According to The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 65% of Americans play video games, with over 164 million of them being adults. These statistics make gaming a lucrative industry. As an entrepreneur, a gamer, or a software developer, you may be wondering: how much does it cost to produce a video game?
The cost of creating video games varies based on various factors like the type, complexity, and size of the development team. To understand the cost involved in making a video game, check out the following expenditure items.
Video Game Expenditure Items
- Development Team
You can choose to outsource from a tech company, hire freelancers, or recruit an in-house team. Your choice depends on your desired expertise, resources available, and how big the project is. However, whichever method you choose, you may need the following professionals:
Designers: If you are not the game designer, you will need a professional to assist you, which might be one or more experts. The number of designers depends on whether the project is small, medium, or large. According to PayScale, the average salary for a programmer with game design skills is $64,402.
Programmers: You’ll need to use popular development platforms such as Unreal, Unity3D, and Android, among others. Only video game programmers can help you out on this. A programmer will charge differently depending on the platform on which the game will operate, such as PC, home console, web browser, mobile devices, or virtual reality.
According to a 2010 survey, game programmers earned between $72,000 and $127,900 annually in the USA. The cost will vary depending on the programmer’s experience, specialty, location, and project duration.
Specialists in Animation and Graphics: Video games come in different graphics types, and you require assistance from specialists in graphics and animation for excellent results. Graphic types available include the interface, 3D, and 2D. Each animation type has its distinctive features, and only a skilled animator can execute the roles effectively.
Sound Designer: It doesn’t matter the platform to use the game; sound must be present. There are various sources you can get high-quality sound, either for free like the freesound.org or at a cost. Based on the source the game developer chooses, the price will differ, and it can go up to $500.
Testing experts: You may need a professional team of quality assurance engineers to verify that your game is user-friendly, secure, responsive, bug-free, and completes all required tasks.
- Software, Essential Data, and License
A game developer may decide to save time by using paid software with similar functionality instead of developing one. Unfortunately, most game development software requires extra features like Maya, 3D Max, plugins, and Adobe Photoshop to do the job. The total cost of such additions can strain your budget; you may need to win the lottery to afford the costs.
For example, you will have to part with $125 per month to use the Unity3D Pro. Moreover, the game developer requires a license for the store or platform to use and will cost you money to have them. Sometimes you may need to use a third-party service like Google maps or multiplayer services such as Firebase and Photon, and that too comes with a cost.
- Equipment, Intellectual Property and Rights
You cannot use certain characters in your video without purchasing the relevant intellectual property. The case is similar when using celebrity voices and brands. You’ll need to buy the ideal equipment for content creation and development such as iPad, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft HoloLens, Wii, recording studio or Motion tracking system, and Android.
- Exponential Cost Growth
While a game can take a few months to produce, another one can take years. The longer a video game takes to develop, the more costly it becomes. Work with your team to identify activities that can be done simultaneously. Comprehensive planning will help you forecast how long it will take to develop the video game.
You can also estimate the cost by using a game cost calculator. To get the actual total cost of producing the video game, you’ll have to add all the expenses involved during the entire development process.
There is no fixed cost for producing a video game. Each game comes with its cost that depends on the game it virtualizes, development period, number of features, tools used, intellectual rights and licenses, and the development team’s composition and location. If you intend to develop a video game, you can leverage on free and open-source resources to lower the costs of development.