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Hey guys, how's everyone doing? I know this has probably been asked a million times. A friend and I are starting a new game development business and would like to know a few things. We have the logos made and are looking at leasing some office space as well. The website is being worked on now and our design document for the first game is almost complete. Here are the questions: How many people are we going to need? Right now we are starting off with one game but will be starting more projects as the time comes. I myself do not know much about coding or programming or anything like that. I'm more or less just running the show and inputting ideas. My friend knows much more than me but not enough for just us two to do this on our own. Besides programmers what type of people are we going to need right off hand? How much do people at these different positions make on the average? What kind of legality issues are there going to be? Of course we'd like to provide our workers with insurance & benefits, what is the cheapest and best companies to provide that? What are the best computers to develope games on? When the game is complete, how much would it cost to publish our own title? We know we have quite a huge venture ahead of us but we're taking one step at a time. If anyone has any feedback, good/bad let me know. Much advice is welcome. Also, you can get a hold of me at JoeRockEHF@comcast.net. Thanks everyone!

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Hmm. You re starting a game development business but none of you know how many people it will take to do a game and on top of that you're looking to develop multiple titles when the time comes?

Your question 'how much does it cost to create a game' is way too generic. What game? A puzzle game? Doom3? Halo2?

There are basically two levels at which you can develop games: professional level which you can sell in-store just like EA, THQ, Activision, Ubisoft, etc.
The development cost per title for such games is anywhere from 2 million to 50 million US Dollars, the number of people you'll need is anywhere from 10-50 per title for 1-3 years. Average 50,000 USD per head, plus office medical, etc.

Publishing such a title on your own, 2-5 million on top of that (Duplication cost, shelf space, distribution, etc.).

The second type of game: budget-type. That could cost anywhere from nothing (your own time) to maybe 50K. But of course hiring people and office space, etc. for such titles may not be a smart move since you'll make little profit (if any) as is. Getting budget titles in-store is next to impossible as well unless you go through a budget publisher (there are one or two) who's got the connections but of course then you'll not get more than a royalty percentage on sales.


Mark

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Guest Anonymous Poster
For $50k a year you won't get top-notch programmers. I refuse to take a job if the pay is less than $75k a year, it simply is not worth it. $50k a year is a starting salary is most places for programmers, and for senior level, or team leads you'll be talking about the $80k to $100k per year range, plus stock, profit sharing, benefits, and flextime.

DS

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Thanks Mark for the reply. I know it takes numerous people to make a top noch game. I just didn't know if it was possible or really needed to have all positions filled or if some could do multiple duties. As I said, I have not a lot of experience making the games themselves so I don't know if there is a huge difference in positions.

The money to make the game isn't the problem with us right now. We have the money, just needed to know how much the average pay was for the different positions and how many people we could use to get by. If we needed a full roster or not so to speak. You and Mr. Anonymous Poster pretty much covered the pay aspect. Thanks for the info about the publishing as well Mark.

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Not to mention that in order to get the kind of funding you'll need to make a large title you will need not just your run of the mill programmer, but people who have several years of industry experience. No VC will fund a company for that kind of money without people in the company who have already shipped games.

Quote:

What kind of legality issues are there going to be?


And please, until you've answered this question and have all your financing in order do not lease office space. it can easily take months to get your business plan, finances and legal stuff in line, and having an office space during that time would probably just be a waste of money.

-me

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salary.com or the such would likely handle the pay aspect better [not that I disagree with the AP].

Disclaimer: I've never run a company, so have no first hand knowledge of any of the opinions after this. I have toyed with the idea, and have paid attention to many of the comments made here and elsewhere by others who know more than I. As always opinion is opinion and should be taken as such.

First, get your business in order, then worry about producing games.

Consult with a lawyer. Have them make sure everything regarding the actual company's paperwork is done and proper. Have them create formal paperwork you'll need in the future [NDAs, employee contracts, (and later on contracts with publishers and the such)]. Consult with them regarding workplace legal requirements.

Then [or concurrently] setup benefits and HR things [possibly using the help of an HR firm].

Then [or concurrently] setup a basic infrastructure. Office [optional], desks, chairs, computers, internet connection. [possibly using help from said HR firm, or from your venture firm if you've venture cash, or from an IT firm]

Once that's all done, worry about getting people to make games.

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Quote:
Original post by JoeRockEHF
How many people are we going to need?

Only you can know the answer to this as you know what the game is. If you don't know the answer you are unlikely to succeed in your venture unless you go and recruit an experienced producer or similar who can guide you.

Quote:
What kind of legality issues are there going to be?
You need to:
i. Handle standard business legal issues
ii. Handle specific software industry issues.
For the former talk to a standard (cheapo) lawyer about business start-up. For the latter you need an lawyer with experience of IP law and also the game software industry and its particular oddities (more expensive).

Quote:
Of course we'd like to provide our workers with insurance & benefits, what is the cheapest and best companies to provide that?
These two seldom go hand it hand. You get what you pay for.

Quote:
What are the best computers to developer games on?
Any half decent PC will do. A very decent one will do better. The problem is finding someone able to use the PC to develop a great game.

Quote:
When the game is complete, how much would it cost to publish our own title?
You have not made it clear if you are talking about small shareware games or large retail projects. If the former then check out the ASP (http://www.asp-shareware.org/). It costs $100 a year to join but the forums are packed with essential advice on how to self publish over the Internet (shareware). If you want to develop retail game software then don't even think about self publishing. You don't know how to run a company and you don't know how to develop a game - attempting to start a publishing company as well would be suicidal. Build your plan around development and then negotiate a publishing deal with an existing publisher. Self publishing will always be an option in the future once you have a stable development set-up.

Quote:
We know we have quite a huge venture ahead of us but we're taking one step at a time. If anyone has any feedback, good/bad let me know. Much advice is welcome. Also, you can get a hold of me at JoeRockEHF@comcast.net. Thanks everyone!
Read http://www.obscure.co.uk/startup.shtml for an overview of the developer start-up process. If you are going to self fund development you don't need to pitch the publisher so early but some of the issues will still be the same.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I recently looked into how much it would cost to make a video game (a two-year project for PS2). I estimated that it would cost about $2.5M. However, ...

I work at a video game company and I talked to the owner of the company. He said I was way too low -- it costs more like $6M to make a quality PS2 game. Keep in mind that we are located in San Francisco so costs are higher. As a rule of thumb, he estimates that it costs $10k per person per month.

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Before you go ahead with ANYTHING, make your business plan. A Tight and trasparent Business Plan will make a huge difference on the long run. Next step, get a lawyer and sort out all the possible legal issues; from your employee contract to company value statements. Then comes approaching your investor or if you already have one, start research on the technical expertise available around you. Remember, you need experienced Individuals to help you minimize your mistakes and maximize profits. Lure them in and make sure your core team is set up and running. Now for the actual expansion; Pick and choose people from the industry with average experience and keep them happy. After all these steps are taken, start your project :)
These are the steps we have learnt through the years of trials and tribulations, hope you do well. All the best :)

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Before you go ahead with ANYTHING, make your business plan. A Tight and trasparent Business Plan will make a huge difference on the long run. Next step, get a lawyer and sort out all the possible legal issues; from your employee contract to company value statements. Then comes approaching your investor or if you already have one, start research on the technical expertise available around you. Remember, you need experienced Individuals to help you minimize your mistakes and maximize profits. Lure them in and make sure your core team is set up and running. Now for the actual expansion; Pick and choose people from the industry with average experience and keep them happy. After all these steps are taken, start your project :)
These are the steps we have learnt through the years of trials and tribulations, hope you do well. All the best :)

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Hmmm. You have gotten alot of great advice. I think my only pointer to add, you really need to look into working with a business development company or professional. Someone like Dan (aka: Obscure) or other companies like Orchid Media, LLC. People who have been in the industry and can cover and/or handle the business issues.

With 0 years of development experience, I would highly recommend lining up a business development partner who has experience in the industry. You will find them to be an invaluable supply of answers.

Regards,
Micah Hymer
Reverie Entertainment, LLC
www.reverieentertainment.com

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