Greetings to all those who are not indifferent to IT technologies and computer games. What question, in my opinion, can be asked by an interested person who wants to enter the game development industry? That question is, “How many?” How much money is needed to implement the idea? What is the time required to release a superb AAA project? Will the professionalism of the chosen art studio be enough to provide players with the best result that they will not reject? How much can you earn from selling a video game and receive income from its further technological support?
We asked questions – we will look for answers. And Google will help us with this again.
The cost of the game.
In the search results, Google provided an article from 2018 published on a well-known site. After carefully reading what was written, I decided that the information in the report could still be relevant today and be taken as a basis. We have the opportunity to compare the forecast of 2018 on our topic with the current situation for today – 2022. After six years – the term for the game world is significant.
The article is written by a professional in his field, and it is a deeper analysis of the data presented in the report at the Casual Connect conference. He used data from more than 250 games released over several decades. I cannot question his method of collecting and processing this data since he does not have his own.
The most expensive games to produce are console and AAA projects, which crossed the $50 million budget in 1997. Since about 1995, the dynamics of the cost of producing an AAA game every ten years has grown ten times. This means that the budget for the game’s development a billion dollars will be spent in 2028. To date, several well-known games have had a budget of over $ 300 million, based on the official reports of the developers. But that’s not all. Marketing services are not taken into account in the development budget. To promote the game on the market, up to 75-100% of the development budget is laid. Regarding mobile games, the development budgets of several games from the release until 2018 ranged from 5 to 20 million dollars. And indie games for PC – up to several million dollars.
Further, after some inferences, the article’s author asks, “How many dollars does the developer spend per byte?”. It turns out that the efficiency of creating games increased by six times (the volume of the game increased by 122 times, and the cost of developing the game – by 22 times). This applies to both indie games and monster AAA games. Most likely, as the author writes, the reason is that the salaries of industry workers do not depend on the segment of games. But players in 2018 spent two times less on games than in the 80s, considering inflation.
About the time spent. In 2018, game design companies spent more than hundreds of hours creating a game character. And now, about the same time costs. It all depends on the models’ complexity, role in the game (foreground, background), and so on.
In 2028, the average AAA game will be free. Some games will pay you to play them. Even then, this was present in free-to-play games. And today, we see this about multiplayer network AAA games. And as game developers say, “the business is not outside, but the business is inside.” For such games, the average player must pay a certain amount. The more players play the game, the longer the life cycle of the game, and the smaller this amount. For 2018, this amount was $ 60. In some modern multiplayer online games, you can achieve decent results without investing, but whether the player wants to spend much more time for such a status, the desire to buy at a higher rate will likely play its part.
And then there’s the forecast. “The development of one terabyte of the game in the early 2020s will cost $ 250 million. We must not forget that, for the most part, we are talking about the cost of technology development. That makes sense. As long as technology advances exponentially, so will the costs.”
One of the solutions to minimize costs is Game Development Outsourcing.
Large projects for developing AAA class games began attracting small art studios on outsourcing rights. To date, game outsourcing is an integral part of the development of any game project. According to analysts at the External Development Summit, 81 and 97% of games use contractors. Outsourcing game development involves the creation of 3D and 2D game characters, where there can be tens and hundreds of thousands of them. Create level maps, and fill these maps with various details – such as trees, vegetation, animals, and so on. And it is also necessary to present them all in dynamics, “revive”, accompanied by sound effects. All of these characters and details are called digital assets.
With engines like Unity or Unreal, it’s convenient to create assets remotely and integrate them on the developer’s side. In the next five years, the market should grow further – primarily due to the fast Internet, the total globalization of the world, and the complication of game production, which stimulates to delegate more and more content to outsourcing.
This approach saves money for large game developers and minimizes fixed costs. And one more aspect. Small game developers can produce work of exceptionally high quality, which is difficult to produce within a large company. It’s easier for a small team to move from one project to another or wait for a new project. And the company will not have to worry about the current project since the contractor will perform this task. As a result, large manufacturers and publishers of games retain the main functions – top management, game design, and art direction.
Here is one of the best, in my opinion, art studios that specialize in providing game development outsourcing services. They estimate their services from 25 to 49 dollars per hour. Most art studios operate in this pay range. But the quality of work and compliance with schedules could be adequately appreciated by a client from military structures. Looking through the portfolio, I saw that they work and create not only games for the entertainment industry. They presented a training simulator of combat with virtual reality for the military. With a total area created by them, virtual world maps are 75 square miles. The amount of work is impressive.