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quetzalcoati

Average revenue/dev time for mobile game?

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Hi,

 

I have an idea for a 2D strategy game. It seems fun to give game development a shot, but the costs and time investment seem a little daunting. I really have no clue what to expect.

 

How much would you say does the average game make, and over what period of time, assuming there is a free version and a $1 one without ads, and that it's released for iOS and android? I know there's no one right answer, a rough estimate is all I'm looking for.

 

Also, how many hours of development time should I expect (excluding art/audio assets)?

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Traditionally there are gatekeepers. The gatekeepers have stemmed from a need of funding and capital investment.

Software doesn't have those barriers to manufacture and produce and store in warehouses and ship to stores. Consequently the app stores have huge numbers of new games and apps launched daily. The various app stores grow by about 1000 new apps every day. Competing in a world where you have so many new competitors daily, in addition to millions of older competitors, is difficult.

Even a marketing budget of a few thousand dollars is not enough to draw eyeballs for more than the shortest time frame.

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sorry, maybe I should've posted this in 'Breaking into the Industry'


No. That forum is about JOBS in the industry. That is very far from what you're asking. You asked about development time (project management) and expected return (business).

Time to complete and release depends on experience and scope and platform. You said mobile 2D strategy game. Since you have to ask, it's unlikely you can make it in as little as 3 months. If you get a highly experienced team and an elegantly sparse design, it can be done in about 3 months.
 

barring spending tens/hundreds of thousands on marketing, is there anything I can do?


Sure. You have to be creative and find a novel solution. (And here you thought creativity was limited to the development side!) Do a lot of reading on Gamasutra and Kotaku and GamesIndustry.biz, and see what some others have done.
 

Also, how many hours of development time should I expect (excluding art/audio assets)?


Just saw that part upon rereading. A minimal team size is probably three. Three people times three months is nine, and a man-month costs at least US$10,000 in the US. So $90,000 (I know you didn't ask, but that's the natural followup question). It's possible to do it for less, but likely it'll cost more. Edited by Tom Sloper

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Three people times three months is nine, and a man-month costs at least US$10,000 in the US. So $90,000

A man month of a real professional's time at a real startup costs $10k.
At a no-money/no-office indie startup, with inexperienced staff (who have no serious financial commitments, and an underdeveloped sense of self-worth combined with youthful enthusiasm and misplaced passion), a man-month might be closer to minimum wage (~$1250) with no additional overheads.

 

I know this is an outlier as I've seen hundreds of these projects completely fail... but I know of one studio who managed to get by on ~$40k/mo, which went to half a dozen directors' salaries plus office overheads, while paying a dozen other staff in nothing but promises of profit share upon release! I mention this not because it's a sensible plan that should actually work... but just that I do know of one case where it magically, somehow did work...

I see... so barring spending tens/hundreds of thousands on marketing, is there anything I can do?

Slowly, over many years, build a reputation of consistently making great games so that Apple/Google features your game on the front of the App Store.

Or make games as cheaply as possible so failing to repay costs is less of a risk, and churn out an endless stream of crap games, hoping that one will be a viral hit.

Or do it as an expensive hobby instead of a badly run business.

How much would you say does the average game make...

As above, the typical (median) game probably makes nothing. There's many, many millions of games out there, and most probably haven't even been downloaded. A handful of mega hits make hundreds of millions of dollars though, so while the median game probably makes $0, a meaningless average of a hundred million bad games + a hundred mega hits = (100000000 * $0 + 100 * $100000000)/100000100  = the average game makes $99.99 laugh.png That just goes to show that averages aren't very useful though!

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I see... so barring spending tens/hundreds of thousands on marketing, is there anything I can do?

 

Cut your spending to the minimum (which ideally is 0$), work smart AND hard (thus make sure you pick a game of the right scope, and work with laser like focus), and, as Tom said, come up with new and creative things.

 

Don't be the 10000st flappy bird clone. Be inventive and you will already stand out to some degree.

 

Don't expect your game to a success and hope for 100'000$ in profit. Calculate in that about 1 in 10 of your games will ever make a profit, and make sure you plan accordingly.

 

 

Above all, don't quit your day job for game dev yet. Or if you don't have a job yet, get one first. Treat game dev and your Indie "career" as a hobby until you either start making money with it, or at least see "a finish line" in the foreseeable future ("we go live in 6 months, and this game will be a big hit"). In the second case, make sure you are covered for the failure that might be waiting for you at the finish line.

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