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jungolaya

cost of running and maintaining a mmo

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I know there are a ton of variables, but given the hypothetical situation, what would be the costs of creating and maintaining such a mmo? I'm working on a business plan for a loan app and I have a rough idea of what things cost but wanted to get a general consensus. -develop a high-end mmo using a licensed engine (assuming 1 yr dev) -sustain the game world for 1000 initial users with 500 monthly adds I have a good idea on the required headcount and salaries but not so sure on the tech and maintenance costs.

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Those costs are largely unpredictable and no bank in the world is going to give you a loan based on a fragile estimation. They don't like words such as 'hypothetical', you will need to specifiy exactly what the costs are and how you are going to earn it back. In fact, banks are totally not into the risky business of game development at all, except maybe if you have proven to be worth their money. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

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:DISCLAIMER: This is a really, really rough estimate of costs I haven't researched, the base idea is there, but obviously if you don't have the resources to figure this out you won't have the resources to carry it through.

Cost of production = (head_count * (average_cost_of_tools)) + (head_count * (average_salery) * production_years) + (cost_of_office_space * production_years * 12) + cost_of_non_specific_tools + general_office_products + cost_of_living



And that's how much it costs to make hosting depends on the plan you get, but it's basically the cost of the computers and the cost of hiring people to maintain it and the cost of the hosting plan.

Let's say you have artists who need 3d Studio Max and Photoshop (we'll say it costs $1500 for both as you buy in bulk... this is a random number), programmers who need Visual Studio Enterprise, and visual X assist, and you need to purchase perforce to keep your shit together, everyone needs microsoft office and windows, and producers need a few extra tools. Figure the cost for each of these jobs per person (as you need to buy liscences of the software) and then perform this (head_count * (cost_of_workstation)) for each job.

Let's simplify and say that everyone's salery and workstation and tools all average out to the same (not ever true in large projects.) So, how about $70,000 salery and a $6,000 workstation per person (factor in all software and tools). Now you have to also pay for your office space, I don't really know the numbers, but how about we say you rent and it costs $2,000 monthly for space and utilities, that's $24,000 a year and I'm probably way off, it's a number for a number's sake.

Then you have to remember to eat and sleep, so you factor in your cost of living which should be around $17,000 per year.

Let's assume those fake numbers and a 40 man team.

$3,081,000 so a very modest three million for one year of development, and I've given you a very lowball estimate.

That's 61,620 copies you have to sell to make up for costs. Then you have to price your monthly to cover hosting and a bit to keep revenu flowing.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You're assumptions are ridiculous:
"-develop a high-end mmo using a licensed engine (assuming 1 yr dev)"

There is nothing more to discuss. As a warning, if you are indeed serious about presenting a business plan, you will get laughed out the door at any serious money lending institution. I don't care if its a bank, VC, or angel investor. Instead of scheming for ways to get others to do the hard work for you try the novel idea of writing your own game.

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Yes, let me also say that a one year development cycle is not something that can be bought easily. You'll need about 4x as many people to get the same thing that would take two years done in one. That's like saying "I want a house built in a month" well, it can be done, but you know you need a lot more workers that are paid better.

Or you need to be Amish, but the Amish thing doesn't work for programming (they are incompatible... If for some reason they weren't, then sure, it could be done.) It's anticipated that recruiting the Amish in programming will be the next major breakthrough in the development cycle, but so far none of our most talented managment teams or scientific institutions have managed to do so.

There are three things you need to know about the Amish:
1. Amish are mammals
2. Amish work totally hard all the time
3. At any time an Amish family could totally flip out and build a house in a day.

You'll have a 100% better chance of getting a grant if you mention that you have recruited an Amish family to replace your programmers. Their work ethics are legendary.

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I appreciate everyone's frank words of encouragement. But let's try to stick to the topic. My mistake for not asking a more targeted question.

What's the cost of maintaining the backend technology infrastructure (servers and...)? Again, the reason I highlighted hypothetical is for you, the GameDev audience, to give me an idea on technology costs, assuming the grossly simplified situation (ie a highend server has the capacity to maintain such and such loads and will cost you this much, etc).

I am a business manager at an investment bank. I'm familiar with how banks and vcs work and i know a thing or two about writing business plans. So don't worry about how stupid I'm gonna sound when I start looking for money. Just play along and spread your knowledge...please. This is just research.

[Edited by - jungolaya on February 28, 2006 1:04:19 PM]

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Maybe you should work at how the game is going to be built rather than how the game is going to be funded. If you have somthing that's playable, you will get a much more serious response.

Good luck with your venture!

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Thanks Simian. If I had the know-how to write all the code on my own, you wouldn't see me in here...I'd be busy writing my code. I'm multitasking at the moment, working on my design plan, business plan, getting a better understanding of the gaming industry, looking for developers/individuals...basically getting all my ducks in a row to figure out what options I have. I personally cannot do the most important part of this venture, which is the actual coding. But I plan to make sure that everything else is taken care of for when that person or team comes aboard.

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Quote:
Original post by jungolaya
Thanks Simian. If I had the know-how to write all the code on my own, you wouldn't see me in here...

That wasn't what he meant. He meant that, to make an MMO you need to understand the process (or have someone on board who does) and that, if you had this knowledge you would be able to properly design you game and from that generate accurate figures for your business plan.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"I am a business manager at an investment bank."

Something doesn't add up here. Your last post sounds like you are trying to startup a game company and yet you claim to be a business manager at a investment bank. I have a friend who works in that field and he has NO time to be thinking about games let alone making one. If by the 1/googol probability that you are indeed a business manager at an investment bank, I would hope you would have better tools for doing cost analysis then a pseudo-anonymous internet forum.

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