Many experts in the gaming industry are afraid that they will not be able to save enough money and retire. Some even think that they will have to work until they die. Both indie developers and industry veterans, like game designer Josh Sawyer, shared their opinions on this topic.

The discussion began with a small tweet that Robert Morrison, the lead animator of Certain Affinity, posted the other day. “Are you planning to retire? And if so, how?” he asked.

The answers were not the most comforting.

Retirement prospects look hazy even for fairly well-known developers who have already made a name for themselves on well-known projects. One of them is an experienced game designer Josh Sawyer, who now works at Obsidian and had a hand in Fallout: New Vegas, Icewind Dale and Pillars of Eternity.

This is largely due to high real estate prices in states like California, where many developers work. A high salary now does not guarantee them a comfortable old age at all.

“I can’t afford to buy a house near my job. Even if I manage to do it in the next five years, I will still be paid for it until I turn 80—odd,” says Sawyer.

The same opinion is shared by Charles Randall, a former employee of Ubisoft. “Since most jobs require living in cities with real estate that cannot be bought with a developer’s salary, it looks like I will work until I die,” he admits.

At the same time, some developers note that they started thinking about retirement from a young age. For example, the artist Jane Ng, who worked on Half-Life: Alyx and Firewatch, opened an individual retirement account as soon as she got her first job. She was also helped by the lack of a student loan, the payment of which complicates the life of many specialists.

Katy Hargrove, a 3D artist at Warner Brothers Animation, has been saving money since high school. However, in her case, the main motivation was rather the fear of not saving enough money and being left without savings.

Maike van der Leeden, an employee of Electronic Arts, admitted that the company has a special pension fund. She transfers a percentage of her salary there and increases it as her income grows.

However, for the most part, Western developers are still extremely unoptimistic. That is why many of them try to ironize and joke about retirement as something unattainable and non-existent.

“I will resign myself and go to the West and remain John Epler,” writes John Epler, narrative director of BioWare. His tweet is a reference to the famous phrase Galadriel from the novel “The Lord of the Rings”.

“I hope that I will become your favorite granny who understands special effects. Maybe I’ll become a granny in indie game dev,” jokes Bryanna Lindsey, the leading special effects artist at Insomniac Games.

Her colleague and chief designer of Insomniac Games Drew Murray (Drew Murray) also tries to keep an optimistic attitude. He admits that he gets depressed when he doesn’t work with people. “I doubt that I will retire. […] Maybe I’ll slow down at 70?” he writes and at the same time clarifies that he has been saving money since the age of 18.

A lot of developers are still more pessimistic. Maybe that’s why the plan to release a big hit game seems to some more realistic than retirement.

This is exactly what Emma Maassen, the founder of the indie studio Kitsune Games, thought about. She calculated that even if she starts saving $300 a month at the age of 38, it still won’t be enough for retirement.

Thus, most American developers today have to worry about retirement on their own. Many people are concerned about this problem, but those who have taken care of this issue as early as possible have the chance to save enough money. Some experts, however, hope that in the future there will be special trade unions and mandatory contributions to the pension fund in the gaming industry.