Talk of unionisation in the game industry has only gotten louder over the past year, to the point at which we’re now seeing political figures like Bernie Sanders start to take notice. One of the largest points of public interest in that conversation was crunch at Rockstar, but Strauss Zelnick – CEO of Rockstar’s parent, Take-Two Interactive – thinks things are too good in the industry for unions to take hold.
“Look, unions tend to develop when labor relations are not typically non-existent,” Zelnick tells GamesIndustry.biz. “And typically unions have been most beneficial when there were more workers than there were jobs. And where the jobs were low-paying jobs. We have fewer workers than we have jobs, and they’re high-paying jobs.
“Right now, Take-Two has 500 open positions. There are 220,000 or so people employed in the US video game business. They make about $100,000 on average, maybe more. It’s hard to imagine what would motivate that crew to unionize. But we’re a compliant company and will serve the law. If our colleagues want to engage in collective bargaining, then we will.”
Exactly where Zelnick’s drawing that $100k figure from isn’t clear, but it’s not far off from the average base pay for game developers reported on sites like Glassdoor. However, that figure encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, including leadership and engineering roles, which tend to pay much more than artist and design jobs – never mind QA.
A game designer, for example, might see annual pay closer to the $60k-$70k range. That’s an excellent salary in many parts of the world, but not in game development hotbeds like San Francisco, where the cost of housing is over six times the US national average.