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What Is the Average Cost of Game Development?

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On average, a company will spend up to $250 million to develop a game, but it depends on what type of game you’re making. Indie games can be made with little to no investment, while major publications require hundreds of millions in capital. 

AAA titles usually need massive teams and have major marketing expenses. In contrast, indie games are generally low-budget and depend on their users and word-of-mouth to profit.

Creating a video game is no easy feat. You’ll likely need a team of professionals with polished skills to help get the project off the ground. 

So, what costs will you incur, and how long does it take to create a game app? The simple answer is—it depends. Luckily, there are many questions to ask game developers during the planning stages, and the more questions you ask, the better. 

In this article, you’ll get an overview of different game genres and how much your budget should be for creating them.

Categorizing Video Games

You can categorize video games as indie, AAA, AA, and III games, depending on project scope. Although different in size, all these projects require the same programming skills. If you hire game developers, you should expect them to be competent enough to work on any of these titles.

Indie Games

A single developer or a small team generally makes indie titles. These are typically released by the developer on Steam or other similar platforms like the Nintendo e-store. Some of the best games ever released were indie projects, including Minecraft and Stardew Valley.

AAA Games

Major publishing companies make AAA titles. They have large teams, hefty marketing expenses, various features, and complex gameplay. An excellent example of an AAA game would be FIFA, Mass Effect, Battlefield, Halo, Call of Duty, etc.

AA Games

Although AA games have many similarities to AAA games in terms of quality, smaller teams with a limited budget commonly make them. Think of something a little better than an indie game but not quite as good as an AAA game. 

Most of these companies have between fifty to one hundred employees, and the prices of games range from ten to forty dollars. Among Us is an excellent example of an AA game.

III Games

III games are independent games with larger budgets and teams than the standard indies. The development team tends to include employees with experience with AAA titles. However, these titles are not big enough to be referred to as AAA. The best example of such a game is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

What Is the Development Cost of an Indie Game?

An average indie game will cost between $50,000 and $700,000 to make, from start to finish. A single developer usually makes titles that cost around $50,000 and take up to a year to finish. Naturally, as the project complexity increases, the team size and costs will increase as well.

Indie publishers typically expect their games to cost between $250,000 and $500,000 to develop, accounting for a team of five people working for two years on a game. The publisher may invest another $200,000 to $250,000 on testing, marketing, and any additional expenses they feel are necessary to succeed. 

What Is the Development Cost of an AAA Game?

AAA games cost tens of millions of dollars, and teams of a few hundred people usually make them. AAA Games require at least two years from conception to release.

Significant publishers like FIFA and Call of Duty, for instance, develop new installments simultaneously, allowing them to release titles sooner. They do this by repurposing assets or having several teams working on a project at once. 

Besides the salary expenses of a AAA game, you have to consider massive manufacturing, distribution, and marketing costs. These costs alone overshadow the whole production of AAA games.

What Is the Development Cost for a AA Game?

AA games have similar costs to III games. These are usually around several million dollars but rarely exceed the ten million dollar price tag. The companies creating these games are associated with the publisher and will have their support but are not always a part of their company.

What Is the Development Cost for a III Game?

Most III games will cost between one million and ten million dollars to develop. Aside from the development costs, the company will have to pay marketing and distribution expenses. These are more significant projects, and while III companies do not answer to shareholders, they might have to answer to stakeholders.

However, III developers have much more leeway in that sense as they have the option of self-publishing or relying on an established publisher for this service.

What’s the Biggest Cost When Making a Game?

The most considerable cost of making a game will be paying developers, testers, and marketers. 

Developing games is a huge endeavor that requires great creativity and time. It’s not just about who has an enormous budget. It would be best if you had skilled problem solvers and project managers along the way. From game developers to Discord Bot developers, find the expert you need on Guru.

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