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CodeCorner

Game Development Budget

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Hello, For research I am looking for some data on professional game development budgets. Some data on the web talks about what the budgets were around 2000/2001, but budgets have probably changed a lot since then. Basically I am looking for what the typical cost would be to develop a AAA title (not the few titles costing 20M+ like Doom3 or HL2), but mainstream titles like Psi-Ops, Dead-To-Rights, Ninja Gaiden, etc. etc. for a PC and console project. You know, the typical title that a mainstream publisher would fund (like Ubisoft, Eidos, Activision, etc.) at one of the mainstream development studios. Am I correct in assuming that the average team size these days would be about 25-35 people for 18 months? If anyone knows or has been involved in such projects over the last year or two, could you shed some light on the development budget for such games? I realize budgets vary, but as an average for 2004/5 am I looking at 2M? 5M? 10M? Cheers and thanks for your thoughts, Mike

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Check the post moremts in Game Developmer Magazine, they often list project length, team size and budget.

Development budgets will usually be in the $2M to $4M.

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Anon,

Thanks - I don't have GDM though. I checked GamaSutra.com postmortems (are these the same?) but could find only those listing budgets from projects around 2000/1. I assume that budgets have gone up a lot since.

But 2-4M sounds about right. This is for a PC + console title, right, not just PC-only.

Thanks.

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>>but that 25-35 sounds high<<

Hmm. For a title including a PC and an Xbox and/or PS2 version I'd assume you'd need at least 6-9 programmers alone. Then modelers, texture artists, level designers, tool programmers, etc. But I am mainly looking for budget estimates though, so exact team sizes aren't that important.

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
I've no actual experience to base this on, but that 25-35 sounds high. There might be 25-35 people working on a game, but not for the entire duration [~18 months] of development.


For a AAA title that sounds low actually. For example Age of Empires had over 50 artists working at once at some points during its development. And that was back around 1996. And don't forget all the other jobs. Real commercial game aren't just a few programmers, artists, level designers and a sound guy sitting in their garage making a game. They're large scale efforts with potentially multiple levels of management, marketing, business relations, accounting and purchasing, legal and what have you. And that's for a game that doesn't include any voice overs, or worse, live action FMV or motion capture. Then you've got a potential 10-100 man team plus the talent just to do that. Pop to the last page of any AAA game (or even just commercial game) and see how long the list of credits is. Except for special thanks it is likely that every single one of those people had to be paid.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by CodeCorner

Basically I am looking for what the typical cost would be to develop a AAA title (not the few titles costing 20M+ like Doom3 or HL2), but mainstream titles like Psi-Ops, Dead-To-Rights, Ninja Gaiden, etc. etc.


Ninja Gaiden and Dead to Rights both have insane development budgets, far far above what something like Doom3 cost to make. Japanese developers tend to ensure that things get done right, even if that means putting a lot more bodies on a problem than a western developer would.

25-35 staff's about right; you'd be looking at 5-7 tech, 10+ art, 3-4 design, plus QA/Sound/Music and management/process related. Just payroll for something like that'll easily hit 2mil, with another 50% overheads (401k, medical, office, insurance, etc).

Odin

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The figures being quoted are about right. I had a discussion with a publisher today (it was the EGN show in London this week) and the figure for a PS2 only title was $4 million.

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