So you wanna be a Japanese video game programmer?
A recent thread on the notorious 2ch BBS system asked Japanese video game programmers, what is your take-home pay per month? We translated a few of the answers, and the numbers reported seem surprisingly low:
"¥130,000 For 256 hours of work a month." (For reference, a 'normal' 40-hour work week equals 160 hours per month.)
"My only take-home pay is the smiles of our customers."
"Let me tell you, the minimum salaries that game companies claim to pay employees are total BS. Ads promising ¥250,000+ a month? In reality they pay ¥130,000 a month. ¥200,000+ a month? In reality they pay ¥110,000 a month. Oh, and then you get taxes withheld. So take-home's like ¥70,000-80,000 a month. Ah ha ha ha!"
"¥160,000 and I am ready to die. I can't even afford the 'recruit suit' I'll need for interviewing for another job."
"Salary varies from individual to individual so it's hard to say, but speaking about the industry as a whole you can definitely say 'low enough to make people regret dedicating themselves to games.' A precious few blessed with talent can earn a living wage. And an even more precious few who get lucky can make more than a living wage."
"More than an animator makes, that's for sure."
"My boyfriend's case is between ¥130,000 and ¥140,000 a month, with no bonus, a 230 hour work-month, a balding head and a hazy future."
"¥180,000 a month, no bonus, and only thanks to the company dorm can I afford to live in Tokyo."
"I'm 27, live in Tokyo, working for a major company, and make ¥680,000 a month, with a separate yearly bonus.... But it isn't in the game industry. Ha!"
It's important to remember that all of the above comments are unsubstantiated, let alone connected to any specific game company (of which there are many aside from the five or six major ones.) But it is definite food for thought for the legions of youngsters out there with dreams of making their fortune in the world of videogames.