When asking the question of what game design degree ROI truly is, the answer will depend on just exactly what your career intentions are. Though today there aren't many who would question the notion of the video game industry offering decent potential for high creative fulfillment and a good living, game design degrees have been the subject of considerable controversy over the years.
It's not a question of the potential for work in a video game company to lead to success, but rather a question of just how much the acquisition of a degree in the skill truly contributes to said success.
To understand just how much practical value a game design degree could genuinely offer you, you'll want to take some time considering a few important aspects about the game designing as a whole, the state of the industry and the various ways that differently specialized people tend to advance through the ranks of game companies. By weighing the following truths about the industry against your personal expectations and ambitions, you can develop a more realistic idea about what your game design degree ROI would most likely be if you pursued one.
Narrow Role Opportunities
While there are certainly a number of attractive positions available in gaming companies, a game design degree is not always specifically required to occupy said positions. Game development projects necessitate the contribution of skills from a number of differently trained and educated individuals, from mathematics to legal consultation.
A game design degree may be advantageous when it comes to requirements for occupying a position that epitomizes the direction of game's design above all else, but these niche roles tend to be much rarer and narrower than all other roles in the industry. Unless you can manage to track down a company that offers an explicitly design-focused position with equally clear potential for advancement, chances are that the degree won't qualify you for as a position that pays as highly as a broader degrees that benefits game development without focusing on the design aspect specifically.
The video game industry's technology is rapidly changing and evolving. The material that you study in a game design degree program might make you adept at managing the current year's gaming development solutions, but when those solutions grow outdated, the value of specializing in them likely won't be as a high as it was at the time that you first began studying them.
Difficulty Determining Demand
As the needs of the video game community continue to shift, the principles of game design are constantly in flux and subject to a great deal of inconclusive debate. The lack of consensus on the ideal type of game design causes ambiguity in the determination of a concrete value level to attribute to it, and because of this, your candidacy as a potential hire for companies may not be as discernible as that of those who have degrees in fields such as finance and computer science.
Ultimately, the extent to which you're able to get a good ROI from your game design degree will depend on highly conditional factors that affect your potential to be hired, the availability of roles with exclusive need for your skills and your overall salary. It's certainly possible to enjoy a good game design degree ROI if every single factor aligns in your favor, but at the same time, stable and well-paying occupations that allow one to make significant contributions to video game development can generally be more easily acquired without it.