Thousands, Millions, or a Billion– what’ll be your guess? Our experts say it can be anything from zero to unlimited. Giving a number to any game’s development expense is practically impossible.Because each step has its nuances, if one game became successful in a month, other developers could empty their whole bank account, and still, there’s no guarantee the target market will appreciate it.If now you believe quality and marketing are the only factors that make a game top-scorer, well, again, it’s a myth.
In other words, multiple stages are involved in the making, which impact the costs and overall returns. Depending on these, you can make a budget-friendly game or the next GTA.
How so? Keep reading this blog to understand how mobile game development costs differ from AAA games. Believe us, it’s worth every minute of your time.
Let’s Begin With A Quick Round of Questions!
You might be having loads of questions related to costs. So, before we answer your question about– how much does it cost to make a game– here’s something that will ignite your interest in this development process.
Which is the most expensive game in the world?
Well, it depends.
Until now, Cyberpunk 2077 was labeled the most expensive game of all time; however, it’s expected to lose its title soon. Another giant is eyeing to bag the title, which is none other than Call of Duty 2023.Its developers dropped the news to launch the sequel to MW2 (2022), Modern Warfare III, with updated detailing and editions like the ‘Open Combat Missions.’ This brand-new feature will allow the players to approach the gaming action in large-scale battles in multiple ways.
Set to be released on November 10 this year, analysts estimate that it has cost the developers a whopping $500 million, which may reach $ 1 Billion upon its launch. So far, the development and marketing process is on, making it impossible to predict the amount of money spent on CoD 2023, its margin from Cyberpunk’s budget, and if there’s another giant in the making. Stay tuned for this update, too, as we’ll be one of the first to tell you.
If you spend more on development, will it equal to earning more?
The development costs cannot determine sales prediction simply because games like Minecraft with low budgets are sold at $2.5 billion. In contrast, others with extremely high production costs make hardly any sustainable profits.Therefore, the success rate of any game depends on how well it aligns with stakeholders’ goals and aspirations, whether they are gamers, developers, or investors.
Will it take years to launch a game like Pokémon GO?
Yes, Pokémon GO took around 20 years to complete and became an overnight sensation. However, no rule book says you must devote long years to succeed in the gaming industry.The duration of development mostly depends on the game’s complexity, the team’s expertise, and the resources available.
Time to Know What It Actually Costs to Create a Game
Finally, it’s time to know what it takes to make a game. Obviously, the answer will vary depending on various factors involved in the process. So, here’s a list of indicators that play a significant role in the costs associated with game development–
The first thing you need to do is know what type of game you’ll be creating. Will it be a 2D puzzle or an AAA game like Grand Theft Auto V? What kind of graphic resolution and quality will you use? And what genre will you pick?
All such questions will determine the cost of the game, turning it into a million-dollar project from a thousand dollars. To gain a better understanding of these gaming clichés, below we have covered three types of games to gain clarity about the budget requirement for your next project:
|Game Category||Description||Examples||Development Costs|
|Indie Game||Indie games require small teams and lower production costs than AAA titles, but they can still be highly profitable. The best part about these is that even a solo developer can create them.||Undertale, Hollow Knight||Lower budget, potential for high profitability|
|AAA Game||These require massive budgets to cover expenses such as high-quality graphics, voice acting, and extensive marketing campaigns.||Grand Theft Auto V, Cyberpunk 2077||Extremely high budgets to deliver top-notch quality|
|Mobile Games||Mobile games don’t follow any common trends, as the development costs can vary widely depending on the complexity and features of the project.||Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga||Investment ranges from low to moderate based on complexity.|
Experience and Size of Dev Team
If you plan to take on an AAA-level project like Uncharted with a team of rookie developers, believe the market– you’re about to go in for a bumpy ride.Because complex projects require a large group of developers, animators, QA testers, and artists.
On one hand, these games require precision and expert skill sets to deliver detailed graphics, animations, and advanced gameplay features, whereas others, like 2D, can be built by a single developer.
But how does it add to overall costs?
Well, experienced professionals need higher salaries, having a quality setup requires more capital, and you also need to buy specific game licenses. In short, more resources, headcount, and experience means a big cheque every month.
Team’s Burn Rate & Scale of the Project
Imagine having a big team of developers and designers working on a project you know will require months or approximately a year to complete.
Can you estimate the total developmental cost of this project? The market experts say the overall expenses could range between thousands of dollars to a million. This will involve your employees’ salaries, infrastructure setup, and licenses.It means a more extended project cycle will increase the expenses.And with a larger team to cater to, you may need to invest more money.
Windows, PS, or iOS– Your Targeted Platform
In order to deliver a high-quality experience to players, brands are trying to optimize their games to multiple platforms. It may include– mobile devices like Android and iOS or other systems like PS and Xbox. The list can further be extended to include AR, VR, cloud gaming, or cross-platform systems.
This means you need to spend more on gathering all the data, making your game suitable for different platforms, and buying the necessary hardware or licenses.For instance, mobile game development costs will be lower than Xbox optimization.
QA Testing to Find Any Bugs or Errors Before Completion
To ensure your game runs smoothly, you need to either have an in-house testing department or outsource the same. The costs also vary depending on the complexity of the game.Usually, hiring testers outside is a better option as it costs only a few hundred dollars, and you get better quality.
Marketing, PR, & Distribution
Now comes the best part. Once the testers have given the green signal to the game, it’s time to plan its launch.
However, like any other product company in the market, you can’t skip the promotion step. Here, your creative team helps you organize the marketing campaigns, write press releases, and also approach influencers.While a project like CoD must spare thousands of dollars for this, others, like indie games, may be promoted for free.
At Last– Everything Else, like IP Rights
If you’re using any character from an already existing movie or brand, you must pay a fee for the same. That’s why creating unique graphics or products is always suggested, as they’re original and will be more budget-friendly.
So, How Much Money Do You Need To Make Your First/Next Game?
By now, it’s clear the budget will vary. And having an accurate amount before you begin developing a game is harder to say.Nonetheless, the factors mentioned above will play an essential role in having an estimate. So, research before you start financial planning about all the prospects. If you need further help, our team is there to assist you.