Can a Software Engineer Become a Game Developer?

When it comes to programming, there are various disciplines. At school, you learn all the soft skills and basic principles of software development. Some people study further and become software engineers. Software engineers may decide that they want to go into game development. So, can a software engineer become a game developer?

A software engineer can become a game developer. If a software engineer is familiar with game development and knows the language used, like C++, they can apply for game development jobs. A software engineer might need to take a few courses to familiarize themselves with game development because not all development jobs are the same.

This article wants to cover a few subtopics and questions that you might have regarding software engineers and game development. We will answer critical questions such as which is more challenging and which pays more. It is also vital to understand the differences between a game developer and a software engineer. So, let’s get into it.

Can a Software engineer become a Game Developer?

So, we already gave you a brief answer to this question, but we want to tackle it in more depth. To start, we need to say that many software developers can be full-stack developers. However, it is easier for a software engineer to take on the job title of a full-stack developer. A full-stack developer is someone who can build programs in the back end and the front end.

A software engineer can usually do everything that a software developer can do, and therefore they can do everything that a game developer does. You can be a game developer by understanding soft skills such as algorithms and structures. 

To be a software engineer, you need to understand soft skills and more technical skills such as the architecture of languages and systems.

The language C++ is object-orientated. It is also commonly used in most AAA games. A software developer who wishes to work in game development will often know how to write in this language, but software engineers will learn more about that language. For example, they will understand its architecture.

So yes, a software engineer can become a game developer. If you wish to work in game development, becoming a software engineer can be a good safety net. You can focus your skills on game development, but you allow yourself to branch out and eventually earn more money.

From software engineer to a game developer.
Software engineers get paid more than game developers. But don’t let just the salary stop you from making the transition. The most important factor is what you enjoy doing more.

Why would a Software Engineer Become a Game Developer?

You will find that many engineers turn to game development, and there are quite a few reasons for this.

Firstly, a software engineer might be a passionate gamer, and they may choose to work in that industry purely because of their passion. Also, some games might require the expertise of a software engineer, and the development studio might be willing to pay a significant salary and a signing bonus to an engineer that offers them that expertise along with game development knowledge.

The Key Differences Between a Software Engineer and a Software Developer

We must remember the difference between a software engineer and a software developer. The game developer will almost always have the title of a software developer, well, at least in most cases. At the same time, we have established that a software engineer can become a game developer. The slight differences in what they do are what matters.

So, here is a list of just a few of the differences between a software engineer and a software developer.

  • A software engineer usually holds a degree.
  • Anyone can self-study programming and become a software developer and a game developer.
  • A software engineer is responsible for all aspects of the software they are building.
  • Software developers are usually not responsible for all aspects of the software.
  • Software developers take a creative approach to programming.
  • A software engineer usually takes a logical approach to programming.
  • A software engineer will understand how the hardware, engine, operating system, and programming tools compile code.
  • A game developer will understand how the engine they are using compiles code.
Video: Moving from software development to game development

Software Engineer vs. Game Developer: Which is Harder?

This is a very complex question. Many variables go into it, but overall we can say that being a software engineer is, in most cases, more challenging than being a game developer. 

Firstly, a software engineer should hold a degree. So, that alone makes it harder to become a software engineer than it is to be a game developer. 

A software engineer usually has more responsibility than a game developer. See, a software engineer should be able to write code to build applications, but they should know how to run diagnostics and troubleshoot the program down to its architecture.

While a software developer or game developer can build software and run diagnostics on it, a software engineer is often more efficient at doing so because of their more profound understanding of the language that the program is written in.

Software Engineer Vs. Game Developer: Who gets Paid More?

A software engineer who works at a tech company makes more money than a game developer at face value. We say “at face value” because many variables need to be considered when making such a comparison. We will list a few examples in the section, so while it might be hard to read at times, please bear with us.

First, we need to factor in the skill of the software engineer versus the game developer. An overachieving game developer might make more than an underachieving software engineer regardless of which company these two individuals work for.

The salary of either individual can also depend on the region that they work. For example, a game developer in the United States of America might make more than an experienced software engineer in Europe or even in some regions of the United States of America.

Generally, game developers that work at large gaming companies earn less than those that work at small indie development studios. See, those who work at the larger studios have the security to know that they work for a large corporation, so their jobs are generally safer.

An engineer or a developer that works at a small indie studio might get paid less. Still, there is a high chance that if their game is successful, they might get a significant bonus. Larger companies can’t afford to do this because they often have thousands of people working on a single game. That is just something to keep in mind if you are considering going into game development.

We have already established that a software engineer can indeed be a game developer. There is no way to say whether a software engineer will get paid more than a software developer in the gaming industry. In an instance like this, you need to factor in the employee’s value, and a software engineer is not always the better employee in a gaming environment.

Remember, as we have established, game development requires a lot of creativity. While a software engineer is excellent at applying logical engineering principles to any software or games that they develop, this does not mean that they are doing a better job than the software developer.


That brings us to the end of the article. We tried to be as informative as possible without getting too technical. If you are a computer science student or looking to start a career in programming, you need to remember one crucial thing.

You will start by learning the foundations of programming. Then you will need to study the discipline you wish to pursue.