Can we answer the conceptual question of the cost of developing a mobile game? Yes, we can. The answers to this question might be of interest not just to the curious, but also to game developers who want to break into the rapidly growing potential of the promising gaming market.
It’s a given that the share of mobile games in the gaming industry is more than 50%, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down, especially with the convenience of smartphones as a source of entertainment.
So, let’s dive in and get into the nuances of cost estimates when developing a mobile game.
Why People Are Considering Investing in Mobile Games
The mobile gaming industry has many advantages that make it an attractive investment opportunity. As the market continues to grow and evolve, it’s likely that we’ll see more investment in this exciting industry. Here are some reasons why mobile gaming is a popular investment choice:
- Growing Market: Mobile gaming is a rapidly growing market, with more and more people playing games on their smartphones and tablets. This trend is expected to continue, making it an attractive investment opportunity.
- High Revenue Potential: Mobile gaming generates a significant amount of revenue through in-app purchases, ads, and subscription-based models. Some mobile games have even surpassed the revenue of blockbuster movies.
- Low Barriers to Entry: The cost of developing a mobile game is relatively low compared to other forms of entertainment, such as movies or console games. This makes it easier for smaller developers to enter the market and create successful games.
- Wide Audience: Mobile gaming has a wide audience that includes people of all ages and backgrounds. This makes it easier for developers to create games that appeal to a broad range of people.
- Technological Advancements: Advances in technology have made it possible to create high-quality, immersive mobile games that rival console games in terms of graphics and gameplay.
Understanding the Cost of Stages of Mobile Game Development
The cost of mobile game development can be broken down into several stages:
- Concept and Design: this is where the brainstorming and ideas formation come up for the game, as well as designing the game’s characters, levels, storyboarding, character design, UI/UX design, and other related tasks. The cost of this stage can range from $1,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the game design and the number of designers involved.
- Development: This stage involves programming the game mechanics, creating the game’s art assets, and integrating sound and music into the game. The cost of this stage can range from $5,000 to $300,000 or more, depending on the size and experience of the development team and the complexity of the game.
- Testing and Quality Assurance: this is where you ensure the game is free of bugs and glitches, as well as ensuring the game meets industry standards. The cost of this stage can range from $2,000 to $30,000 or more, depending on the size and experience of the testing team.
- Launch and Marketing: This stage involves promoting the game to potential users through advertising, social media, and other marketing channels. The cost of this stage can range from $1,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the size and scope of the marketing campaign.
For the fourth stage, this is where costs can be discouraging for game developers. Because with most of the other stages where time can be the main resource with minimal costs, manually marketing yourself for discoverability often feels discouraging as game developers aren’t working with dedicated funds for marketing compared to larger game companies.
This is where automated ASO can come in handy, that doesn’t necessarily have to hurt one’s pocket.
Cost of Mobile Game App Development Per Genre
The huge range of game genres can make it difficult to choose, so be sure to focus on what works best for your time, passion, and resources. Slab covers this topic in their Youtube video that you can check out here!
Once you’ve focused on the type of game you want to develop, here are some typical cost estimates for developing different types of mobile game genres:
- Casual Games: Casual games are usually simple, addictive, and easy-to-learn games that require minimal effort to play. These games are usually developed using basic graphics and game mechanics, and can cost between $10,000 and $50,000 to develop.
- Puzzle Games: Puzzle games are games that involve solving various puzzles and challenges to progress through the game. These games can range from simple to complex, and the cost of development can range from $20,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the puzzles and the graphics.
- Action Games: Action games are fast-paced games that involve combat or other types of physical challenges. These games require advanced graphics, sound effects, and game mechanics, and can cost between $50,000 and $200,000 or more to develop.
- RPG (Role-Playing Games): RPGs are games where the player takes on the role of a character and explores a world, completing quests, and building skills. RPGs require advanced graphics, sound, and storytelling, and can cost between $100,000 and $500,000 or more to develop.
- Sports Games: Sports games simulate various sports such as football, basketball, or racing. These games require advanced graphics and game mechanics, as well as licenses from sports organizations, and can cost between $50,000 and $200,000 or more to develop.
- Multiplayer Games: Multiplayer games are games that allow players to compete against each other online. These games require advanced networking and server capabilities and can cost between $100,000 and $500,000 or more to develop.
It’s important to note that these are rough estimates and the actual cost of developing a mobile game can vary widely depending on the specific requirements of the project, and that 2D games can cost less than 3D games due to less time to create and the involvement of fewer specialists and technologies.
Factors that Influence Overall Cost of Mobile Game Development
Factors that can influence the overall cost of mobile game development include:
- Game Complexity: Games with more complex mechanics and graphics will generally cost more to develop.
- Team Size and Location: The larger the team and the higher the cost of living in their location, the more expensive the development costs will be.
- Platform: Developing a game for iOS, Android, or both can impact the overall cost of development.
- Localization: If a game needs to be translated into multiple languages, this can significantly increase the development costs.*
*The caveat is considering automated ASO that offers AI-powered solutions for localization that are more affordable than manual ASO provided by marketing agencies. Consider slab for your affordable mobile game app localization needs!
When developing a game, mobile game developers should consider the following factors:
- Target Audience: Understanding the target audience is critical in developing a successful game. Developers should consider the age, gender, interests, and gaming habits of their target audience.
- Game Mechanics: The game mechanics should be engaging, easy to learn, and challenging enough to keep players coming back.
- Art Style: The art style should be visually appealing and consistent with the game’s theme and target audience.
- Monetization: Developers should consider the various monetization models available, such as in-app purchases, ads, or subscription-based models.
Mobile game development is a complex process, and the cost of mobile game development can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the game, the platform it’s being developed for, and the location and experience of the development team. Understanding the costs involved in mobile game development is essential for developers and investors who want to succeed in this rapidly growing industry.