If you’re a budding software developer planning to move to New Zealand you may want to reconsider after learning how low the salaries are.
Dean Hall, “creator of DayZ a successful survival game” (in reality an Arma 2 zombie-survival mod) that has since “sold over 3 million copies” may be forced to locate his business off-shore due to Immigration New Zealand asking him to pay migrant employees a decent wage.
After the success of his mod, Hall started work at Bohemia as an employee in the position of Project Lead of the standalone version of DayZ. In November 2014, he left Bohemia Interactive to create his own studio, Rocketwerks and announced the début title “Ion” at E3 2015. (source)
Based on the success of DayZ, Hall has been planning to base his new game studio, Rocketweks in Dunedin but is threatening to throw his toys out of the pram and move it overseas. Why? because the NZ immigration department recommended he pay migrant software developers around $60,000, which he says is “way above what the industry is paying in New Zealand.” Fans of the show ‘Silicon Valley‘ may like to turn away now.
The game DayZ has already made $137.7 million, according to the NZ news report quoted further down the page. However, that was on early access, the game isn’t scheduled for full release until 2016. Players are already saying the game has had such a long period of early access and development (2.5 years) that the final release is likely to be a damp squib: it has already peaked.
Steam is still offering the game as an “early alpha” for $34.99 but with a warning
WARNING: THIS GAME IS EARLY ACCESS ALPHA. PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE IT UNLESS YOU WANT TO ACTIVELY SUPPORT DEVELOPMENT OF THE GAME AND ARE PREPARED TO HANDLE WITH SERIOUS ISSUES AND POSSIBLE INTERRUPTIONS OF GAME
Hall doesn’t say what he was paid while working for Bohemia but
Hall, frustrated by his treatment, has written an open letter to Immigration New Zealand imploring them “to stop wasting the time of me and my staff and make a decision”.
“In selecting erroneous data, you are demanding that we either provide preferential benefits to overseas graduates or that we alter all graduate employee positions,” he said in the letter.
“That means either you are forcing us to give overseas graduates more or you are fixing industry prices.”
A spokesperson for Immigration NZ said there was no suggestion migrants should be paid more than New Zealanders. “Anyone working in such a skilled position, with the qualifications and/or experience that such a position requires, should be paid more than $35,000 – the salary that Mr Hall is proposing to pay workers in this case.”..
A letter of support from the New Zealand Gaming Developers Association (NZGDA) revealed a graduate with a tertiary game programming or computer science degree could expect to receive a starting salary of $35,00-$45,000.
The association also noted that Hall was a “high-profile, internationally-acclaimed and successful game developer now re-investing in his homeland”.
Hall, with the support of Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, the Dunedin City Council, and the NZGDA, applied for “approval in principle” from Immigration New Zealand… source
Immigration New Zealand has a minimum income requirement for residence visas of around $45,000 – $50,000 depending on the visa type and whether the occupation is on the long term skill shortage list. These figures are based on what it deems to be a living wage, given that migrants (unlike Kiwi graduates) are unable to claim state benefits such as housing payments to supplement meagre incomes.
Now, no one wants migrants to be a burden on the state, do they?
We say if Hall thinks his business will generate the sort of income DayZ has made for Bohemia Interactive, he should pay his employees accordingly and stop being so tight fisted. After-all, if you pay peanuts…you may end up with a game ‘still in development‘ after 2.5 years.