Board Game Designer Salary How Much Do They Make, a person working on a computer

Board Game Designer Salary: How Much Do They Make?

The salary of a board game designer varies depending on factors such as experience, seniority, and the company they work for.

Here are some real numbers from actual sources:

  • My Kind of Meeple reports that on average, board game designers make between $87,000 and $113,000 per year, with those with 7-14 years of experience earning closer to the higher end of that range.
  • A Reddit thread from 2022 notes that the amount a board game designer makes depends on the company, the designer, and the game. Some designers are paid a lump sum up front, while others receive royalties.
  • Board Game Design Course reports that publishers typically pay designers between 5-8% in royalties, but the exact amount depends on the details of the contract.

In this article, we will explore the factors that influence the salaries of board game designers and provide insights into the income levels at different stages of their careers.

Role of a Board Game Designer

Board game designers are creative professionals responsible for inventing, developing, and refining board games.

They are the architects of gameplay mechanics, rules, and components that make a game enjoyable and challenging.

A board game designer must understand game theory, mechanics, and player psychology to create engaging and immersive experiences.

Designers work closely with illustrators, graphic designers, and playtesters to bring their vision to life.

They are involved in every stage of the game development process, from brainstorming ideas and prototyping to playtesting, refining, and finalizing the game for production.

Factors Affecting Board Game Designer Salaries

The salaries of board game designers can vary based on several factors.

Some of the key factors that influence their earnings include:

  1. Experience: As with any profession, experience plays a significant role in determining a board game designer’s salary. Designers with more experience and a proven track record of successful games often command higher salaries. Experienced designers bring valuable insights and expertise to projects, making them desirable assets for game companies.
  2. Expertise: Specialized expertise in specific genres or mechanics can also impact a board game designer’s earning potential. Designers who excel in creating innovative mechanics or have a niche specialization may have a competitive advantage in the industry. Developing a unique style or signature gameplay element can set a designer apart and lead to higher-paying opportunities.
  3. Company Size: The size and reputation of the board game company a designer works for can affect their salary. Established companies with larger budgets may offer higher salaries compared to smaller or independent studios. Large companies often have more resources available for game development, marketing, and distribution, allowing them to offer more competitive compensation packages.
  4. Game Success: The commercial success of a designer’s games can significantly impact their earning potential. High-selling games with a strong fan following can lead to increased royalties and future opportunities. Designers who consistently produce successful games may negotiate higher compensation for their work.

Entry-Level Salary Range

As an entry-level board game designer, you can expect a starting salary ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 annually.

These positions are often found in smaller game studios or as assistants in larger companies.

Entry-level designers may have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and gain hands-on experience in the industry.

While the entry-level salary range may seem modest, it’s essential to consider the potential for growth and advancement in the field.

Starting at this level allows designers to build their portfolios, learn the intricacies of game design, and establish themselves in the industry.

Mid-Level Salary Range

Once you have a few years of experience under your belt and have proven your skills, you can expect your salary to increase.

Mid-level board game designers typically earn between $50,000 and $80,000 per year.

At this stage, you may have more responsibilities and the opportunity to lead design teams or work on larger projects.

Mid-level designers are often involved in the creative decision-making process and have a deeper understanding of game design principles.

They may take on more complex projects, collaborate with experienced professionals, and contribute innovative ideas to game development.

Senior-Level Salary Range

Senior board game designers who have a substantial portfolio of successful games and extensive industry experience can earn salaries ranging from $80,000 to $150,000 or more per year.

These professionals often have leadership roles, overseeing multiple projects, and making significant creative contributions to the games they work on.

Senior-level designers have a proven track record of delivering successful games and possess advanced skills in game design, project management, and team leadership.

They may have the opportunity to mentor and guide junior designers, shaping the future of game development.

Additional Earnings and Royalties

In addition to their base salary, board game designers can earn additional income through royalties.

Royalties are a percentage of the game’s sales and can provide a significant boost to a designer’s earnings.

The exact royalty rates can vary depending on the publisher and the designer’s negotiation skills.

Moreover, some designers may also supplement their income through freelance work, game design consulting, or by designing expansions or add-ons for existing games.

These additional revenue streams can contribute to a designer’s overall earnings and provide opportunities for creativity and professional growth.

Factors That Can Influence Earnings

Several factors can influence a board game designer’s earnings, including:

  1. Geographical Location: Salaries can vary based on the cost of living and the demand for board game designers in different regions. Designers working in major gaming hubs or cities with a thriving board game industry may have higher earning potential. It’s important to consider the local market conditions and job opportunities when assessing potential earnings.
  2. Portfolio and Reputation: A strong portfolio and positive industry reputation can open doors to higher-paying opportunities. Building a diverse portfolio with successful games can help increase a designer’s market value. Positive reviews, awards, and recognition from peers and players can enhance a designer’s reputation and lead to better-paying projects.
  3. Networking and Connections: Building connections within the industry and networking with publishers, fellow designers, and industry professionals can lead to better job prospects and potentially higher-paying projects. Attending industry events, joining game design communities, and actively engaging with the board game community can create opportunities for collaboration and career advancement.

Emerging Trends in Board Game Design

The board game industry is continuously evolving, with new trends and innovations shaping the landscape.

Staying informed about emerging trends can help designers adapt to the changing market and increase their earning potential.

Some emerging trends in board game design include:

  • Digital Integration: Board games with digital components or mobile apps are gaining popularity, offering unique gameplay experiences and expanding the potential market. Designers who can effectively blend physical and digital elements in their games may have a competitive edge.
  • Storytelling and Narrative Focus: Many modern board games emphasize immersive storytelling and narrative-driven experiences, creating more engaging and memorable gameplay. Designers who can craft compelling narratives and create meaningful player choices can capture the interest of players and publishers alike.
  • Crowdfunding and Independent Publishing: Crowdfunding platforms have empowered independent designers to create and publish their games, bypassing traditional publishing models and reaching a wider audience. Crowdfunding can provide designers with direct funding opportunities and enable them to retain more creative control and ownership over their projects.


Board game design can be a rewarding and fulfilling career for those passionate about creating interactive experiences.

While salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, expertise, and game success, board game designers have the potential to earn competitive incomes.

By honing their skills, building a strong portfolio, staying informed about industry trends, and leveraging networking opportunities, aspiring designers can increase their chances of success in this dynamic field.


What qualifications do I need to become a board game designer?

To become a board game designer, there are no specific formal qualifications required.

However, a strong understanding of game mechanics, creativity, and a passion for board games are essential.

Many designers start by creating their own games and gaining experience through practice.

Taking courses or pursuing degrees in game design or related fields can also be beneficial.

Is it necessary to have programming skills to become a board game designer?

While programming skills are not mandatory for board game design, having a basic understanding of programming concepts can be beneficial, especially for designing digital or hybrid games.

Collaboration with programmers can also enhance the overall design process.

How long does it take to develop a board game?

The time required to develop a board game can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the game, the design process, and the resources available.

Simple games can be developed in a few months, while more intricate projects may take several years.

It’s crucial to allocate sufficient time for playtesting, iteration, and refining the game mechanics.

Can I self-publish my board game?

Yes, self-publishing is a viable option for board game designers.

With the rise of crowdfunding platforms and print-on-demand services, independent designers have more opportunities to bring their games to market without relying on traditional publishers.

Self-publishing allows designers to have more creative control over their projects but requires additional responsibilities such as marketing, distribution, and fulfillment.

What are some essential skills for a board game designer?

Key skills for board game designers include creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

Additionally, an understanding of game mechanics, playtesting, and market trends is crucial for designing successful games.

Being adaptable, open to feedback, and willing to iterate on designs are also important qualities for a board game designer.