Mobile gaming has grown rapidly in the past decade thanks to the lockdown and the new emerging technologies. In 2022, the mobile gaming market alone accounts for 50% ($92 billion) of the revenue and it is expected that it will reach 60% by the end of 2023.
Raph Koster, an American Entrepreneur and Game Designer says that the game development cost seems to double every five years since the 1990s. In the past few years, game development costs have skyrocketed with the creation of huge-budget AAA games making it an expensive business.
Despite that, game development need not be necessarily expensive. It generally depends on the type of game you wanted to create. Game development cost can be anywhere from $5000 to a million dollars.
To get a better idea of mobile game development costs you can break down the various cost factors and calculate them.
Estimation price can be obtained by calculating the various cost factors in the game development process. Or simply you can contact a game development studio and ask them for a cost estimate.
The cost estimate is basically divided into two as preliminary cost estimate and detailed cost estimate.
Let us see them in detail.
The preliminary cost estimate gives you a rough estimate of the monetary investment needed for the game production. You can get an idea of the game budget.
When you enquire with a mobile game development company, they will provide an estimate within a day or two depending on the type of game you want to make.
The detailed cost estimate is the actual cost that is required for the game production. It includes all the cost factors and miscellaneous expenses during the entire game production process.
The mobile game development cost breakdown will help you to better understand the various factors that influence game development costs.
Here, let me show you the various cost factors in mobile game development.
Game engines are the heart of game development, and it costs quite a lot to make game engines for the games. Nowadays mobile game development companies use free game development software. Unity 3D, Unreal Engine, and Cocos Creator are some of the famous game engines used to create games.
Some game engines like Unity 3D offer free services for game production and the game developers are required to pay only when the game makes more than $100,000. Despite that, if you need some exclusive features that are not available in the free version then you might need to pay for them.
Apart from that there are many game tools like Character Creator Pipeline, Helix Core, Blender, and Houdini which are used in creating game design and game art. You need to pay a set price to avail yourself of the services offered by these tools.
Graphics quality has a great impact on the mobile game development cost. With the graphics quality constantly evolving along with the new technologies, AAA games use cutting-edge technology to create high end graphics. The high-end graphics require efficient hardware capacities to produce a realistic game environment.
Apart from that, it is a known fact that 3D graphics cost more than 2D. In 2D graphics, the starting price to create a character model starts from some $50, and depending on other factors like the quality of the graphics and details they extend up to $1000. Whereas in 3D graphics the starting cost is $1000, and its cost extends to thousands of dollars.
The game type is generally divided into mini-games, mid-level games, and AAA games.
Mini games have simple game mechanics, and they are easier to learn and play. Arcade games, puzzle games, mini trivia games, and causal sports games are some examples of mini games.
These games can be self-standing games, or they can be part of other big games that can be used to gain coins and rewards.
Genre: Arcade games, simple puzzle games, casual and hyper casual games.
Estimated cost range: $5000 to $50000
Example: Flappy bird, Fruit Ninja
Genre: Memory games, Simple simulation games, action games and racing games.
Estimated cost range: $50000 to $100,000
Example: Super-Hot; Papers, Please.
Mid-level games use a bit complex game mechanics with many different levels for the players to explore. The cost difference in mid-level games depends on the graphics, sound effects, and artwork usage in the game.
The mid-level games can be separated into two categories depending on their use of 2D or 3D art.
Genre: Strategy games, Puzzle games, Platformers, etc.
Estimated cost range: $50000 to $200,000
Example: Make of Ninja, TownFall Ascension
Genre: Fighting games, Simulation games and Adventure games.
Estimated cost range: $200,000 to $1,00,0000
Example: HellBlade, Little Nightmare
AAA games are massive budget games which incorporates innovative technology to create games. These games use high end graphics, complex gameplay mechanics, detailed artwork and a huge team.
Mostly huge game studios create AAA games, spending millions on game development and making billions of dollars in return. Fortnight by Epic Games Studio is a great example, which spent nearly $300k in creating Fortnight and gained a revenue of $10 billion.
The AAA games can be divided into high-end AAA games and blockbuster AAA games.
Genre: Role playing games (RPG), First person shooter (FPS) and Racing games.
Estimated cost range: $50 million to $200 million
Example: God of War, Mass Effect Series.
Genre: Open world action-adventure games, MMORPG, Real Time Strategy (RTS).
Estimated cost range: $200 million and above
Example: Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed, Red dead Redemption 2
You have developed a game which is very fun and enjoyable. Will it be successful if you just launch them in the Appstore?
No. It will not. Because you need to make sure it reaches the right audience for the game to become successful and generate revenue. Hence, it is important that a certain amount of money is spent on marketing the game.
Marketing costs make up to nearly 30% of the total cost of the game development. The marketing team employs many tactics like in-game marketing, influencer marketing, advertising, and brand sponsorships.
Among them influencer marketing has reached new levels in selling the games. Coin Master and Brawl stars are some great examples for influencer marketing.
The big game studios spend millions on marketing. They conduct many marketing campaigns to promote their game.
Let us take Fortnight as an example. Fortnight organized an in-game virtual concert of Travis Scott which was attended by 12.3 million active players creating a new record. According to Forbes, Epic was planning for the event for months and spent quite a lot of money. It is estimated that Epic signed nearly $15 million with Travis Scott for the concert.
Games testing is the final and important process where the game is tested for quality control and quality assurance during game production and post-game production. It ensures the functioning of the game and removes any bugs in the game.
Mobile game testing uses multiple strategies such as functional testing, performance testing, compliance testing, compatibility testing, security testing and localization testing.
Apart from that White Box Testing and Black Box Testing are used in testing mobile game applications. This testing can only be executed by professional software testers which especially costs more.
To test a mobile application, it costs anywhere from $5000 to $10,000. The cost might vary depending on the game type and the types of testing employed.
The mobile platforms influence the mobile game development costs, and the cost differs from one platform to another.
Android and iOS are the most used platforms by mobile game development companies. You are required to pay registration charges before uploading an app in Google Play Store or Apple Store. You can observe that the registration charges are less in google play store ($25) when compared to apple store ($99).
Mobile game applications make the most money from in-game purchases and the platforms require gaming companies to pay service charges for the in-game profit. Let us take Google Play Store, which charges nearly a 15% service fee when the game earns more than $1 million and it might extend the service fee up to 30% depending on the performance of the game. Additionally, they also charge for subscriptions and other transactions.
Every platform has its own specifications and restrictions. It is safe to say, the game applications should follow those guidelines to avoid any complications. You might have seen Epic Games and Apple Store fighting a legal battle for not complying with the guidelines.
Mobile game development costs also rely on the game developers you hire. It is important that you choose the right game developer to produce your games. You can check their portfolio to look for similar genre games they have produced earlier.
If you have a very limited budget, then you can go for freelance game developers which costs less than a large game development studio. But, if you want quality high-end games, then go for studios that have an experienced bundle of game developers.
Yet again, the development costs also depend on the size of the team and the time taken to develop the game. In case you want the game to be produced quicker, then it would require additional resources for the developers to compensate for the time. So, the cost of production will be increased in this case.
Nowadays game developers release games globally, targeting gamers worldwide. The game developers use translation, localization and internationalization to provide a personalized experience to the audience.
It costs quite a lot of money for localization and internationalization.
Let me explain localization and internationalization in brief.
Localization is the process where the game developers modify the language, the local trends and inculcate other localized factors to provide an enjoyable gaming experience for the local gamers and increase their engagement with the game.
English is the language mostly used in games due to its large player base. Apart from that, French, Spanish, and German can be used for localization as these languages has huge video game player base.
Internationalization is used to provide a localized experience to the games by making alterations to the codes, game features, and other technical aspects of the game.
In conclusion, mobile game development costs depend entirely on your aspiration and your budget. Other factors like game engine, testing, marketing, and game genre also play an important role in development costs.
To sum up,
Mini games cost range: $5000 – $100,000
Mid-level games cost range: $50000 – $1,00,0000
AAA games cost range: $50 million – $200 million and above.
Juego Studios is an experienced game development studio and we have created many successful games. Our team of artists, designers, animators, and testing engineers works efficiently to bring your game to life. We create mobile games in various genres compatible with both Android and iOS devices. You can be assured that every penny you spend will be worth it.
Game development is expensive because using new technologies costs more. Apart from that the game development companies also need to invest more money to market their games and even pay for the platforms.
AAA games cost more as they use high-end graphics, detailed artwork, complex gameplay mechanics and cutting-edge technology to provide a realistic feel to the players.
You can reduce the cost of mobile games development using offshore outsourcing. It also reduces the mobile game development time.