How much does it cost to create a mobile game in 2023
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The cost of mobile game development can be high, but with the right team and dedicated approach, the game app can change your life.
According to CBInsights, a mobile segment in the gaming industry grows the fastest and will reach $100+ billion in revenue by the end of 2021. This can make this industry as profitable as any other.
So, if your ultimate goal is to glue users to the screen, it is important to know how profits can correspond to spendings on mobile game development.
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Factors that determine the cost of mobile game development
Let’s get down to the point. Mobile came development costs can vary from $3 000 to $150 000 and this may bother anyone who starts the mobile game development process.
How to calculate the cost of your game?Lots of factors can affect how much your game development costs, yet, if you know what you want, you can manage it easily.
Seems simple enough: if you want a little mini-game or a puzzle with minimum animated pieces and repeated levels, your mobile game will cost about $3 000 - $5 000.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something more epic, like a 3D mobile game or a strategy with lots of characters and complex levels, you will have to spend more.The development of a project like this would cost ten times more.
The most expensive mobile game in development is a multiplayer RPG with different interactive elements, quests, various locations, etc. These games usually cost above $150 000 and look like AAA projects.
These are responsible for both mobile game popularity and profitability as well as the above-the-clouds development costs.
Mobile game scenario complexity
First, a scenario is not only a written document that determines the “main hero journey” in your mobile game. It’s a complex structure of levels, locations, and character descriptions, the internal texts, cutscenes, soundtrack. All this massive block of content has to be addictive.
The more levels you create, the more complex your game logic becomes. And the point is to create scalable architecture. Without it, your game will crash as soon as your mobile game gains the desired popularity.
Work with the right team and evaluate your target audience’s needs. Puzzle doesn’t have to be a large game, but scalable architecture for RPG mobile games is a must.
Simple math; 3D animations will cost more than 2D. The more 3D animated elements you have the higher the mobile game development cost gets.
Think carefully about the functional and interactive elements and your game will be addictive.
Mobile game testing
The larger your game is, the more testing it requires. Testers, as mobile game developers, have hourly rates. So, the more they work for you the higher is your paycheck.
However, you should not cut corners on this element of development. Testing is as important as anything in the game, and if you don’t want users to be irritated ensure that the quality assurance process works well.
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Can the platform affect mobile game development costs in 2022?
Not really, if you use Unity. This technology makes cross-platform development possible, so the mobile game created with Unity will work both on iOS and Android.
This technology has various pros when it comes to mobile game development, and here are some of them:
- it’s the most popular game engine and supports about 15 platforms; Android and iOS are on the list,
- Unity has impressive visual effects to offer and lots of AAA projects use this technology,
- It allows the rendering of both 3D and 2D objects and has a set of about 12 000+ assets to choose from when you don’t have an opportunity to create them yourself.
Mobile game development costs: the example of the calculation
Let’s take a look at it in a more practical way. One of the latest RexSoft mobile game development projects was Fish UP; a small but quite addictive project.
The gameplay is simple, all you have to do is move your boat around and look for fish.
This game has smooth 2D animations and simple gameplay, so it wasn’t expensive. RexSoft engaged a team of specialists to create this game:
- mobile game developer (Unity)
- mobile game designer
- 2D artist
Their hourly rates are about $28-30 and they’ve spent 160 hours on this game (a month for a full-time worker). So, the overall cost of this mobile game development project was $13 000.
Usually, mobile game development rates are:
|Type of game||Rate|
|for mini-games (e.g. Flappy Bird)||$5 000 - $7 000|
|for small games (e.g. Temple Run)||$15 000 - $30 000|
|for medium games (e.g. Angry Birds)||$60 000 - $120 000|
|for large games (e.g. Clash of Clans)||$150 000+|
|for AAA titles/extra large games (e.g. PUBG Mobile)||$1 - $3M|
So, you want a mobile game but don’t want to spend everything on development? We totally get you.
How can you make mobile game development less expensive?
If you’re looking for a way to make mobile game development more cost-effective, you should take a look at offshore development. Outsourcing or outstaffing from other countries can make a drastic change to the game app development cost. So, let’s take a look at the developer’s rate for game app development in different countries.
Hourly rate of an average developer from the US is approximately $100. This means, that if a team of 4 devs will work on your game app development for 160 hours, it’ll cost you about $64,000.
When someone considers lower rates, they usually pay more attention to the developers from India. For game development, they’ll charge you about $30 per hour. This is much cheaper and the overall cost of the same game app would be around $33,000.
However, there is one more option, you can take a closer look at the Ukrainian development companies. A game app cost they charge is often more budget-friendly. For example, our team only charged the client $13,000 for the similar game app as we’ve stated above.
Ukrainian developers also have other benefits besides game app costs. The time zone is perfect for cooperation with the US since you will receive the results in the morning and will have a whole day to review them.
Ukrainian specialists have higher education since it’s common to have at least a bachelor’s diploma in this country. And most game app development teams work under the US legislation no matter the cost of their services.
How pricing models affect the mobile development cost
Along with other factors that affect mobile development cost, pricing models can also change the overall paycheck you get. So, to ensure that you don’t overrun your budget, let’s take a closer look at the pricing models and figure out how you can make the mobile development cost less.
Time and Material
The time and material pricing model allows your technical partner to estimate the mobile development costs by one certain scope of work. It makes you more flexible since you can switch teams, regulate the number of developers, change the features, or make any other alteration in the product during the mobile game development.
This model is best suited for small or mid-sized mobile games or mobile games that are on the testing stage and need some changes. It enables you to control the budget and makes the development more cost-effective.
A fixed price model means that you already have the budget you’re ready to spend for the creation of a mobile game. This allows you to put up your own cost for the project and your technical partner will adjust the possibilities and works to it.
Fixed-price cooperation is optimal for companies with limited costs so they can manage their budget right from the beginning without going over it.
A dedicated team model enables you to control the hours of work your developers spend on mobile game creation. This way, you also can manage the costs of work and have complete control over it. The payment is hourly for the engagement of certain specialists. You will get your paycheck at the end of the mobile game development process’ milestones.
This model keeps your team motivated in your mobile game success, and also allows you to make the investment cost-effective.
How much does it cost to make a mobile game in different countries?
Specialists in different countries have different hourly rates, so the cost of making a mobile game will also differ from place to place.
The USA is considered the most expensive place with the highest cost per hour of work. Local developers have rates around $150/h. Considering that the making of the mobile game usually takes from 2 to 4 months, it costs a lot.
Western Europe is a little bit more cost-effective. Specialists there will charge you about $80 per hour.
However, mobile games development from Eastern Europe will cost you even lesser. They will charge you around $35-50 per hour.
So, first thing first, if you want an addictive game, you need to work with the right team. At RexSoft we believe that entertainment is one of the most important parts of life, and we know how it is to be glued to the screen.
One difference only; while your user will be hooked on to playing, we’d be glued to creating your mobile game.
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Why game app costs are so high?
Game app cost depends on the complexity of an app. So, it’s obvious that a complicated animated game will be more expensive than a simple mini-game. Game app cost is high since the development engages a lot of specialists but the profits you may gain from this investment are even higher.
What influences the game app costs?
The factors that influence the game app cost are the number of specialists engaged and how long they work on the game app; software’s complexity; game genre; animations; testing.
How to calculate the cost of my game app?
You can base your calculations on these game apps costs: $5,000 for a mini-game like Flappy Bird, $15,000 for a small game like Temple Run, and $60,000 for a medium game like Angry Birds.
How to lower game app costs?
Try to start from a small game and upgrade it with time. You can also try outstaffing and controlling the developers’ working hours. This will help you take a hand at game app costs.
Oleksandr KryvotsiukHEAD OF MARKETING AT REXSOFT