The share of mobile games in the gaming industry market already exceeds 50%, and this trend is not going to slow down. The reason for their popularity is simple – a smartphone is the most convenient medium with huge coverage that does not require any complex manipulations in order to install the game. Just click on the download button and start playing in a minute.
Mobile game development cost is a question that interests everyone who wants to break into this promising market. In general, the cost of mobile game development can range from $3,000 to $1 million. But it is unlikely that such a spread will seem to you a reasonable answer to your question.
So how much does it cost to build a mobile game? Is there a concept of average cost of a mobile game that can be taken as a basis for planning your budget? To understand how the price is formed, it is necessary to penetrate deeper into the very procedure of creating a game. So jump in, and let’s try to form logical and clear expectations about the mobile game app development cost.
Mobile is King: Distribution of Players by Platform in 2022
There are now about 3 billion mobile players in the world, and by 2023, their number will increase to 3.7 billion. Games of various genres can boast of a huge audience. This is the super popular PUBG Mobile battle royale with over 800 million downloads, and the simplest yet fantastically addicting casual game Fruit Ninja with a billion downloads.
Stages of Mobile Game Creation
Wondering how much does it cost to develop a game app? If you want to know exactly where your money will be spent, you need to start with the basics.
The procedure for creating a mobile game consists of the following stages:
|Market research||Researching the target audience, competitive proposals, current trends, and stylistic innovations to determine the optimal solutions||1 week|
|Game design document||The document includes a general image of the game, its target audience, platform (Android or iOS), genre, monetization options, scale, style, characters, etc. Implemented by the game designer||1 week|
|Technical specification||Discussing game mechanics, code objects, a control loop, game physics, and game object data. With the specification, one can determine the final cost of the work. Implemented by the lead programmer or technical director||2 weeks|
|Prototyping||The prototype is a general sketch of the game without details and art visuals, allowing you to understand the mechanics and appreciate the convenience of the gameplay||1 week|
|Game design||Creating all 2D/3D assets, characters, environment, and interface elements that determine the visual perception of the future game||3 weeks|
|Game programming||Writing program code, setting up a server, database, and API, as well as implementation of game graphics by embedding 2D or 3D content and VFX||2+ months|
|Sound design||Creating music, work with interface sounds and other sound effects for maximum fun||1 week|
|Testing||Detecting and correcting minor malfunctions or incorrect operation of certain systems||1 week|
|Publication||Placing the game on the respective Internet resources, Google Play Store or App Store. The product becomes available to the user||1 day|
On average, creating a simple game takes 2-4 months, while developing a complex product can take 4+ months.
Mobile app game development cost also depends on who you decide to work with. The total price for creating a game application has a different level depending on the specific country and region. Typically, programmers and experienced freelancers set an hourly rate that describes the scale and complexity of the project being implemented.
You can contact local contractors or look for outsourcing firms abroad. The high price does not always mean quality when it comes to the development of mobile game applications. This is clearly seen if we collect the salaries of programmers from around the world and compare them.
Requests from developers of approximately the same qualifications for 1 hour of working time:
For example, a popular game for Android and iOS called Angry Birds from the Finnish company Rovio was created over 9 months and cost $140,000 in development. It was at the top of the App Store charts for over a year and ended up making about $70 million, including selling stuffed animals and other merchandise. At the moment, the application continues to be modernized and updated to new versions. Agree, this is more than impressive.
Games with augmented reality such as Pokemon Go require higher costs, at least due to the introduction of a map service and geolocation tools. Information about the cost of the different stages of creating this game is freely available, so we can consider them right now:
- Client application development and game design – $100,000
- UI/UX – $6,500
- Backend – $80,000
- Server costs – $150,000
- Testing – $50,000
- Animation – $90,000
- Sound design – $20,000
- Management – $20,000
Ultimately, the app cost the company about $600,000. In 2020, the game’s revenue was $1 billion, which in total with the previous period amounted to a total of $4 billion.
How the Mobile Game Cost Estimation Works
Estimating the amount of work at each stage, which means calculating mobile game cost of development, is a difficult task. To do this, you need to have a good idea of the end result and be tech-savvy to estimate the labor costs for each function. Therefore, as a rule, the most experienced specialists are involved in this process.
Remember: experienced companies that have been on the market for a long time and have implemented many mobile entertainment projects will not find it difficult to give you a more or less accurate estimate of the cost of your project.
If the studio finds it difficult to give you specific numbers, think about the expediency of such cooperation: most likely, throughout the work, you will face a lot of misunderstandings, new expenses, and a constant increase in the planned budget. The initially planned small mobile game development cost will gradually inflate to unprecedented proportions and it is not a fact that this will lead to a positive result.
Typically, the cost estimate takes place in two stages:
- Free preliminary cost estimate. Although the preliminary estimate is called rough, it allows you to form an idea of the required amount of investment needed to create a game application before signing any contracts. You can get it within 1-2 days for free.
- The exact price for the development of a mobile game. A more accurate assessment of the game development price list is supported by an agreement, which fixes the terms and stages of work with a detailed description of the final result.
There are also cases when, with an increase in the depth of understanding of the development process, the original task is rethought, which can affect the final cost. These may be nuances that were not foreseen before.
Therefore, developers make decisions about removing something from the main list as unnecessary or adding something to it. This is especially true when unique games are created that have no analogues. Of course, in today’s mobile games market, this is almost impossible. But even now there are amazing ideas that have undergone a huge number of improvements and adjustments since their implementation.
Creating a mobile game? Learn more about topical trends, the best mobile engines, and monetization strategies to help you quickly recoup your costsDive deeper
It’s good if the company you are partnering with has already created games with similar features and gameplay. In this case, the answer to the question “how much does it cost to make a game app?” will not get lost in endless recalculations.
A regular game requires more and more content at the same time to keep the player interested. Players already know how to manipulate everything, they do not need to learn, they do not waste time on some initial understanding of the project, but immediately come in and start playing. Little content will make the game boring and the player will go to another game.
In mobile games, if you don’t hold the player for 15-30 seconds with graphics and then another hour with gameplay, you lose the player.
Apart from mobile game producing cost, it is important to remember about mobile game releasing cost. To post and distribute your application on Google Play and/or App Store, you need to create either Enterprise or Individual account and pay a fee.
|App Store||Google Play|
|$99 annually||$25 one-time|
You get access to the developer’s libraries and, in fact, to the store. There is documentation in the developer console that allows you to understand how you need to create your application in order for it to meet certain requirements. For iOS, the requirements are more stringently checked since all applications must be executed in a more or less similar style and have a similar arsenal.
Major Pricing Factors
Speaking about how much does it cost to create a mobile game, it is important to consider not only the complexity of the project, but also the following features:
- type and functionality;
- professionalism of the performer;
- marketing policy.
Let’s do an in-depth mobile game development cost breakdown and look on the above factors in more detail.
Defining mobile game development cost starts with choosing a technical foundation. Android, iOS, or cross-development type – you need to think about this right away since it directly affects the cost.
Despite the huge variety of Android devices with different screen sizes and capacities, the type of development on this platform is the least expensive. Working with iOS is more costly due to the integration of the payment system and the admin panel, as well as because of a large number of restrictions on applications that are allowed in the App Store.
The average cost to make a mobile game for iOS is 10-20% higher than for Android. Thus, if a game for Android costs $25,000, then its analogue for iOS will cost about $30,000.
There is also cross-development option where the game is suitable for both platforms. Oddly enough, this type greatly simplifies the implementation and deployment process because you do not need to create a separate application for each platform. Gaming applications can use the same engine that was once developed for most platforms.
Type and Functionalities
The huge range of games can make it a challenge to choose what you want. But your budget can serve as a guideline for you. 2D games cost less than 3D games due to less time to create and the involvement of fewer specialists and technologies.
Elementary 2D Games
For example, an elementary 2D game where you need to perform a single action such as moving blocks or catching flying elements will cost you a maximum of $ 5,000. If you need more than a simple Pacman and have some special idea, the cost can go up to $ 10,000. In light of today’s prices for mobile games, this can be considered quite cheap.
Such games actually have no end since the activities are repeated and this is not supported by any plot instructions. These products can also be monetized through in-game purchases. For example, a player can buy extra time or hit points. Simple games can be sophisticated enough to create because of the need to think over an intuitive UI/UX that will be understandable to both a young child and a white-haired old man.
Casual 2D Games
Casual 2D games like the platformer Red Ball with an interesting storyline, lots of challenging levels, boss battles, and a creative soundtrack will cost you between $25,000 and $50,000. Such games are characterized by a high level of involvement of the players, because, unlike the previous category, they have an end, and the player strives to fulfill the main victory condition by all means.
Mid-Level 3D Games
The so-called mid-level games are already three-dimensional products that require well-thought-out characters, modern graphics, an exciting and intriguing plot, and unpredictable gameplay. These are games for those who are not satisfied with elementary graphics, but are not ready for AAA quality products either due to lack of time or due to technical limitations of the device. These games cost between $50,000 and $120,000 in development.
Hardcore 3D Games
If you want to lure tons of players into your hardcore game net with multiplayer, 3D graphics, and interesting strategic variations, be prepared to shell out at least $150,000. Here you will have to not only think over the mechanics of interacting players, a huge number of scenarios and 3D models, but also the server part, which will be the basis for the players to meet online and play together.
Professionalism of the Performer
The experience of the performer also affects the mobile game making cost. First of all, this affects the quality of the created art and the developed technical aspects, as well as the speed of work.
Above, we have indicated the cost of an hour of development, depending on the region. It will not be possible to accurately formulate the formula for the dependence of the price on the company’s experience, since this is an individual vision of each studio and its assessment of the professionalism of its employees.
But on average, we can talk about at least one and a half gap in the final cost of the services of a newly-made and experienced company.
That is, if it is certain that the newly-founded studio undertakes to make your project for $5,000, then the more experienced one will most likely request at least $7,500 for the same amount of work.
At Kevuru Games, we have worked on 50+ mobile game projects of various genres and difficulty levels: match-three, arcade games, puzzles, quests, and more. You can see some of our projects in the portfolio and order a free estimate of your future game: the vast experience of working with mobile games will allow us to do this quickly and accurately.
Special mention should be made of testers, since testing is an important part of the video game development life cycle. QA engineers check:
- Does the gaming application attract users?
- Does the app have interesting features?
- Is the app design user-friendly?
- Are game features easily accessible?
- Is the quality of the media files appropriate?
Testers are responsible for ensuring that users receive the error-free product they expect, in accordance with all requirements.
A common mistake is the opinion that the role of a tester is within the power of a project manager, coder, or the customer. However, through such an approach, there is a risk of spending thousands of dollars on the development of a game that:
- will not run on the old version of Android, which is used by 30% of users;
- will not allow the user to go to the next level, because one cannot defeat the boss due to an error in textures or an incorrect BoxCollider;
- will be published with unverified monetization, and players will be able to hack or ignore it, depriving developers of earnings, etc.
Quality assessment services are usually included in the cost of developing the game. Therefore, you do not need to swagger and try to abandon this expense item. Playing with bugs can wipe out all previous efforts, and there is plenty of evidence for this.
Hundreds of new mobile games are released every day. Without advertising and prior notice, no one will know about your product. Therefore, you need to involve the marketing component. A fairly common option is that when looking for the answer to the question “how much does it cost to make a mobile game”, people completely overlook the need to talk loudly about their game.
There are two options here:
- You can do marketing yourself with the help of your team.
- You can entrust it to the company with which you collaborated.
The second option is more common since in this way you avoid the semantic gap and have the opportunity to appreciate the holistic performance of your partner. ASO and SEO optimization, advertising campaigns, and marketing strategy are what teams who perform full-cycle services offer. The game is being promoted on social media and gets publicity even before its release.
The cost of marketing services is usually not included in the mobile game builing cost. But if you agree that your developer partner handles advertising, then you can avoid problems such as allocating a marketing budget above the cost of the game itself. This may be adequate for the AAA giants, but for small to medium-sized games it’s completely impractical.
Wrapping Up: How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile Game?
So let’s recap what we’ve learned about the cost of developing a mobile game. Everything directly depends on the desired scale of the future game.
Here are average costs to make a mobile game:
- Elementary 2D games – up to $10,000.
- Casual 2D games – up to $50,000.
- Mid-level games – up to $120,000.
- Hardcore games – more than $150,000.
By planning your mobile game budget, you will be able to avoid the frustration of not matching your desires with your financial possibilities. And a reliable outsourcing partner will help you determine the cost of making a mobile game app based on your description and vision.
Why It Makes It Sense to Create Mobile Games with Us
So how much does it cost to develop a mobile game? It all depends on your ambition and budget. Tell us what you need and what goals you want to achieve, and Kevuru Games will give you a clear estimate.
Each game developed with Kevuru Games is a new dimension of entertainment that quickly engages players with its originality and complete absence of plagiarism. Our clients receive a full range of services for the development and promotion of mobile games, from concept creation to placement on gaming platforms. We offer the creation of games for Android and iOS of various genres in order to reach the players as effectively as possible on an emotional level.
Our professional artists and game developers will bring your idea to life and make your project a success. Game development is carried out using advanced technologies that provide maximum functionality and ease of use. A transparent pricing system will give you a clear view of where your every dollar has gone. Let’s prove that even in a market saturated with gaming products, you can still show something absolutely amazing: contact us and together we will figure out how to do it.