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Mobile Game Development Cost: Explaining All The Details

May 25, 2020

If you’re looking for a specific sum indicating how much your game project will cost, you won’t find it in this article. Or any article for that matter. Every mobile game development project is unique and has various factors influencing cost, so there is no universal formula or algorithm you can use to get an accurate estimate.

However, the good news is that we can offer you a general price range for projects of different scope and list some things that have an impact on the total sum. For a more accurate total, we suggest asking the developer/studio of your choice for an estimate.

Test Prototype / Playable Demo Development Cost

Test prototypes and playable demos game development
$3 000+

Test prototypes and demos are usually made as a stepping stone towards larger projects, or simply a way to prove a concept. As such, they do not require any complex functionality or beautiful artwork. Such releases require minimal investment of time and resources, so they are the most affordable to make.

At Game-Ace, the demo creation process goes like this: at the beginning, a client approaches us with an idea for a game. Our game designer reviews the idea and its various implementation options, and also checks the market for the existence of similar or matching concepts and titles made by competitors. The findings are presented to the client for further review.

Once this is done, the FDP (First Day Prototype) phase begins. We determine the minimal time it will take to check the viability of the proposed mechanics and prepare 2D concept art to demonstrate a visual style. Once the concept and mechanics are approved, we move on to the TP (Test Prototype) phase.

The Test Prototype phase involves the creation of playable builds to be advertised on mobile marketplaces and/or several short video clips to gauge interest towards the game on the market. This is precisely what constitutes our demo.

Hyper-Casual Game Development Cost

Hyper-casual game development cost
$10 000 – $35 000

Hyper-casual games are often called the easiest ones to play. This is because most hyper-casual titles can be played simply by tapping the screen at the right time or making other effortless movements. Each round of gameplay is very quick, and it takes just a few seconds to start over.

Though these categories offer more content and variation to the player than MVP/Experimental, the mechanics are very repetitive, so less content is needed and the development price is still quite low.

Casual Game Development Cost

Casual games development cost
$20 000 – $150 000

Casual games are those targeted at a particular type of player. This player does not play regularly or for very long stretches of time – they may just need something to entertain themselves with on the way to work or to take their mind off tasks during a break. As a rule, casual games are very easy to play and do not require a significant investment of time. They have a few straightforward controls and appeal to adults and children alike.

Casual titles tend to take up more memory, have more content, and implement more advanced features than hyper-casual ones, so their costs also tend to be greater.

Midcore Game Development Cost

Midcore game development cost
$150 000 – $500 000

In the eyes of developers, midcore is the first “serious” category of games. These titles are played by people who have a genuine love for gaming and are willing to dedicate time to this activity. It might not be hours, but it certainly won’t be minute-long rounds like with hyper-casual titles. Besides time, midcore titles require a fair amount of thought and strategy. You can expect story arcs and advanced features, such as networking and hidden mysteries.

These types of projects have substantial costs attached, but are still quite accessible and appealing to small and mid-sized studios.

Hardcore Game Development Cost

Hardcore game development cost
$500 000 – $1 000 000

The hardcore category applies to titles that force users to devote significant time and effort to their playthroughs. In the process, they develop specific skills, apply strategic thinking, and make big choices that affect the narrative. These titles keep people playing for hours at a time just to complete a level and quest, and this achievement is one of many along the way. It is not uncommon for multiplayer to be implemented, as well as additional play modes that add to the initial experience.

Due to the extensive and advanced features added to hardcore titles, along with the vast amount of content available, they are very expensive to make, and usually require the backing of major investors and distributors.

AAA Game Development Cost

AAA game development cost
$1 000 000+

An AAA game is the gaming equivalent of a blockbuster film. With tremendous sums of money poured into AAA projects, they provide the whole shebang: the best graphics, days’ worth of unique content, a complex and well-planned storyline, character customization options, and different forms of online and multiplayer gameplay. Thus, this is not so much an indicator of genre as one of budget. These releases correspond to the biggest hits (and misses) of the gaming world in the past several decades.

Not only do AAA titles require a large and capable development studio, but also tend to be accompanied by a costly marketing campaign and widespread distribution by one of the titans of the entertainment world.

It is also worth mentioning that these blockbuster games are often released simultaneously on multiple platforms, so a mobile version may be a port of a PC game and vice versa. In these cases, the cost may be bundled into the total budget of cross-platform development.

Where Can You Get an Estimate?

Archy AR game

You may find certain tools and calculators on the web claiming that they will calculate the cost of your project, but they are an unreliable choice. The smartest course of action is to provide a thorough analysis based on the project plans. You may entrust this task to an in-house team of business analysts, but it will be easier in most cases to ask a game studio to do it for you. As long as you are serious about possible cooperation with a development partner, any interested studio will not hesitate to draw up some estimates for you.

Knight - Stack Jump

Game-Ace is one of the many studios that perform such appraisals, and we would be more than happy to take a look at your project. We offer decades of experience in game development and design, which have has allowed us to get a very good understanding of game costs and the finest development practices that reduce costs while maintaining a high level of quality. It is a point of pride that we hold the largest team of Unity developers in Eastern Europe, and our experts have worked on projects of various scopes, from MVP to Hardcore. For example, our most recent release is an aforementioned hyper-casual title called Knight- Stack Jump, which is available for free both on Android and iOS.

It all starts with a message. Contact us today and we can start discussing how to deliver the project of your dreams.

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