Indie games are short for Independent Games. These games are developed and published by independent developers who are not part of a game development studio.
Independent game developers are known for introducing unconventional game ideas, experimenting with creative designs, and diverse game mechanics which the big game studios might not risk trying.
Most indie games are made by two to a few game developers. Interestingly enough, there are some very popular indie games like Thomas Was Alone, Strawdrew Valley, and Undertale that were developed by a single game developer.
Minecraft is one such indie game title that has created a huge impact on the video game landscape forever by creating a game where players can build and structure their own game in the three-dimensional space. The game has over 200 million users worldwide and it garnered a revenue of $380 million by the year 2021.
A 2022 US study shows that indie games have seen a rise in their player base from 23% in 2021 to 25% in 2022.
We could say that the recent few years have worked out very well for indie games, as its player base has shown a steady increase in comparison with other games. Because of this reason, more and more indie games are being released every year.
The cost of making an indie game can range somewhere between $10,000 to $1 million. There are many factors that influence the game development costs.
Here are some of the factors that influence indie game development costs.
When developing an indie game, experience plays an important part in making successful games. Having hands-on experience with game development tools, engines, and cutting-edge technology will be a great advantage for you when you are developing your own game. This will help to save so much of your game development time.
If you do not have a prior experience in game development, you might need additional time to understand the game development process.
Moreover, if you do not know how to do game art or programming, then you have two options. One is to hire a game developer and you need to pay them. That will add to the development cost.
But if you are determined to create the whole game by yourself, you need to learn the necessary skills through skill courses. It will cost you money and time.
One added advantage of having prior experience in game development is that you will know the process, the risks, and the hidden costs that might arise during game production.
Indie games are primarily divided into small-scale, mid-scale, and high-end indie games. The indie game type bears a huge impact on the game development cost.
Cost Range: $5000 to $1,00,000
Most of the small-scale indie games are developed by one or two developers. They have a relatively low budget when compared to other games and are mostly self-funded. This type of game is smaller in scope, uses simpler graphics, and focuses on unique gameplay mechanics.
Cost Range: $1,00,000 to $1 million
Mid-scale Indie games are developed by a few game developers and they have more polished graphics, deeper gameplay mechanics, and potentially longer development cycles. This will require a more detailed budget and they utilize crowdfunding and other funds to finance the game.
Cost Range: Exceeds more than $ 1 million
High-end indie games have impressive graphics, a captivating game environment, complex mechanics, and innovative gameplay. Hence, it will cost you more time, money, innovative technology, and human resources to develop the game.
For a game with such a huge budget, an indie game developer has to look for other sources of game funding. There are other options like project funding and VC funding. Also in some countries government provides grants and tax relief for indie game developers, which is a viable option for them.
Additionally, the mobile game development cost of indie games can vary from PC and console platforms, as they both have different OS, software, and hardware configurations.
Most indie game developers do not include marketing costs in their game budgets. But it is an important investment that every game developer needs to make, to boost their games to reach a wider audience.
Experts say, in many popular games nearly 25% to 50% of the total game budget is spent on marketing and promotional activities. It is not necessary for every game to spend that much. However frequent marketing campaigns can help drive people to your game.
As an indie game developer, considering the budget constraint you can allocate a small percentage of your game budget for marketing and promotional activities.
You can use many marketing tactics like in-game marketing, influencer marketing, advertising, and brand sponsorships to promote your game. Planning proper marketing campaigns at the initial stage will prove to be beneficial in the long run.
Here we will address some of the obvious hidden costs in game development. They include hardware, localization, QA, porting, and game testing.
When you look into these factors, they might not look much, but they will add to the unexpected expenses while developing a game.
Indie game developers at times, tend to underestimate the hardware cost requirements. Dev tools, high-end computers, and devices for game testing are some of the necessary hardware that you will need during game production and testing.
Localization is a very important process that helps the game to engage with the players. If not done right, it might ruin the entire gameplay experience for the players. It is better if you hire an experienced professional.
Quality Assurance and testing should be an iterative process, where you test the game multiple times on various devices and gaming platforms to ensure its performance and functionality. You cannot release the game without proper testing, as it may create errors or technical problems during the gameplay.
Cross-platform integration and game porting help you to reach a broader audience base.
Let us take mobile gaming platforms as an example. Android and iOS are the most popular mobile platforms and their app stores contain millions of games. By cross-platform integration, your game will be available for both players to play simultaneously, and you will be able to reach the audience who use Android phones and iPhones.
By outsourcing a game porting service you can port your games from PC to mobile devices or from mobile to Consoles or vice versa. Not only does this help to reach a huge set of audience, but it also contributes to increasing your revenue.
Gaming platform charges nearly 10 to 30 percent of the total profit from the games sold on their platform. The charges differ from one platform to another. For example, PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam platforms take a 30% cut from the sales of the game on their platform.
Additionally, there are registration charges that some game distribution platforms charge the game developers. Platforms like Google Play Store, Apple Store, and Steam have a small registration fee that you need to pay before availing their distribution services.
Game insurance is an important factor, most indie game developers tend to miss when they plan to develop games.
There are many types of insurance such as general liability insurance, cyber security insurance, employee insurance, errors and omissions, public and product liability, and many more.
For instance, let us take employee insurance. Even if you hire only two employees, you need employee insurance, as you pay salary for them. If they quit the job or have any issues, this might come in handy during that time.
You can get this insurance direct or you can hire an insurance broker. But do not forget to set these insurances right to make sure there are no future repercussions.
For a reason, they are called hidden costs. As these costs are not very huge, you might tend to ignore them or in some instances, you might not even notice them until you have to deal with them.
The COO of Bithell Games, Alexander Sliwinski, asks to set aside 20 to 30 percent of your game development budget to tackle unforeseen expenses. Because time and again, you cannot avoid these expenses.
There are a few things you can do to handle the hidden costs of a game which are listed below
We have provided a detailed breakdown of indie game development costs spent by independent game developers.
Content Creation Cost: $10,000 to $100,000+
Software Development Cost: $10,000 to $100,000+
(includes game engines, tools, testing, UI/UX, etc.,)
Hardware and Infrastructure Development Cost: $1,000 to $20,000+
Staffing Cost: $50,000 to $500,000 (per year)
Server and Hosting Cost: $1,000 to $10,000 (per month)
Legal and Compliance Cost: $5,000 to $20,000+
Game Insurance Cost: $2,000 to $10,000+
To sum up, indie game development cost range can be between $10,000 to $1 million which can differ depending upon your requirements to make a small-scale indie game or a high-end indie game. Apart from that, there are certain factors that influence indie game development costs such as the experience of the game developer, hardware requirements, localization, marketing costs, and game insurance among others.
If you are an indie game developer looking for outsourcing game development services, reach out to Juego Studios.
We are a video game development company with many years of experience in providing game outsourcing services to our clients. We also provide for hire game developers and game artists who have many years of hands-on experience in working with cutting-edge technologies and have successfully completed many game development projects.
The minimum indie game development cost can range between $1000 to $5000.
The maximum indie game development cost can be $1 million or more, based on your game making requirements.
The answer is yes. You can make a simple indie game within 1000 dollars.
A mobile game development company can provide for hire game artists and game developers and they also provide outsourcing services to indie game developers.