Have you ever wondered how video game characters can afford their lifestyles? Certain villains live lavish, over-the-top fantasies come true. Other characters have low-paying jobs yet can afford to live beyond their means.
It seems we’re not the only ones who have wondered about this. The online gaming platform Solitaired researched the most iconic video game characters and calculated how much they’d earn in the real world. They calculated the highest and lowest yearly salaries for iconic characters. The results may surprise you.
Top Five Video Game Salary Earners
Let’s start with the top. It shouldn’t be a shock, given his profession, but Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 is our list’s highest-paid video game character. As the CEO of Hyperion Corp, he makes an estimated $432,524 per year.
Now we know how Handsome Jack can pay for his handsome lifestyle.
We see a steep dropoff for our second place earner, Metal Gear Solid‘s Solid Snake. As a Special Forces Soldier for the US Army, he takes home nearly $140,000 a year. While many would jump at the bit to make that kind of dough, Snake seems underpaid for everything he does.
Right behind Solid Snake is Resident Evil‘s Albert Wesker. As a virologist, he earns $117,557 per year. You, too, can make six figures if you can sell your soul and help unleash a viral plague upon the world. No matter what he claims, I’ve learned never to trust Wesker.
Fourth place sees Alex Mason bring home $106,905. Mason, featured in the Call of Duty franchise, is an Intelligence Analyst for the CIA. He made his first appearance in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Finally, we have Max Payne, New York City police detective, taking home just shy of $98,600. Well, that’s how much he did earn before the murder of his wife and daughter. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn he made more as a private security contractor in Brazil (Max Payne 3).
These Video Game Characters Don’t Have the Best Jobs
Solitaired had to pull a little magic to kickstart the bottom five video game salaries. We start with Pac-Man, whose unofficial job title is a security guard in Japan.
While Pac-Man’s job is a little unclear, the researchers came up with the title given how he’s responsible for capturing and imprisoning ghosts. Japanese security guards take home an estimated $20,670; here’s to hoping Pac-Man can make his paychecks stretch.
Second on the lower end of the list is Link from Legend of Zelda. Listed as a knight, his estimated pay would be two daily shillings. After inflation and currency conversations, that comes up to just over $25,000 a year. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, we aren’t sure about the cost of living in Hyrule. Maybe it’s affordable!
Next up is Cloud Strife, a Private First-Class Soldier for the US army, making just over $25,000 a year. That’s a pretty big difference between the top earners working for the United States government.
In fourth, we have Desmond Miles of Assassin’s Creed, a New York City bartender. The listed salary for Miles is $27,802, which seems a bit low to me. While select bartenders in NYC can make upwards of $70,000 a year, the low-end range of their pay is indeed the mid $20,000s. Maybe Desmond should find a better bar to work at!
Finally, Ryu from Street Fighter pulls in $28,212 as a martial arts instructor in Japan. Spyro and Sonic round out the bottom 20 as they both take home $47,000 a year as a jeweler and athlete respectively.
What Video Game Characters Didn’t Make The Top Five?
Some standouts that didn’t make the top five for highest earners include Grand Theft Auto V’s Michael De Santa, two characters from The Sims, and Homer Simpson. The top 20 salaries ranged from Handsome Jack’s CEO pay of $432,524 a year all the way down to Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine taking home $62,543.
On the flip side, some lower earners include Marcus Fenix, Geralt of Rivia, and two Animal Crossing characters, including Tom Nook.
Yes, the Tom Nook we all think is richer than money itself is only making $44,000 a year.