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Well I've been drawing up an MMOG for months. It was always a dream of mine to make one and I have recently been given the opportunity to follow said dream. My Grandfather owns an enterprise, that spans 3 countries. All of which is run out of California, which is where I have been working while I finish my computer science degree. Recently while he was in Japan checking in at one of his sites, he spoke to the guy he hired to run the facilities, who complained about his kids being into all these micro-transaction games. When he came back he started asking me all these questions. The conversation evolved into a breeding ground to make an mmorpg. Of course I have to make a working demo of the game to show him before He will provide the funding for it, but he asked me about how much it would cost to produce the game, and hire a team to finish it. I threw out an arbitrary figure of 2 million as I really never thought about it. So I'm wondering just how much a project like this would cost? To make an amazing game, up to current industry standards. Currently I'm using shareware and cheap programs to make the demo. But building the engine, and how much a good team would cost is beyond me. Any thoughts?

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It obviously depends on the game. You could get a simple MMORPG out in just a couple of man-weeks, or you could spend several man-years building a complex one. The idea behind evaluating funding is to take every feature in the game and evaluate how long it would take, in man-hours, to create it (as man-hours are proportional to wage money). Most elementary features take about half a day (four hours) to implement, while larger features will take between one and two weeks (40 to 80 hours).

Then, you can factor in the costs of any software licenses, plus the cost of hosting.

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If you are doing something which is not graphically ground-breaking, perhaps $500K is a realistic figure. For instance if you used Flash instead of trying to make a super-3D game. You could check out Club Penguin as an example of this type of game. It has millions of users even though it's not functionally complex - it is certainly of "industry standard".

This figure would include everything to get the game written, and maybe a single server up and running... once you get thousands of people wanting to play at the same time your infrastructure costs will rise a lot but by then, you should be generating income.

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Original post by shinobi801

So I'm wondering just how much a project like this would cost? To make an amazing game, up to current industry standards. Currently I'm using shareware and cheap programs to make the demo. But building the engine, and how much a good team would cost is beyond me.

Ah, WoW... $100 mil upfront, 5+ years, 200+ people, 80% failure rate.

Or what does "industry standards mean"? Chinese, Korean and Japanese markets are all completely different, western markets are something else completely again, and then there's a sea of huge indie projects, some having millions of users.

Well I've been drawing up an MMOG for months.

What is your game about? Why would I want to play it? What is unique about it? I don't care about code - get me excited.... Then the funding will come.

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To make an amazing game, up to current industry standards

The last AAA project I worked on had a budget of about $20 Million, and they didn't even have a multiplayer component. You don't have to make the next WoW to break the bank though, as someone mentioned earlier. Take a look at something like Club Penguin.

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Think to that: The mother company of Bethesda Software (ZeniMax) recently created a studio (ZeniMax Online) to make a MMO (or maybe 2). They decided to put $500,000,000 in the new company to give it enough budget to create a killer game.

Building a MMO that will compete with the current masters of the category is not going to be cheap. But there are alternatives. Not only the costs are high, but you also have to consider recurring costs after that (Blizzard have nearly 2000 people that works to support the game; also, don't forget the infrastructure).

First, you don't have to make a MMO. You can create online games that generates money for far less than that (see Battlefield Heroes, which will go on open beta in a few month, or NCSoft's Dungeon Runner; both are free to download, free to play and make money from microtransactions; DR is a dungeon crawling game, while BH is a FPS).

Second, you can even downscale to build web-based games. Some of the are very profitable, and they cost far less than any other kind of games. They are quite quick to develop, so you can build a game ecosystem (2 to 4 games per year) and eventually a platform. These games are typically free to play, but micro-transactions enhance the player experience by allowing him to play more and to do more in the game (for example, normal players will be able to move their avatar roughly once a day, while paying players will buy credits that allow them to more their player more often). You just have to be careful about the price: there is no reason why playing for 30*20 minutes would cost more than buying a box at the local game reseller.

Third, the MMO market is quite big, and you can target a smaller audience with very specific needs (see Even Online? that's a profitable game, and there are only a few hundred thousands of paying customers). Competition with WoW or AoC will be brutal, but you can decide to go another route - because not all games have to take place in a medieval-fantasy setting.

Fourth, you can try to invent your own genre. MMOs tend to focus on RPG, but that's hardly the only game genre out there. Strategy, shooters, and many other genres can be of interest too.


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