InnoGames releases pay brackets for 80% of employees | Pocket Gamer.biz

Forge of Empires and Elvenar developer InnoGames have released pay bands for around 80% of positions within the company in a bid to increase pay transparency in German industry – and wider – games..

The salaries identified – the gross salaries of employees in Germany across nine different career models – will be replicated across all InnoGames job postings and range from development, game design and marketing, among others.

The studio made the decision to publicly announce its pay bands in an effort to increase pay transparency, following the release of this data within the company. Michael Zillmer, COO of InnoGames, said, “Salary transparency is about fairness – to your employees and to your applicants.

“That’s why we’ve decided to share this information publicly, after initially making it available internally last year. I hope this will motivate other game companies to join us and help demystify the idea. long-standing misconception that our industry pays people poorly.”

Dr. Andreas Lieb, Human Resources Director at InnoGames, added: “The bottom line is that it’s a ‘win-win-win’ situation. The company, our employees, and current and future applicants should all benefit from this disclosure. We are aware that salaries can be a very sensitive subject, and we are aware that the decision to publish our groups carries a certain level of risk, but we strongly believe that this is the right decision for both InnoGames and the ‘industry.

“In the management team, we had heated discussions. And with good reason”

PocketGamer.biz spoke with Zillmer about the decision to bring this data to light, heated conversations taken before publication, and the wider impact on the games industry.

PocketGamer.biz: Let’s start with the most important question: why? What does InnoGames hope to achieve with the publication of salary bands?

Michael Zellner: The post combines a good goal with concrete benefits for InnoGames. The good end lies in greater fairness towards our employees and our candidates. Candidates will particularly benefit from our move, as they now know they no longer have to worry about pay gaps with us. We believe in equal pay for equal performance.

As for the concrete benefits mentioned, they are mainly related to greater equity. The happier candidates are, the happier new hires are. Any new employee who discovers that they earn less than an equally qualified colleague will likely be disenfranchised, even toxic.

We also expect the release to make us much more visible and attractive, both to talented people within and outside the gaming industry. Unfortunately, our industry still has a reputation for not paying well – which, of course, is not true in all areas. Salaries at InnoGames, for example, are actually in the top third of the German market according to Kienbaum International Consultants, where we get our data from.

We also expect to experience lower dropout rates in the application process. Traditionally in Germany, the salary is only discussed at an advanced stage of the process. This was also the case with us for a long time. When both parties finally realize the pay is too far off, it leads to dropouts, which causes frustration for everyone involved. After all, a lot of time and effort was invested in vain. Effective immediately, our pay bands will be clearly outlined in every job posting. As a result, we expect to see a reduction in dropout rates, with all the associated positive effects discussed.

What can you tell me about the internal discussions before this decision at InnoGames? In particular, if there was a determined movement within the company not to publish.

A distinction must be made between the discussions within the management team, which at the time consisted of the CEO, COO, CPO and CMO, and the feedback from our employees. We had already told the latter a year ago, when publishing the salary ranges internally, that we would take this step at some point. Recently, we informed them that the time had come. Fortunately, there was no negative feedback in either case.

In the management team, on the other hand, we had heated discussions. And rightly so, because we considered doing something that no German game company had done before us. In the end, as usual, the best arguments prevailed and the entire management team now fully supports the decision. Just like our parent company Modern Times Group, by the way.

The benefits of publishing seem plentiful. But what are the risks that InnoGames anticipates?

It seems likely that more recruiters will approach our employees with more suitable financial offers than before. However, this is of little concern to us because our employees are already on the hunt. That aside, any financial offer, no matter how narrow, will have to match or – more likely – exceed our very competitive salaries. However, other companies will also have to compete with our global offer. Salary is very important, but by no means everything.

For example, we offer trust-based working hours and a hybrid working model where employees can decide whether they want to come into the office or not. We are also very strongly positioned on staff development thanks to our career models and the sophisticated training programs offered by our own InnoVersity. In addition, we have put a lot of effort into building an excellent corporate culture characterized by fair play, transparency, sustainability and tolerance.

This is all on top of Germany’s employee-friendly labor laws and the fact that InnoGames is based in Hamburg – arguably one of the most livable cities in Europe.

You expect the publication of InnoGames salary brackets to lead to reduced application drop-out rates. How common is this problem in the games industry?

Our knowledge of application drop-out rates comes from our own experiences, knowledge transfers between us and our sister companies, and ongoing informal exchanges between our HR teams and their counterparts at other game companies.

Based on this, we conclude that app abandonments are probably not a major problem in the gaming industry. That’s a bit beside the point, though. Ultimately, if a business wants to be on top of the game, it needs to optimize as many processes as possible. Late dropouts are particularly frustrating for everyone involved. For that reason alone, reducing them is always a good idea.

Similarly, staff turnover is a common phenomenon in the games industry, both when projects are completed but also in response to an anticipated economic crisis, as we have seen recently with Niantic, Unity, Adjust and AppLovin. What can the video game industry do to improve job security?

I don’t want to pretend to be advising the entire gaming industry on this. Each company is ultimately in a particular situation. But what I can say is this: fortunately, InnoGames has managed to avoid major waves of layoffs since our creation 15 years ago. In my opinion, our recipe for this success lies above all in not wanting to grow too quickly.

What has also worked for us is focusing on the things we do well and continuing to improve our games no matter how hard it takes. To never lose sight of the needs of players and employees. And to build a corporate culture characterized by tolerance, transparency, sustainability and fair play.

The published information represents approximately 80% of InnoGames’ employees, and judging from the detailed groups, it does not include InnoGames’ C-suite. Can you confirm which positions were not included and what led to the decision to omit these details?

The prerequisite for setting a salary range at InnoGames is that at least six employees share the same career pattern. Otherwise, the effort and the benefit are disproportionate. Moreover, if the group covered by a salary band becomes too small, the risk that individual salaries can be deducted becomes too high.

Therefore, there is not yet a salary scale for our finance or public relations employees, to give you a few examples. As for our C-suite: There are currently only five employees at this level. However, even if there were six currently, we wouldn’t have a separate pay band for them since they don’t share the same career pattern.

Did InnoGames discuss its decision with other studios, and if so, what advice did they provide?

We coordinated our move with our parent company MTG. There, however, they again trusted our assessment. Each part of the Modern Times group has a great deal of autonomy. We really appreciate that.

More importantly, it’s something that we also hope will encourage greater discussion and transparency across the industry. What widespread movement would InnoGames like to see from the industry?

Of course, we hope that our approach will first trigger discussions. Ideally, these will also lead to behavior change. In a perfect world, all game companies would publish their pay brackets in the future. But I am not naive. On the contrary, companies that pay unattractive wages would not benefit from this decision.

In this regard, I would be satisfied if the big players joined the initiative. Especially, of course, those from Germany. Although it is quite common in some countries to disclose salaries, Germany still has a long way to go in this regard. It’s a shame because the competition for talent has never been fiercer than it is today. The gaming industry needs to become more attractive to keep pace with other industries. We simply cannot afford to be biased about our salaries or worry about pay gaps.

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