How Much Does It Cost to Make a Video Game?
Estimating the budget is critical when entering the gaming industry. How much does it cost to make a video game? While some games require little to no investment, others can cost you hundreds of millions. Such cost discrepancies can discourage you from the start. That’s why it is essential to understand the factors affecting game development cost and all the production stages with associated expenses.
In this article, GetTrusted overviews the aspects influencing development costs and different types of games and production stages with estimated expenses. We will examine the pros and cons of outsourcing video game development vs. creating it in-house. By the end of the post, you will understand the factors that affect the video game development cost, and you will be able to estimate your budget.
Factors Affecting Game Development Costs
How much money does it cost to make a video game? To estimate the budget, you need to know the number of team members working on your game, the average developer salary in your preferred region, and the project’s duration. Knowing this, you will get figures that can be your departure point but don’t take them as your final cost. Let’s look at the primary aspects that influence the total cost.
Development Team Size and Location
The core game development team comprises game designers, animators, developers, sound designers, and testers. You will need at least one of each specialist. According to Glassdoor and Upwork data, if you outsource game development to India, the cost can be around $30 per hour for a developer. In the United States, you need to pay a developer about $100 per hour. Ukraine and Poland have roughly the same rates ($60 and $65, respectively). These approximate figures can also change depending on the developers’ expertise level.
Game Complexity and Project Duration
The game’s size and complexity directly impact development expenses. Complex games involve intricate graphics, complicated gameplay, voice integration, gyroscopes, and vast content. Developing advanced features requires more time and resources, increasing costs. Therefore, complexity directly affects the project’s duration and final costs. The longer developers work on the game, the more you need to pay them.
Platform and Technology
Platform and technology selection influence development expenses. Developing consoles or virtual reality requires varied degrees of complexity and associated investments. How much does it cost to make a video game console? Microsoft’s Xbox One costs around $471 to produce, whereas the PS4 costs $381. Producing a game for a single platform is cheaper than for multiple platforms. Conversely, cross-platform game development incurs significant costs but offers several revenue streams. Choose platforms based on your budget and target audience.
Types of Video Games and Their Cost Ranges
The cost of developing a video game can vary greatly depending on its type. AAA games can cost hundreds of millions, while Indie games can sometimes be made even for just a few thousand dollars. Let’s look at different types of games and their cost ranges.
Types of Video Games
- Mobile games. The term refers to all video games developed for iOS or Android and played on portable devices like smartphones, tablets, etc. The development costs usually vary from $3,000 to $150,000 and depend on the size of the game, its features, and the platform. Developing for iOS is generally more expensive than for Android.
- Indie games. Small teams develop these games without the financial support of major publishers. Simple indie game development ranges from $10,000 to $100,000. Creating a mid-scale indie game with more refined graphics and gameplay features has longer development cycles and costs up to $1,000,000, requiring crowdfunding.
- AAA games. These are high-profile games typically produced by large publishers with huge teams and enormous marketing budgets. How much does it cost to make a AAA video game? AAA video games can cost tens of millions of dollars to create. Examples include FIFA, Mass Effect, Battlefield, Halo, and Call of Duty.
- VR games. These player immersion games are played on virtual reality (VR) hardware like PlayStation VR. The development costs for a VR game range from $20,000 for simple games to $100,000 or more for complex or large-scale titles. How much does it cost to make a video game on the PS4? Budgets for PS4 games hit $100 million, while PS5 games can cost $200 million.
So, how much does it cost to make a video game nowadays? Let’s break down the expenses for each game development stage.
The pre-production period focuses on developing fundamental concepts and drafting early design documents that describe the future game. The Game Design Document (GDD) can help you create a well-structured mobile game development process, combining all game details.
For example, for a 2-year mobile game project, pre-production can take roughly 1-3 months. You can calculate pre-production costs by multiplying the game designer’s per-hour rate by the hours required to outline the game mechanics and other critical documentation.
Budgeting for Game Development
Performance, time, and scope are the primary factors affecting the cost of game development. Instead of sticking to the cheapest option, you need to look at the bell curve of effectiveness and weigh the options to find the best solution. A game development budget consists of one-time (equipment, software, certain contractors, and down payments) and recurring costs (salaries, taxes, insurance, and rent). You can calculate the budget once you have defined one-time and recurring expenses and estimated the development time.
Marketing and Promotion Costs
You need to market your game using the appropriate channels and methods, such as influencer marketing, paid digital and physical ads, and community development. Trailers, marketing materials, attending events, and advertising campaigns incur costs. The overall marketing budget will account for a significant percentage of your game. Ensure to invest an additional $0.25-$0.50 in marketing for every dollar spent on game development.
You will detect various minor bugs in the first several months after launch. Besides fixing bugs, post-launch support includes regular software upgrades and new content releases. Ongoing maintenance, bug repairs, content updates, and building a devoted fan community require financing. Depending on the scope of work, you will need to decide on the size and composition of the maintenance team and pay their salaries and other recurring and one-time costs.
In-House or Outsource?
While in-house game development has pros like enhanced communication and quality control, outsourcing offers more opportunities to cut costs. Outsourcing game development services saves you money on full-time staff, training, and vacations. You will also not have to purchase new hardware or software subscriptions for the incoming employees.
GetTrusted helps mitigate the risks associated with outsourcing game development, allowing only top performers to join the platform. After you specify your requirements in a form on our website, we connect you with the top three verified vendors in your niche. Once you select your outsourcing partner, GetTrusted will provide oversight and quality control throughout the project. Our Escrow Plus agreement also ensures funds are released to the vendor only after achieving all project goals.
Optimize Your Game Development Costs with GetTrusted
The cost of video game development varies greatly depending on the game type, complexity, number of team members, and project duration. Still, you can significantly cut expenses by outsourcing your game to vendors with moderate hourly rates. GetTrusted works only with verified software development companies and will help you find a reliable partner, ensuring top quality and oversight throughout the project.
Contact us for your game development time and budget estimate within 48 hours!