If you want to develop a mobile game, there are several factors you have to consider to determine the overall cost of development. Each of the elements can have a significant impact on your development budget.
So, to stay within your budget, you have to assess them carefully. Especially as mobile game development cost have risen in the past decade, and to develop a mobile game now you need a top mobile game development company, and also you require a bigger budget than you did before.
Without further ado, below we list the most critical factors that will determine the total cost of developing your mobile game:
1. The Development Team
The size of your game development team has a significant impact on your game’s overall cost.
The size correlates with the scope of your game. So, the bigger your mobile game, the bigger the team and the budget you need.
Most of the cost of your team comes from two main areas: Operating Expenses and Specialists.
Operating expenses are the regular expenses for your ongoing business operations. These everyday expenses include your employees’ salaries, your office space’s rent, utilities like electricity and internet, other amenities like coffee and snacks, miscellaneous office supplies, etc.
And the bigger your team, the bigger your operating expenses will be.
Hiring specialists is likewise expensive. Because specialists usually require higher pay. However, the expense is worth it, as specialists produce higher quality work than others.
So, the more specialists you hire, the higher your expenses will be.
2. Cost of Hardware and Software
Games are software. So, to develop games, your team requires sufficient hardware and software.
Hardware means workstations for your team to use to develop your game. And depending on your game’s complexity and the work demands of your team members, you’ll need systems with varied hardware specifications. For instance, a low-spec laptop may be sufficient for your project manager, while your modeling artist would need a high-spec desktop.
In addition, the amount you spend on your hardware also depends on how you prefer to get your workstations.
The first option is to buy your workstations. If you buy them, then your workstations will be a tangible asset for you. However, you will have to spend more compared to the other options.
The second option is to rent your hardware from companies that rent out workstations. If you choose to rent, you spend a lower amount in the short term. But over the long-term, you risk spending more compared to buying.
The final option is to buy refurbished workstations. Under this option, you get workstations with minimal spending. But unlike buying from scratch, refurbished workstations won’t be a long-term asset for you.
However, you don’t have to choose one of these options over the others. You can choose to use all of them. For example, you can buy a certain number of workstations, rent a few, and then get some refurbished ones as well.
You must exercise similar care when choosing software, as they are crucial in determining your game’s overall development cost. Software are the tools your team requires to create your game. And every department in your game development team needs some sort of software to do their job.
Your developers will require game engines and game development frameworks. Similarly, your artists need tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. At the same time, your animators require software like Maya and 3DS Max.
Software like these that your team needs are usually paid software, and their prices can significantly impact the overall development cost of your mobile game.
3. Game Graphics
Mobile game visuals have improved in recent years. As a result, player expectations have also changed, and now players expect games to be excellent visually.
And if your mobile game needs good visuals, you must spend more on your game because complex visuals require more work from artists and developers. So, the better the quality of the characters, props, and environments in your game, the higher your game’s cost will be.
In addition, the cost is higher for games with high-fidelity 3D visuals, especially since players expect today’s 3D games to have realistic visuals.
Furthermore, your mobile game’s development cost increases even further if you want your game to have realistic physics (like life-like character movements) and particle effects (like rippling water) because your effects and animation team will need to spend a whole lot of time creating them.
Similarly, 2D games can also be quite expensive. Even simple 2D mobile games of today have good quality visuals. To compete with these games, your game will need good 2D visuals, animation, and effects.
You will have to devote a significant part of your development budget towards marketing.
And today’s mobile game marketing falls under two categories: paid and organic.
Paid marketing methods of mobile game marketing are the methods where you pay to get results. Your investment will be higher, and it will be geared towards short-term rewards. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and in-game Ads are three standard paid mobile game marketing methods.
Google Ads come in two categories mainly: Search Ads and Display Ads. Search Ads are ads shown in search results. Display Ads are ads shown in places like between text in articles.
Likewise, Facebook Ads are ads of different formats which are shown to relevant Facebook users.
Similarly, In-game ads are ads shown in various mobile games in video and image formats.
All these three paid avenues are known to deliver good results.
Organic marketing methods similarly net good results for marketing mobile games. In addition, organic methods require less investment upfront and deliver results long-term. Common organic methods include App Store Optimization (ASO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
App Store Optimization is the method you use to rank higher in the search results of App Store and Playstore for the right searches. Because a higher position among search results means more people will see your game. App Store Optimization includes creating a fitting and catchy game title and icon, a good description of your game and its features, and good images.
SEO is similar to ASO, as you use it to rank higher among search results in the results of search engines. Search Engine Optimization methods include creating a good website, writing great content, and promoting the website on various avenues.
Your mobile game’s maintenance costs can have a significant impact on your overall budget.
Mobile game maintenance usually falls under three categories: bug fixes, updates, and server maintenance.
As the name suggests, Bug fixes are the method of fixing the bugs in your game after your game is released. This process will require you to hold on to your development team for some more time post-development, as they check compatibility, performance issues, logic errors, etc., and fix them. This process also means your operating expenses will go on for a more extended time.
While bug fixing fixes issues, updates improve the game. Mobile game updates are content updates you make to engage and retain your players for a longer period. Like in bug fixing, to create routine updates, you need a team working regularly.
Meanwhile, if your game has multi-player features, you will need someone to maintain your game’s servers. You will need to make sure your game’s server doesn’t go down for long, the network data transmission is quick enough, and other multi-player aspects are working as they should.
These days, mobile game development costs are high. Therefore, to develop an excellent mobile game, you must be prepared to invest a good amount.
However, you don’t need to have a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a good game. You can make a good game with a smaller budget. Take the factors mentioned in the article and budget your game accordingly.
The mobile game you develop at a lower budget may even edge out its competitors comfortably.