Survey: Work-for-hire is the most common way indie devs pay bills

After conducting an informal poll of indie game makers last month, indie developer and Finji Games co-founder Adam Saltsman has published the results on his blog this week.

After conducting an informal poll of fellow indies last month, indie game developer and Finji Games co-founder Adam Saltsman has published the results on his blog this week.

They make for interesting reading, though they should be taken with a grain of salt in light of the fact that the data was gathered from 634 people who identify as indie developers and likely saw Saltsman's calls for responses via Twitter. 

Notably, almost half of survey respondents (46.7 percent) said they relied on work-for-hire jobs (think: contracting for asset work, ports, etc.) to pay their bills in the past year, and over half (55.6 percent) said they historically paid the majority of their bills via work-for-hire gigs.

While it's common knowledge that many indies take contract work, it's less common to see developers pubicly vouching for how critical it is to their financial well-being.

This is well in line with what Gamasutra learned last year from speaking to an array of developers (including Saltsman) about the financial realities of "going indie": that low-profile contract work on games for big publishers (and often, former employers) was one of the primary ways many successful indies stayed afloat while working on their original ideas.

There's lots of other intriguing data in Saltsman's survey results, of course. Among those surveyed, nearly half (49.4 percent) said their indie game company was a one-person operation, and nearly a third (30.3 percent) said they had shipped zero games so far.

Most lived in or near a major metropolitan area, and a quarter (24.9 percent) of respondents said they'd been self-employed full-time game makers for at least 5 years. 

You can find the rest of the results graphed out on Saltsman's blog, or take a look at the raw data as a public Google spreadsheet.

Latest Jobs


Playa Vista, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Senior Level Designer (Zombies)

PlayStation Studios Creative Arts

Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Lead Concept Artist

Digital Extremes

Lead AI Programmer
More Jobs   


Explore the
Advertise with
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Advertise with

Game Developer

Engage game professionals and drive sales using an array of Game Developer media solutions to meet your objectives.

Learn More
Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more