Career

Perception of SWE in Gaming Industry?

Microsoft s9@
Feb 7

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.

comments

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  • Amazon jacksap
    If people stay on more than ten years how is that a bad sign?
    Feb 714
    • Amazon jacksap
      Maybe they just like the culture and colleagues /work.I see it as a positive sign when people stay on for a few years at least culture wise.
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft / EngbebK16
      Are you saying these people have been on the same team for 10 years, or just in Xbox for that long? Because the latter is fine, given there are lots of different things to do in Xbox.
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft / Product
      Brazuka

      MicrosoftProduct

      PRE
      Bain & Company
      Brazukamore
      Probably Xbox has one of the best paid salaries in gaming. Hence they want to continue doing gaming but don't want to take a pay cut.
      Feb 7
    • Valve ShTW84
      Once you find a good gig in gaming it’s hard to want to move off it. There are a few gaming unicorns in the Seattle area (excellent comp/benefits, interesting product, good WLB). None are perfect, but they’ll get you close to mid-level FANG comp.
      Feb 7
    • Facebook hbdik
      Wtf is mid level FANG comp? There is only 4 company. People say stuff just to sound smart.
      Feb 8
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      I'm guessing mid level is senior so anywhere from $200 to $350k.
      Feb 8
    • 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 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
  • Same perception as a gamer gets in real life. (unless you are ninja)
    Feb 72
    • 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
  • 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 74
    • 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&Dzorkan
    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 73
    • New VSwf01
      Stack is not outdated, they are just optimizing for performance and carefully picking their constraints.
      Feb 8
    • New / R&Dzorkan
      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
      uSko17

      Epic Games

      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
      6d
  • SendGrid girvssi
    game programming is much harder than writing stupid react apps or whatever flavor of the month framework
    Feb 71
  • Indeed on 🔥
    As others mentioned already, Microsoft is not a 'gaming company', your comp and resume would be fine
    Feb 77
    • Intuit b7x1s
      Kind of unique to the gaming industry. If OP wants to jump ship for a different gaming job in a few years, they need to be informed of what the industry awaiting them is like. And then decide if that’s what they want.
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      I'm definitely not jumping ship to other game companies... Like who can pay TC that's even close? Nintendo? Sony? My concern is that I don't want to be labeled as a gaming guy, I still want to be a SWE that happens to work in the game industry.
      Feb 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 / EngFBstockLOL
      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 70
  • Microsoft Micr0s0ft
    Your skills will become irrelevant.
    Feb 71
    • Epic Games
      uSko17

      Epic Games

      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.
      3d
  • Microsoft abso7
    It's easier to leave than it is to get into gaming (sauce: in xbox)
    Feb 70
  • Microsoft / Engpalais
    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 70
  • Microsoft ucSV13
    Was the position for Xbox engineering or Xbox game studios?
    Feb 71
    • 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 70
  • Intuit b7x1s
    Not in gaming industry, but the perception is they work harder for Less pay than other Swes because “passion”
    Feb 70
  • Unity breadz
    Kappa
    3d0
  • Unity breadz
    🤣
    Feb 70
  • 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 70
  • 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 70
  • 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 76
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Here's the part I'm really confused. Is game developers = software engineer, or is it not? What are you referring to when you say 'non-game dev'?
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft / Engpalais
      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 13
  • GE / Eng
    JwBstrd

    GEEng

    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 71
    • Microsoft / Engpalais
      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 70
  • Sony kHtg85
    Well, working in game development is different than working in the console business. I hope you understand the difference between those. Working on the consoles, you are still working on a lot of the cutting edge technologies in UI development as well as services. If I were you, I would first get an idea on That. Game development is a completely different business and possibly done in a different group than Xbox
    Feb 70
  • Intuit Merc77
    Sweatshop
    Feb 70
  • Amazon gDVc56
    If you are at Microsoft, then the compensation should be better and is similar to other SWE in Microsoft. That's the benefit of joining Microsoft as opposed to other gaming companies.

    If you have a passion for gaming, I would say go for it, gaming group SWE positions in large non game oriented company like Microsoft are highly coveted. If you got an offer you should seriously consider it, if you work on services what they do in principles is no different from other services engineering jobs out there. If you are working on actual games, then join only if you want to work in this space, it would be a good job that gets your foot in the door for gaming and again as a whole is highly competitive, but coveted industry.

    Make sure you are passionate about gaming and game development, otherwise the work and hours might burn you out - even though it is not as bad at Microsoft it would still have it's high pressure moments when you need to work long hours.
    Feb 70
  • Microsoft watbat
    Do what makes you happy. If you have an offer, then that means you were interested enough to interview and impressed the group enough for them to give you an offer. Nothing is permanent. Go for it!
    Feb 70
  • Amazon Hoobastank
    OP, sorry, long thread, didn't read it all. Are you currently in Amazon Gaming? If not, why don't you try with us first? Surely you'll be able to jump right in as an internal.
    Feb 73
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      I interned with MSFT but didn't get return offer, I guess I must have sucked... Took AMZN as my only good option 2 years back but still prefer MSFT culture.
      Feb 8
    • Amazon Hoobastank
      I see. That makes perfect sense. Still, bear in mind that Amazon culture varies from team to team. For all we know, Amazon Gaming could be an awesome team. Give it a shot before leaving.
      Feb 8
    • Amazon ehensudie
      I agree with Hoobastank, he has good “reasons” ;)

      S9@,
      Unless your totally sure u just want to leave amazon, amazon has tons of openings for SWE in games in many different orgs.
      Especially if you don’t want to be on the game dev side, you can work on tooling or engine etc
      Feb 14
  • Microsoft ucSV13
    OP can you come back and clarifyyyyyy lol. There’s a YUGE difference / context to your question if this was an Xbox engineering position vs in a games studio. If the former 10/10 would advise to highly consider.

    The engineering org. Is the same as any other org/services. People have had no problem moving to other FANG/non fang companies from the gaming org.
    Feb 72
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      I'm not in a studio, those are subsidiary and not part of MSFT? I'm definitely in engineering, MSFT FTE offer. Offer letter is for MSFT.
      Feb 7
    • Microsoft ucSV13
      Ok cool, just a nit. The studios are in fact a part of msft and not a subsidiary. But they are different in terms of pay and culture , and “engineering respect “ in terms of resume.
      Feb 7
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Amazon Hoobastank
      Wow! That's a big deal! Care to explain, or try to make sense of, why?
      Why would gaming SWEs be in such a shitty position?
      Feb 9
  • FireEye / DesignMelonMusk
    Dont do it
    Feb 81
    • Amazon Hoobastank
      That's what people usually say to the person with a finger already on the figurative trigger.
      Feb 9
  • Microsoft SatyaNad12
    Pretty bad honestly.. I worked for Zynga, and swe are the workforce given least priority.. PM run the show
    Feb 70
  • Twitter Root-user
    I am pretty happy I left game industry years ago. It was fun but the pay was horrible (I didn’t know it though.....).
    Feb 70
  • Activision Blizzard
    samS0N

    Activision Blizzard

    PRE
    Google
    samS0Nmore
    Maybe I'm not the norm but SRE here at Blizzard and I'm paid above market for SRE. Crunch isn't really a thing and any extra hours your doing is OT. The only true statement I've read in here is that designers are the stars. Engineering is not.
    Feb 70
  • New DvVM00
    xbox SWE is not a game dev nor “game industry “. it’s a great move
    Feb 70
  • Amazon icedT
    Game industry is different from working on games. If you are working on xbox device software, building or scaling services like gaming network or payment etc., it's really no different. Also there is a difference between working on a AAA vs. mobile/web game (core game, mechanics etc.). Sadly, the latter does have poor perception but msft branding should help there.
    Feb 70
  • VMware chupa
    Loved working with fellow gamers, but the pay was pretty crummy. Only go if you're passionate about gaming and are willing to trade some TC for work enjoyment.
    Feb 70
  • Microsoft BcrX06
    Can you provide a compensation breakdown?
    Feb 70
  • Qualcomm / EngGtSk70
    When I was graduating, a 10 year tenure was considered a good thing. It used to mean that people enjoy working there and were seeing enough growth to stay on. Now it's a red flag? How does company get anything done if everyone keeps leaving?
    Feb 84
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Based on blind, people change jobs at least once every 4 years after the RSU cliff. So people who stay are either great performers or can't leave. And considering so many places underpay existing employees...

      If a group is made of up employees who worked at 2-4 diff tech companies, don't you think that's more impressive?
      Feb 8
    • Amazon jacksap
      No it is not.Just because someone has moved around different places and LeetCoded their ass off doesn’t tell you anything about what kind of an employee he/she is.Also as you grow older if you have families moving around like this is nuts.So older folks will tend to stick around.
      Feb 8
    • Qualcomm / EngGtSk70
      It's like real estate flipping. Except job flipping. Every one gets a premium for jumping ship and this leads to others jumping for more wages. Wage inflation to some extent in this sector. Says nothing about the work being done.
      Feb 8
    • Aurora OkjQ51
      The question that gets asked with employees who are incredibly tenured is: “They’ve most likely learned/gained everything they’re going to from that company/environment, so are they just resting & vesting in a cushy position? Do they not want to be challenged anymore?”
      Feb 9
  • Uber / EngDgoQ22
    My first few companies are gaming companies. The work hours are not as bad as many people are saying, actually it was even better wlb than Uber. But I kind of hated it. Yes you work with a lot more mediocre people. Engineers are not the star in gaming companies, designers are. It’s also harder to get top talents because pay is usually lower than market for software engineers so bar is low.
    Feb 72
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Hmm..but this is for gaming companies like blizzard? I definitely do not get the impression that SWE get no respect in the Xbox org. Everyone of my interviewers were SWE by title, mostly senior or principal level too.
      Feb 7
    • Uber / EngDgoQ22
      Yes it’s for gaming companies. Companies like Xbox, valve etc are more like tech companies rather than gaming companies, because swe build platforms there and are the stars, not game designers.
      Feb 7
  • US Bank / Finance
    LkYl04

    US BankFinance

    PRE
    Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase
    BIO
    There are three ways to make a living in this business. Be first, be smarter, or cheat.
    LkYl04more
    As a gamer I just hope you do this and stop pushing AAA title dog shit to me. Gaming started my dive into math and I love it
    Feb 71
    • Microsoft s9@
      OP
      Sorry man based on the conversations I've had during the interview, I'm not making any games. Should be doing regular SWE work and maybe support the game developers a little, but I'm not the one creating the next Halo game.
      Feb 7
  • Activision Blizzard others
    Your overthinking it.

    If anything it’s high stress working on a game product team these days. Billion dollar business.
    3d0
  • Uber / Englil Blind
    For basic app dev stuff, game devs tend to be pretty weak, though some people manage to do both very well. Lua scripts and Scene graphs don’t directly transfer that well to website and mobile apps and database scaling.

    Internet companies deal more in open source protocols and networking and making things super space/time efficient.
    Feb 80
  • Broadcom Ltd. lightenus
    Game programmers are the best programmers. They need to know optimized coding skills to squeeze the hardware bandwidth and write good algorithms. Since there is a critical need for speed and clarity in a gaming product.
    Feb 80
  • Square Umwut
    I heard valve was great
    Feb 80
  • New / EngXorgatron
    I don't think ten year tenure is a concerning factor here. I'm in AAA dev as well and there are quite a few people at my studio who have been here for that long. The industry is booming in my location and has been for a fairly long time so it is definitely not for lack of opportunities that they stay.
    Feb 70
  • Uber
    TC || 👉

    Uber

    PRE
    Google
    TC || 👉more
    There are those who work on the game engines and those who use the game engines. Mad respect for game engine devs. Not as much for the game engine consumers. It's simply a function of the complexity of tasks they deal with.
    Feb 70
  • New DuQvV7x
    Perception. Prestige. Tier 1. Class A.

    Honestly who gives a flying fcuk about these.

    Get a job. Get paid. Move on.
    Feb 70
  • Tableau thepete
    Valve is awesome I hear, idk about anyone else. It’s hard to get in till your in though don’t expect working on a console title to get you anything more than more console titles.
    Feb 70
  • Microsoft BlueScreen
    Is the position on the console team? Platform? XCloud? GamePass? Studios? What is the specific team or HM?

    Yes, expect long hours, continuous shipping, and anything that would prevent a daily build from going to a Flight Audience means fire drill, no matter if it’s an evening or weekend.

    The majority of the people on the team are either gamers or love the gaming platform. Most aren’t there to just do a job and go home.

    Perks: you get 1 of each Microsoft Branded game for free, a free yearly sub to Gold and GamePass, and can usually be a part of the internal testing efforts on new consoles—using then from the comforts of your couch at home.
    Feb 70
  • LinkedIn URfC82
    Don’t enter gaming unless you are passionate about it and comp is secondary. If comp is your primary goal stay away from gaming industry. You can still play games at home :)
    Feb 70

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