When you think of working on any idea the first consideration that comes to mind is the cost involved in the execution. Mobile game development is a hot market and there are many opportunities for making money. With technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality in the picture, the gaming community is more excited than ever to see how developers leverage them for gaming. Probably this is one of the reasons why PokemonGO picked up so well. But as opposed to common belief no company or developer can tell you the estimated mobile game development cost just by knowing about your idea on a superficial level. So how can you estimate the cost involved in creating your mobile game? Though you can’t possibly estimate the exact cost at once, we can help you determine a range. Here are some factors which influence the cost to develop a mobile game. By considering these factors you can estimate the right budget for your mobile game.
Factors Influencing Mobile Game Development Costs:
1. Choice of Mobile OS:
The common choice is between Android, iOS, Windows or Blackberry. The platforms you choose heavily affect your overall development expenses. For instance, payment integration and administration systems in Apple devices is 10-20% costlier than that for Android devices. On the other hand, Android development cost a little more if you want your game to be compatible with older versions. If you opt for a hybrid model then you would probably face cost disadvantages from both the platforms. Still, it makes sense to go with the hybrid model because the increase in costs also brings in a wide market share and a possible scope of revenue.
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2. Pre-development Expenses:
Having a rough idea of the game or a well-documented plan can be the deciding factor in your success or failure with the game. Strategizing your game’s story, levels, characters, etc. is a crucial step in game development. While this is an internal process, it doesn’t mean that it won’t involve any expenses. Depending on the complexity of your idea you might need to hire experienced game designers and strategists to guide the entire development initiative. The pre-development costs can be split into two parts:
- Game Design:
It is the planning stage where the levels, gameplay, target users, game environment etc. are documented. Without a planned game design, it will get really complicated to control and coordinate mobile game development and the product may involve many glitches and inconsistencies.
- Plot and Characters:
Stories are the basis of engagement. Without a plot and character, it will be difficult to engage the players till the end of the game. Character design involves deciding upon the personality, dialect, and tone of different game characters and their behavior with the user.
Experienced game planners can charge anywhere between $30 to $80 per hour for a project. It is advisable to hire in-house or near-shore developers for the planning stage because this involves a lot of communication between the ideators and professional strategists. For the game development and the technical part, it is better to outsource the project if you are offered lower estimates or better quality. Get in touch to discuss your project.
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3. Complexities involved in Development:
Once you have planned your idea the next stage involves the development of your mobile game. This is the most cost-intensive step and obviously the most important one. If I go into the technicalities of development then this article will become extremely overwhelming. To avoid that I will only give you estimates for diverse types of games so that you have a rough idea about the cost involved in giving shape to your idea. Based on complexities mobile games can be classified as follows:
Mini Games – $3K to $20K
Even a simple mini-game, like a Ping-Pong or Pac-Man clone, can cost somewhere around the lower end of this range. If you want to build from scratch then it might easily cost more than $10K. Only a generalist, endless game with minimal visual requirements, like that of flappy bird, can be developed to the lower end of this bracket. If you have great aspirations from your game then you should keep a budget of at least $10K. It is very rare for a mobile game to be successful if built under too many limitations.
Simple 2D Casual Games – $20K to $60K
Most small budget games will fall under this category. This is a reasonable amount of money for a decent game that you can easily monetize. Games developed in this range are decent and offer great opportunities for driving engagement and revenues. Some of the modern mobile games like Stack, Hop and Red Ball will fall in this range.
Mid-level Mobile Games – $60K to $120K
This budget is good enough to empower some of the most well-known independent games. These mobile games have depth in their content i.e. levels, characters, story and impactful visuals. This depth offers scope for replayability that appeals to a wider audience and holds players for a long duration. The initial release of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope would fall near the top end of this bracket.
High-level Mobile Games – $120K to $250K
These games are usually funded by VCs and are developed by experienced professionals. Developing high-level games involves huge development costs. It is a high-risk and high-reward market. These games involve a great level of details and are well designed. Developing games of this standard involve intensive work on planning and designing. Even the time frame ranges somewhere between 1 to 2 years or even more. If the after releases of Angry Birds Series were built from scratch then their cost would fall in this bracket.
There was a time when AAA games used to be a tag for high-end PC and console games. With improvements in mobile technologies, it is now possible to create games of this standard on mobile as well. Some of the popular AAA games include PokemonGO, Infinity Blade 3 etc. Many console AAA game series like NFS, FIFA etc. are moving to mobile and each of these will fall in this category. Games of this level require tight maintenance thus it is suitable to have an in-house team if you are planning to hit this big.
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Developing a game is only a part of the story. User acquisition and testing are also important cost elements. Here is how each of them influences the cost to develop a mobile game:
Making your game viral is challenging. You will need to invest heavily in advertisements to acquire and retain users. Apart from direct ads, you can also invest in social media engagement marketing as that would help you create buzz and brand name.
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Nobody likes to play a slow and buggy game. The tolerance level for bugs in a game is very low. Also, there is no point in taking a risk of negative user experience. Thus, testing is a very important activity and you should keep aside some budget for that as well.
If you are looking for a mobile game development company then feel free to connect. With 10 plus years of experience in the mobile industry, we can deliver a project of any size. Contact us today for a project or consultation.