Team-based independent developers and contractors earned considerably more in 2010, while developers working on their own saw little change in their income over the last year, according to data published by GSW sister publication Game Developer magazine, as part of its 10th annual Salary Survey whose results were recently revealed.

During 2010 in the U.S., independent contractors reported an average annual income of $55,493, up more than $10,000 from their reported earnings in 2009.

Self-identifying 'independent developers' working on team saw an average income boost of $6,000, bringing their average income up to $26,780 in 2010.

Individual indie developers, however, saw very little change in their annual income, reporting average earnings of $11,379 for the year.

Despite the rise in income for a number of indie developers, roughly 55 percent of independent game respondents working on a team or on their own reported making less than $500 from game sales in 2010.

Some independent developers brought in money through other means, however, with 18 percent earning additional income through game-related revenue streams outside of consumers buying the game, including sponsorships, game advertising, awards, and grants.

Roughly 16 percent of the group who responded to this question in Game Developer's opt-in survey earned less than $100 from these alternate revenue streams, while 23 percent made over $20,000.

The respondents in the Salary Survey also helped shed some light on the breadth of experience within the indie community. Of the more than 500 indie-centric respondents, 63 percent had no experience working at a traditional, salary-based game studio.

The survey also asked indies to report what jobs they perform either within their team or on their own. Given the structure of many small-scale teams, indie developers tend to wear a number of hats throughout development.

As such, more than 52 percent of indie developers reported playing at least some role in the design process, while 41 percent contributed to art, and 40 percent worked as programmers, showing significant skill overlap between the separate disciplines.

More information on the survey is available in the April 2011 issue of Game Developer magazine, and worldwide paper-based subscriptions to Game Developer are currently available at the magazine's official website.

In addition, the Game Developer Digital version of the issue is also now available, with the site offering six month and one year subscriptions, alongside access to back issues and PDF downloads of all issues, all for a reduced price. The digital version of April 2011's magazine is also now available to purchase as a single issue.