How Much Can the Creation and Development of a Video Game Cost?
First of all, to get a first impression of the price, you need to determine the platform and genre of video games you want to make. Whether the video game will be created on the console, will it be a computer or mobile video game or a virtual reality video game? All these will influence the budget you need.
For example, a virtual reality video game with simple mechanical actions such as a race or jumping arcade can cost between $ 5,000 and $ 15,000. If the complexity of the game increases in completing missions, adding items, weapons, its development can reach $ 20.000- 60.000. The most expensive are role-playing games, like MMORPGs, where players explore an open world, develop skills, manipulate objects, and more. Because these games require a lot of work, advanced software, skills, and time, the budget can reach between $60.000 – $200,000.
Among the most popular video game genres are sports games, racing and vehicle simulation games, first-person shooters (FPS), and role-playing games. In their development, game developers can take into account several drivers that can impact costs, such as:
If the game is multiplayer.
Mechanics and competition in e-sports games – tighter competition between players requires good game balancing and a higher level of community management.
Payment method – if players can pay with real money or purchase skills or items just with coins.
Graphics level – the skills of an excellent artist translate into additional costs. If you want realistic graphics, a unique style of the game, the environment, or the characters, the price will increase. Also, the budget is influenced by whether your game will be 2D or 3D.
The player’s freedom to make choices – when the story’s complexity is high and is influenced by the player’s choices, or the player can choose from several avatars.
What do you have to pay during and for the development of a video game?
First of all, developing a video game includes the cost of employees, or if you choose to outsource the development of a video game – the studio’s game development team. Within the team, game designers deal with the creation of game rules and content. While they are a kind of project manager, the programmers deal with the game’s actual development by writing codes, usually in C# or C ++. They use popular engines like Unity3D or Unreal.
Depending on the 2D or 3D graphics of the game, you may need more graphic designers if you want excellent results. For example, you may need an interface designer, a 2D graphics designer, an icon designer or a 3D modeler. Depending on the complexity of the video game, you may need 2 to 10 graphic designers in your team. Also, in the game development stages, sound design is essential. These can be found for free, but for more spectacular video games, the sound effects for charge will increase the final budget.
QA and testing a video game is one of the essential parts of the game development process. In vain you invest a lot of money in creating video games if, after the launch, players encounter bugs and cannot enjoy the game. Of course, bugs are not the only problem that game testers have to solve. Depending on the game’s complexity, game testers must check the stability and reliability of the game and if the game is fun to play. Also, they have to see if the game scenarios and balance in the GDD document was followed, and of course, continue to test the game after its release.
Although, at first glance, you may be tempted to believe that testing is not worth the investment, but this stage ensures the quality of the game and allows you to monetize the game with success. The reality is that you need money for this stage to be completed successfully, but if the user experience is outstanding, your game’s monetization will be the same.
Part of the total budget will be invested in purchasing software, plugins, and technology in the game development process. Some of them are free, but most of the time, you’ll need the premium variants. The advantage is that if you collaborate with an outsourcing game development studio, they already have the necessary equipment and technology, so you will save money. They already have premium programs such as 3D Max, Maya, Adobe Photoshop. Also, there are other additional licensing costs for the AppStore, Play Market, or PC Windows Store. Game developers use third-party services, such as Google maps, storage or multiplayer services (PlayFab, Photon, or Firebase) or plugins to make the process faster and easier – these will generate an additional cost that you must include in the financial strategy.
Indie video games, the alternative if you have a small budget.
Indie games are not a class or a genre of games, but video games created by independent developers, a kind of individual entrepreneurs in the gaming industry – which usually does not exceed a group of ten people. At first glance, it could be said that indie games could be a cheaper option, but, depending on the complexity, the whole project could range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars.
In the development of an indie game, creativity is limitless, but the budget is limited. Although it is cheaper to produce, you don’t have investors to offer you financial resources, and the developers have to manage with a small budget. Usually, the resources are based on the personal investments of the team members. Because of this, indie games are often smaller, and the game’s graphics may not be as high level as studio-developed games.
Furthermore, being a small team of people, indie developers must have multiple skills and be good at everything because the budget does not allow them to have specialized people for every action. Also, the marketing budget can be lower, so the promotion of the game will be done mostly on social channels and other free channels. For this reason, it can take up to 3-5 years to make a profit.
Being an independent developer, you also have to provide the part of QA and testing that can generate additional costs up to $ 20,000, depending on the game’s complexity. However, if an indie game is based on a creative idea and the team of developers is talented, a great project can come out. A famous example of a video game that started as an indie game in 2009 is Angry Birds. The total cost was $ 140,000.
Another viral example of an indie game released in 2014 is Shovel Knight. Yacht Club Games, the indie development studio that produced this game had a total budget of $ 328,682 funded through a Kickstarter campaign and direct PayPal donations.
Creating video games is a complex process, and most of the time, appear specific challenges and situations that you would not have even thought of initially. But, most of all, the final cost of producing video games depends on the game’s complexity. The more complex the video game, the more the publisher has to pay for a larger team, purchase more advanced software, buy brand rights, popular characters, and more.
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