Game Development Cost Breakdown: What To Expect

October 30, 2023
October 30, 2023

As modern games get more sophisticated and high-tech, the average cost of development increases. AAA titles can cost more than $1 billion to produce. That’s a scary number to think about for new developers. Fortunately, most games aren’t quite that pricey to make. This game development cost breakdown will help you budget for your next project so you know what to expect.

Key Takeaways:

  • As the complexity of video games increases, so does the development cost. Breaking down the development cost of your game can help you set a realistic budget for your project.
  • Mobile games tend to be the least expensive games to develop, while console, online, and VR games cost the most.
  • Multiple factors affect development costs, including the complexity of your game, development time, the expertise of the developers you work with, the platform, and the game engine and tools you use.
  • Once you have a completed game, you will have additional costs for a soft launch, advertising, live ops, and new content to budget for.
  • Outsourcing some development functions can save you money versus paying in-house staff.

Game Development Cost Breakdown by Game Platform Type

The cost of developing a video game varies widely depending on what type of game you plan to develop. Simple mobile games are relatively inexpensive to produce, while complex console games and games featuring advanced technology, such as virtual reality, cost the most.

Mobile Games

A mobile game with basic functionality costs between $10k and $50k to develop on a single platform. Games with complex features and advanced graphics may cost up to $600k to build.

Graph comparing the costs of different stages of mobile game development
https://www.21twelveinteractive.com/benefits-3d-2d-game-development/

Alt Text: Graph comparing the costs of different stages of mobile game development

Console Games

Console games are one of the most expensive types of games to produce because they are usually more complex than PC or mobile games and require a large team of developers. AAA titles can easily cost millions of dollars to make.

PC Games

PC games are usually more expensive than mobile games but less expensive than console games to produce. The average development cost for a PC game is $20k to $5 million, depending on how large and complex the game is and how long it takes to make it.

Virtual Reality Games

Virtual reality games require specialized skills that come with an extra cost compared to traditional games. A casual game for a VR platform can cost as much as $100k, while more complex titles cost up to $10 million to make.

Online Games

At an average cost of between $1 million and $100 million, online games are among the most costly to produce. Online games require large development teams and a substantial investment in server infrastructure.  

Factors That Affect Your Game Development Cost Breakdown

There is a lot of variation in the development cost of games even when they are on the same platform. These are some of the factors that influence how much games cost to make.

Experience and Expertise of Developers

Developers with years of experience and a stellar reputation charge higher average rates. However, they are usually able to complete projects faster, which can offset the higher cost of their salary. The average salary of a game developer in the United States is $91,000. Developers based in countries with a lower cost of living charge lower average rates.

Graph comparing the average rates developers in different countries charge.
https://kevurugames.com/blog/how-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-video-game-clear-formula-and-the-highest-grossing-genres-in-2023/

Complexity

Complexity is one of the biggest factors that affect your game development cost breakdown. The more complex a game is, the more it costs to hire developers with the necessary skills and to purchase hardware and software. Additionally, the more complicated a game is, the longer it takes to make it, which increases cost.

Simple games, such as trivia games, or puzzles, may only need a single developer. AAA titles usually need a large team, which may include artists and sound engineers along with many designers and programmers.

Development Time

The average cost to develop a game in the U.S. is $100 to $150 per hour. The more time it takes to develop your game, the more it costs. A small mobile game usually takes two to four months to complete. Larger games may take up to a year.

AAA titles for PC and consoles can take multiple years to produce. You can estimate the total cost of your game by multiplying the expected number of labor hours by the average hourly cost and then adding in additional costs for hardware, software, tools, and other expenses.

Platform

Gaming platforms usually charge developers between 10%-30% of their game’s profits. Popular platforms, such as Xbox, Playstation, and Steam, charge the highest rates. For mobile games, it costs 10%-20% more to develop a game for iOS than Android because of the higher administration and payment system costs.

Game Engine and Tools

Using tools and pre-built game engines can save money because it speeds up development; however, popular tools can cost hundreds of dollars per month in licensing fees. You may be able to save money by using open-source tools. In addition to the cost of the tools themselves, hiring developers with experience working with popular tools may come at a premium price.

Post-Development Costs

The cost of developing a new game doesn’t end when you have a completed product. You will also need to pay for a soft launch to work out the kinks, advertising to promote your game, and live ops services to keep your game running. Additionally, you will have ongoing costs for new content creation and other services. It is important to factor in these costs when creating your budget.

How Sonamine Can Save You Money on Game Development Costs

Sonamine offers services such as project management, live ops, asset creation, and monetization that can help you develop your game more efficiently and save you money compared to paying for in-house staff and hardware. Including a cost comparison between developing your game in house and outsourcing some aspects of your game development cost breakdown can help you determine how much you could save. Contact us today to learn more.

Join our newsletter and receive a FREE
Player Retention
Best Practices GUIDE
Get the e-book now
Receive a FREE
Player Retention
GUIDE
Get the
e-book now
Money Back Guarantee For Braze Customers

For a limited time until Mar 2024, Sonamine is offering a 60 day money back guarantee to Braze customers. Come experience the ease and simplicity of the First Time Spender Nudge package and watch your conversions soar.

Get started
Money Back Guarantee For Braze Customers

For a limited time until Mar 2024, Sonamine is offering a 60 day money back guarantee to Braze customers. Come experience the ease and simplicity of the First Time Spender Nudge package and watch your conversions soar.

Get started
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.