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.
There are now more than 2.5 billion mobile players in the world, and in 2021, their number will increase to 2.7 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.
Mobile game development cost is a question that interests everyone who wants to break into this promising market. In general, the cost 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. 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 cost of a mobile game.
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 and analysis. Research of the target audience and competitive proposals is carried out to determine the optimal solutions. (1 week)
- Writing a game design document. Here it is necessary to approve the general image of the game, its target audience, genre, monetization options, scale and style. (1 week)
- Creation of technical specifications. Developing a concept for creating games, discussing game mechanics and choosing a suitable platform (Android or iOS). After drawing up the specifications, you can determine the final cost of the work. (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. Creation of 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, API, implementation of game graphics (interface and animation) with the ability to embed 2D or 3D content. (2+ months)
- Development of a sound scheme. Music, work with voice and other sound effects for maximum fun. (1 week)
- Testing the finished product. Detecting and correcting minor malfunctions or incorrect operation of certain systems. (1 week)
- Publication. Finished mobile games are posted on the respective Internet resources Google Play Store or App Store. The product becomes available to users. (1 day)
On average, creating a simple game takes 2-4 months, while developing a complex product can take 4+ months.
Prices also depend on who you decide to work with. The total price for the formation of a game application has a different level for a particular 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 how much it costs to develop a mobile application, 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.
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 increasing depth of understanding of the development process, a rethinking of the original task occurs, which can affect the final cost. It can be nuances that was not be foreseen before. So developers make decisions to remove something from the primary list as unnecessary or add 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.
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 do not keep the player for 15-30 seconds with the graphics, and then another hour of gameplay, you loose the player.
To distribute the application, you need to buy a developer license from Apple, it costs $ 100 per year. In Google, this is a one-time payment in about the same range. 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
The cost of the service directly depends on the complexity of the project and 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.
On average, developing a game for iOS costs 10-20% more 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 Functionality
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.
For example, an elementary 2D game where you need to perform one 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. 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.
2D casual 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.
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.
If you want to lure tons of players into your 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 development 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.
Testers should be mentioned separately, because testing is an important part of the life cycle of computer games development. QA engineers check:
- working capacity.
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. It turns out that level 39 is impossible to pass, because you cannot defeat the boss due to an error in textures or an incorrect BoxCollider. Or how about meeting with unverified monetization, and then wondering how experienced players circumvent it, leaving no opportunity for income.
Quality assessment services are 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 game app”, people completely overlook the need to talk loudly about their game.
There are two options here. You can engage in marketing on your own using your team, or you can entrust it to the company with which you cooperated. 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 included in the cost of developing a game. If you agree that your partner developer is engaged in advertising, then you can avoid problems such as allocating a marketing budget higher than the cost of the game itself. This may be true for AAA giants, but for small to medium-sized games it is completely impractical.
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.