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How much does it cost to make a game?

Hey greggman- maybe you can help me out- I’m a college student doing research on how video games may be used to deter kids from violence and delinquency- sounds crazy- but would you happen to know how much it costs a company to produce an original video game – thank ya greggman!

It depends on the game. I can tell you that a certain team I worked on which had about 15 people for a year cost 2.5 million and that’s development costs only. That does not include advertising, duplication, distribution, returns etc. I can also tell you that the next title from that same team is going to cost 4 times that, twice as many people working twice as long. It all depends on the game.

For example Warcraft 2 (I think it was 2) cost only like $750K but Diablo cost like 3 mill and Diablo 2 cost like 6 or 9 mill. A game like Tetris could be done for like $20K or less, especially like "Next Tetris" for Playstation which if you take a look at as no art. It’s as though it was done completely by one programmer (plus some music)

Basically the more people it requires the more it costs. A game like Warcraft2 had fairly simple graphics so it probably only took 3 artists to make all the art. Diablo 2 on the other hand has not only much more detailed graphics, probably required 10 or more artists but it also has CG video sequences also requiring several artists. It took more than 3 years so lets say each artist made $40K (which may or may not be a low figure) Assume 16 artists, that’s 40K * 3years * 16, that’s almost 2 million right there and that’s NOT including overhead (ie, desk, computer, health ins, 401k, heat, electricity) That stuff can add up to 30% more and that’s only the artists. Add 5 to 10 programmers., music people, game designers, producers.

DOOM, remember DOOM, what’s it now 6 years old?. That cost probably like 200K and only took 3 people but it was designed to only take 3 people. There are only 10 monsters each with only about 10 frames of animation total if that. The levels are basically laid out in 2D which makes them much much much quicker to build than a Quake level which must be layed out in 3D. And there are only about 15 items. 7 weapons (or was it 5), health, armor, keys, doors and moving platforms. (vs say a character action game like Mario, Gex or Crash where there are hundreds of individually programmed things)

So you pick your game.

One progression might go like this

Cheapest
——–
Puzzle Game (Tetris, Bust-A-Move)
Pinball Game (Kirby Pinball, Pokemon Pinball)
Sports Game (Football, Baseball, … (*))
Fighting Game (Tekken, Dead or Alive 2)
Racing Game (CTR, Wipeout (+))
Charater Action Game (Crash Bandicoot, Mario)
Action Adventure (Zelda)
RPG (Final Fantasy 7, (%))
——–
Most Expensive

* A sports game can be cheaper than a Fighting game because you *can* make it with basically one human figure repeated. (just change the jersey numbers and face texture) AND it can have just one simple playfield. Where as a fighting game has several characters and several playfields. Of course you can add tons of stuff to a sports game like commentary, halftime show, stats, etc and then it could alot cost more.

+ Racing games can be more or less expensive depending on how much you put into it. For example at the low end might be Ridge Racer which only has basically 1 track vs Crash Team Racing that has 32 tracks. Other things though can make it expensive (like licensing the cars ie, Gran Turismo)

% RPGs can go both ways. I would suspect that Pokemon was actually fairly inexpensive to create but Final Fantasy 7 with all the effects and CG cost around 40 million.

I’m not sure where games like Resident Evil fit into that mix.  One thing of course is that the better planned your game is the cheaper it’s going to be.  If you don’t plan you end up doing lots of stuff that gets thrown away and that is time and money wasted.  This is also very true in the movie industry where a common phrase is "every dollar spent in pre-production save 10 dollars in production"

-gregg

  • Dalroi
    They can be done for free of course…

    … if you’ve got a daytime job, and have other friends that’ll chip in for a share of any profits.

    I released a shareware game in ’92 called “OverKill” on the PC (through the shareware company “Epic Megagames”), still reckoned to be one of the best vertical-scrolling shooters.  Didn’t cost me a penny to make (I already had the computer and an assebler), did quite well on royalties. I just paid out a percentage of sales to two friends of mine, an artist and a musician.  It can be found in loads of places for download…

    But yeah, “serious” games cost a ton more.  Ours projects here generally run about $4m or so now I think.

  • Chad
    Drawing for games

    Hey GregMan I love to draw and love video games. Fantasy and Midevil stuff. Like Diablo and dungeons and dragons heros. anyways What courses should i take in college and what college do u recamend. I want to draw characters for games.

  • KoffiA
    How much would it Cost for music in a video game?

     

    How much would it Cost to create the music in a video game?

    Can you also email me the answer at:

    gemini3style@hotmail.com

    Thank You and God Bless!

     

  • nekrophile
    Music costs

    Last time I checked $1000/minute was the going rate for an established composer in the game industry. That’s assuming you’ll be outsourcing. You can easily find a less experienced composer for less though, i.e. someone trying to break in, say for $500/minute.

    My last game (FPS) had 100 minutes of music but it varies depending on the type of game you’re doing.

    In-house composers start at ~45k and go up to 75-80k in general. There are exceptions though.

    These are US Dollars BTW.

     

  • GregoryMalsack
    how to create a simple game.

    Hello,

    My son is interested in becoming a game programmer. He is 12 now. I have been in the computer business for almost 20 years and have programming experience in several languages. However, I have no idea how to create a simple game that could be played on a ps or ps2. I would like to be able to get the basics down so I can teach my son and let him grow from there. I think it would be a great start for his future. Any ideas?

    Greg

  • Pleb
    Pleb

    Holy crap!!

    You made Overkill!!!

    I love that game, used to play it constantly back on my old Pentium 1.

    God, awesome shooter that game was!!

    Good work!!

  • joey
    gaming industry

    hey gregg. i’m currently taking classes for computer engineering. well i’m going to start in the spring semester at drexel universtiy. but i want to know if i can deal with gaming here at drexel or i would have to go to a college such as UAT or other gaming colleges to get into the gaming industry. please contact me and let me know as soon as possible thank you very much. joey_nguyen8@hotmail.com

  • http://www.tbscollege.com Rockstar
    Video Game Maker Needed

    I need someone to help me make a video game for our site. I want it to be something that teaches business levels but is still quite funny and entertaining at the same time.

    - The first level will be sort of a 3D first person shooter where you go around egging your competitors
    - The second level be more RPG with built in lessons where you have to recruit customers and build a team through some sneaky moves
    - a behind the counter level where you have to handle customers and fight off bad guys

    I want two more levels that’ll be pretty funny to play. I’m thinking….
    - an overhead level where you have to abduct customers into your UFO working with the aliens
    - a jeopardy-type game show trivia level

    I have no idea what this takes to get done so I’m looking for someone good to make me an offer. If you have want to send something my way email me at frankfihn@gmail or I can be reached through our site at http://www.tbscollege.com 
    I think this would be a lot of fun to work with someone on this.

    Frank Fihn
    tbscollege

  • veroushka

    Hi

    I work with the government of Aruba, We looking some info about how much will cost to develop a simple computer game for children regarding preveting child obesity..

    can u send me an proposal asap?

    thank you

  • Cameron

    Hey I’m trying to make a game and i was wondering if you knew any good producers that would be willing to help me out. I am just starting the basic layouts, but I’ve got a pretty good idea about how it will go. I’m planning on making it for computers. I was wondering if you could give me an estimation about how much it would cost to make a 3D game for the computer.

  • Dnguyen1319

    Wow. This was from 11 years ago. Imagine the costs to create games like COD4-2, Bad Company 2, FF13….

  • Stickhermit

    Yet….  How much did it cost (or should I say, is it costing) to make Minecraft?

  • http://greggman.com greggman

    Oh, about apparently about 20 months and apparently by 4 people. In Silicon Valley salaries that would be at least $500k.

  • Levi

    how much would u thank it would cost to make a real game with real people in the game and can do just about anything

  • Victor Debone

    Minecraft is a indie game developed by Notch, it was inexepensive to start.

  • BEN DROWNED

    Free. Just get Blender, Gimp, and Audacity.

  • http://greggman.com greggman

    Free is often good and it might be your only option if it’s all you can afford. But, I’d be willing to bet that on average, pros that are comfortable with maya, photoshop, and whatever the top end audio software is will be 2x to 4x faster to get things done than similarly experienced people with gimp, blender and audacity.

    In other words, do what you have to, use free if it’s all you can afford. But don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Good tools are force multipliers. Your biggest expense is not software, it’s paying people for their time.