
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Yes this part is confusing. Most of my searches online suggest that the game industry prey on the fact that it's a fun job and offer low TC. However my offer is in line with MSFT TC, so I was puzzled too.
      Feb 7
    • Amazon
      suspendfun

      Amazon

      PRE
      Microsoft
      suspendfunmore
      It’s because most gaming studios aren’t in corporate umbrellas like Microsoft, probably one of the best companies to work for and be in games.
      Feb 7
    • Amazon
      suspendfun

      Amazon

      PRE
      Microsoft
      suspendfunmore
      And FWIW I worked at one of the studios.
      Feb 7
  • New / R&D zorkan
    My perception is that the game industry works with outdated tech stacks, but they do impressive things with what they have.

    I think overall it doesn't look great on a resume, but it doesn't have to look bad. A lot of it depends on the success of your team and the technologies you use.
    Feb 7 3
    • New / Mgmt VSwf01
      Stack is not outdated, they are just optimizing for performance and carefully picking their constraints.
      Feb 8
    • New / R&D zorkan
      I would say many game studios ignore performance optimization in favor of faster content creation pipelines (eg; Bethesda game engine is ancient, buggy, ect..). Hell some console games even have crap performance on the baseline consoles -eg; not much QA on baseline versions of ps4/Xbox one.
      Feb 8
    • Epic Games / Eng
      uSko17

      Epic Games Eng

      PRE
      Unity Technologies
      uSko17more
      Valve still uses PHP for their webstack. At Epic we lag behind a little in some areas, but are pretty cutting edge on game engine features, rendering, and also some language and scripting areas. Clearly from Fortnite we are executing scale well with infra, but there is a ton I'd like to change internally. Game servers and services are a very specialized problem
      Feb 16
  • SendGrid girvssi
    game programming is much harder than writing stupid react apps or whatever flavor of the month framework
    Feb 7 1
  • Indeed / Eng on 🔥
    As others mentioned already, Microsoft is not a 'gaming company', your comp and resume would be fine
    Feb 7 7
    • Intuit b7x1s
      Why not just opt to take a more traditional SWE role then?

      My very first SWE job put me on a path of specialization within SWE that I couldn’t change the narrative of now (not game development, btw). I wouldn’t change it, since I’m happy with it — but really, think about this.

      People might view you as a “game development SWE” once you choose your next gig. Some may not. But be thoughtful in your choice. Good luck!
      Feb 7
    • OpenText / Eng FBstockLOL
      I was stuck as a “fraud prevention” SWE for a while.
      Feb 7
    • Amazon
      beedoop

      Amazon

      BIO
      Brb bio.
      beedoopmore
      Game studio: yes. Platform: hell no. But if you don’t feel like one of the lucky few who get to work on Xbox please don’t go. The main reason to work there is to work with passionate people and folks who think it’s just another job should fuck right off.
      Feb 8
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Ok... Are you salty even after leaving AMZN? Sorry, but passion is BS and is used to exploit people to pay low TC. Thats why many articles I read about game studios pay low TC. Passion right? Can you eat passion? Will passion pay your bills?

      I'm joining a team to do kick-ass work and high impact. Or maybe to use your lingo my passion is to overdeliver and grow TC.
      Feb 8
    • Amazon
      beedoop

      Amazon

      BIO
      Brb bio.
      beedoopmore
      I didn’t leave amazon.
      I left Xbox.

      I left when it got taken over by Sinovsky’s douchewads from Windows or Office who saw it as an opportunity to advance their career and their TC and couldn’t care less about games after we killed it with the 360. It’s over now but the damage is done. The steaming pile of shit that is the XBONE is the result. XBONE and the PR catastrophe around it is what happens when people who don’t have any passion for the space run the show. Given your TC, I most likely spent more time in Xbox than you had in your whole career and got rewarded well for it. So yeah passion pays the bills. Handsomely at that. Go work in windows if you want to grow TC and have “High impact synergies”.
      Feb 8
  • Microsoft Hiudb
    Xbox is very competitive. You should expect the following:
    -Fast promos
    -High churn
    -Long hours (especially during crunch)

    Only take it if you like games
    Feb 7 0
  • Microsoft Micr0s0ft
    Your skills will become irrelevant.
    Feb 7 1
    • Epic Games / Eng
      uSko17

      Epic Games Eng

      PRE
      Unity Technologies
      uSko17more
      Not necessarily. Lots of ML, k8s, AR tech. Lots of transferrable skills, not to mention problem solving, general programming skills and core engineering skills like communication, empathy, driving consensus, task management. There are good tech companies where you can grow and there are bad ones where you stagnate. The same is true of gaming studios and companies to about the same degree from my experience.
      Feb 19
  • Microsoft abso7
    It's easier to leave than it is to get into gaming (sauce: in xbox)
    Feb 7 0
  • Microsoft / Eng palais
    Some of these comments are true some are false. Source, was game dev for many years plus still follow game developers conference.

    Game developers and software engineers are the same. The only people who hate on game devs are those who don’t understand it. Just like any piece of software game developers aka software engineers who work on soft real time systems have many parts that are hard and easy.

    Some of the most sophisticated algorithms come from gaming tech, graphics, AI, networking, memory management, etc. these can be applied back into “non-game” apps like AR, VR, distributed systems, real time systems.
    You can also take “non-game” tech and apply them to the game world. Most games have a backend now and require dev ops too.

    Google, Apple, Facebook are all clamoring for game devs who know how to do real time 3D systems.

    Sure, the common guy who makes flappy bird in unity isn’t all that great but neither is the guy who “does” angular or react to make a simple website.

    I understand what the Op is saying. Most of the time recruiters really fail in this area. I have encountered recruiters who have discounted my engine development at game studios as not true software. Which really bites.

    Op, I think Xbox division is probably a worthwhile move but in the end it’s about what you can learn and take away from it. You can have amazon to your name but if all you do there is config files in yaml, you are not better off.

    PS. Would not want to go back to a games studio. They have too many layoffs.
    Feb 7 0
  • Microsoft ucSV13
    Was the position for Xbox engineering or Xbox game studios?
    Feb 7 1
    • Microsoft ujRW20
      I'd like to know this too. Very different expectations.
      Feb 7
  • Barclays PLC FAANGHNTER
    All leetcodes are snippets from a game engine.
    Feb 7 0
  • Intuit b7x1s
    Not in gaming industry, but the perception is they work harder for Less pay than other Swes because “passion”
    Feb 7 0
  • Unity breadz
    Kappa
    Feb 19 0
  • Unity breadz
    🤣
    Feb 7 0
  • Stripe commoner
    Depends on what you build. If youre working on a game engine or anything with heavy performance requirements you will learn a lot!!! It's like dog years.

    Game engines are some of the most sophisticated pieces of software that use some of the most mind-blowing tricks to go fast.

    It is well known that the people who work on games go through crunch. Learn about that.

    Other than that I'm sure it's fun.

    (Disclaimer: Never been in the Game Dev industry)
    Feb 7 0
  • Amazon dotard
    I thought you meant gambling. I briefly worked for a sportsbook startup that ultimately folded due to inability to navigate us regulatory environment. Smartest fucking algo guys I've ever been around.
    Feb 7 0
  • Nvidia zVEC05
    Worked with several ex-game devs. They’re generally rock stars. They may not be up to date with the trend of the week (not really a bad thing). They tend to have great engineering fundamentals, are blazing fast learners, a better understanding of what the code is actually doing doing down to the hardware level, & can code circles around non-game devs.

    If I were you I’d be more worried about failing in the game industry. There’s less process & protection, you will be hazed if you break the build. No work life balance.
    Feb 7 6
    • Microsoft / Eng palais
      But most game devs aren’t that great at architecture, but probably better algo developers.

      Game developers are software engineers. Both write code and uses fundamental computer science.
      Feb 7
    • Nvidia zVEC05
      Game dev means a software engineer who works/worked in game industry. Non-game dev meaning a software engineer who hasn’t.
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Nvidia that doesn't make sense. How can you claim game devs are better than non game devs. Best game devs are in MSFT. Best non game devs are in Google. You honestly tell me Google caliber is lower than MSFT? Also top tier non game dev is FAANG, no other game company besides MSFT (which is not a game company) can even compete close to FAANG TC level.
      Feb 8
    • Nvidia zVEC05
      It makes sense if you’ve worked with game devs. These guys are passionate about programming. If I have two candidates a principal from google & a senior programmer from a game studio (doesn’t even have to be Microsoft). I’m taking the senior programmer. From my experience he’ll produce better, faster, more reliable architecture, system designs, & code then the googler, he’ll also have less ego.
      Feb 8
    • Twitter Root-user
      Senior game programmer will be happy with 100k tc and goog principal might feel 2m not enough. And why the hell you think Msft game programmers are the best..... there are many great studios and Msft has only a few of them
      Feb 14
  • GE / Eng
    JwBstrd

    GE Eng

    BIO
    .
    JwBstrdmore
    Game programming is hard. It's interesting they pay less then enterprise dev, which is simple. However, we have to deal with a tremendous amount of bullshit.
    Feb 7 1
    • Microsoft / Eng palais
      Because games don’t make as much money (except fortnite). You don’t see any game company racking in 40 billion in revenue a quarter.
      Feb 7
  • Just my experience I went into gaming QA to development right after graduating from college. Went from loving games to completely hating them. After 4-year hiatus I became a gamer again, not professional but casual. The companies I worked for paid peanuts, long hours and a lot of politics. Quitting the game industry was the best career I made.
    Feb 7 0