When setting out to build a game, the most common question young entrepreneurs will ask is, how long does it take to create a game app? Generally, you should assume the project will take much longer than you anticipate.
Speaking of timeline, you’ve probably heard the saying, “time is money”. So, your financial budget is just as crucial as the length of app development. Most game app developers close their doors due to financial constraints, so estimation of how long a project will take to complete and how much it will cost is essential for those starting in the industry.
But, there is no way to accurately calculate exactly how long it will take to develop a game app. You can, however, come up with a reasonable estimate. So, keep reading to learn how to make an excellent estimate on how much time your game app will take to develop.
How Much Time Do You Need to Make a Game?
Making a mobile game can take several months—or several years. Of course, it all depends on the complexity of a game and the talent working on the project. Job conditions can also affect how quickly you finish a project.
One of the best things to do is hire an experienced project manager. Let them crunch the numbers, set timeframes, and put in place a management plan. They can then get you a better estimate of the overall time needed to build your game.
Estimating the length and average cost of game development is especially important if you have business partners, investors, or other valuable stakeholders. Ensure you assess everything before getting the project off the ground to avoid the heartache of failure.
What Are Common Development Timeframes for Mobile Games?
Although there have been no studies or extensive research conducted, we have a pretty good idea on timeframes based on feedback from the developer community. Industry experts categorize game development time into three groups:
Fast Development: Several Months
Mobile app games such as casual games, 2D platformers, casino games, and puzzle games have fast development, meaning you can expect to complete them in several months.
In the last several years, the industry has seen a resurgence of 2D platformers with great tools allowing rapid development. These games also have the advantage of allowing you to make animation in as little as a few days.
Most of the games in this group are either concise or tend to have a simple, repetitive system (think casino games) given their development time and resources used during the project.
Medium Development: Up to Eighteen Months
3D action, strategy, adventure, and sports games are considered medium development games. These games typically have a longer gameplay style, and they’re characterized by having more freedom of choice for the player.
Their visuals are polished, and you will notice a significant improvement in scripting and visual assets across a broader swath of genres. You will likely need a team of ten or more game app developers for these types of games.
Despite the increased complexity, most of these titles are created by indie development teams, as they don’t have to worry about shareholders. You can expect indie games to take longer to develop than similar titles made by large companies.
Long Development: More Than Two Years
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), role-playing games (RPG), first-person shooter (FPS), and battle royale games with lengthy development are usually some of the best titles on the market. They are more common for extensive build-outs, labeling them as AA or AAA titles.
Due to their enormous complexity, these projects tend to be quite lengthy, taking several years to finish. A standard title from this group will have hundreds of features, amazing graphics, enthralling worlds, with the main focus being multiplayer gaming.
What Are the Biggest Factors Affecting Game Development?
As previously mentioned, having the correct number of employees on the project is of crucial importance. Sometimes, having too many game app developers can be as detrimental as not having enough of them.
Here are the four main things you need to consider when estimating game development timeframes:
Generally speaking, mobile games should always be faster to make when compared to traditional games. They have fewer models, and they don’t have the same intricacy as a PC or console game.
Nevertheless, assets for mobile games still require some time to create and should be the first point of consideration.
The more levels and features your app has, the longer it takes to develop. One of the oldest tricks for reducing development time is reusing assets. Trying to make everything as unique as possible will undoubtedly extend the project’s timeline.
Some games focus on multiplayer features and might not even have a single-player option. It can be a rocky road if you’re trying to create a game including both.
As you can imagine, multiplayer games are much more demanding than single player. Game balancing can be tricky as no one wants to play a game that has unbalanced characters.
One of the fun things about gaming is customizing your character or other game details. The proven success of free-to-play games offering in-game purchases for this customization seems to make it the norm right now. This freemium model is when the game is initially free, and then users can purchase extra content, in-game currencies, or customizations.
No doubt the biggest title in this market is Fortnite. Customization plays a huge role in your game, so you should address it early in development.
So, while it may be tough to nail down an exact timeframe for developing your game app, there are ways to build an educated guess. But one thing is for sure. The more precise your vision for the game, the more likely you will deeply understand what it takes to make it. From game app to Thinkorswim programmers, you can find a freelancer on Guru to get your projects done on your timeline.