A series of NiW thin films was magnetron sputter deposited from a rotatable Ni80W20 target at Ar pressures ranging from 0.25 to 1.00 Pa on a matrix of (1 0 0) Si substrates. All films were synthesized in static deposition mode. The chosen setup allowed to study the influence of lateral substrate position and Ar pressure on film microstructure and elemental composition. All films deposited opposite the target were dense and Ni-rich, whereas films grown at extended positions from the target center had an open voided morphology and were W-rich. The differences in elemental composition with respect to the lateral position on the substrate carrier are attributed to the respective emission profiles of Ni and W and to scatter events of sputtered particles with Ar gas. To assess the influence of the target surface on final film properties, a planar Ni81W19 target was sputter eroded and investigated. The observed roughening of the target surface stems from the interplay between the high and low sputter yield of Ni and W, influencing the emission angles of both elements. Additional SRIM simulations of a thin Ni top-layer atop a W under-layer provided evidence for the existence of sputter yield amplification active within the studied system.