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How much does it take to make and maintain a game?


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#1 Wu Zi Hao

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:15 PM

How much does it take to make and maintain a mmorpg?

assuming it uses up to date technology and including employees and advertisement

if possible can the categories be split apart

srry if this is in wrong place this is what i thought was closest

thanks

also the search function was failing so if you have a link that answers my question that would be sufficient

#2 Clobimon

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:40 PM

a buck fitty  ;)

That seems like a difficult question to answer.  Maybe somebody can give a good reply.  At one time I read a number from a company for minimum subs that they needed to maintain.  And, of course, that didn't include development costs.  It was something like 100,000.  I can't believe that game has 100k subs right now though and it's still live.  I have no idea for how long though.  

I would guess that it all really depends on the game; the company - staff numbers and number of games pulling in revenue, the cost of development, the 'size' of the game to include time required for maintenance and updating.  I honestly don't think anyone outside of each of the company top dog offices could give you a monetary figure.  At that point you would probably have to take all those numbers, find the game 'level' you're thinking of and use that one... or take an average.

:)

#3 Winterclaw

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 10:42 PM

20-30 million minimum to make depending on what you do.  Probably 10 million or so a year to maintain.
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#4 athariel

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 09:54 AM

Winterclaw said:

20-30 million minimum to make depending on what you do.  Probably 10 million or so a year to maintain.
Tens of millions of dollars easily. Exact value depends on the game.

#5 sandor

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 10:00 AM

Well i know for sure it gonna cost a lot of coffee.

#6 Lord Bazaah

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 01:29 PM

To make probably 30+ million, SC2 cost more then 100 million, so yeah. And upkeep is determined by how many people you have, but generally 10+ million/year.

#7 TGgold

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 02:26 PM

Unless you're Cryptic Studios

they can release three MMOs in a year by reusing the "Crytpic Engine"

oh wait, all their games release unfinished and only have 8 people or so on the teams to maintain them....

bad example. This type of business aspect must be why Atari fell by the wayside >_>

#8 Arghore

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:13 PM

Well it'll be hard to give it a specific number, and allot will depend on what you can buy and what you have to make yourself, and what the annual paycheck is for one person (which will also depend a bit on quality of said person), but one could make an estimate that would give you atleast some more insight into the cost structure by breaking down a game ...

Development
1. Hard & Software, every employee will need a computer and the software needed to develope the game; Maya, Photoshop, Programming Language Software..

2. Creative Process prior to the game, game concept, concept art, lore if applicable; this will largely take up time...

3. Grafix and Game Engine, this is the essential part of the game, it translates every imput a user gives into actions in the game. And makes it look 'good' ... in some cases you will be able to buy or licence a certain engine, given ofcourse your game concept will fit the engine (can you make say a dynamic event with the programming of the engine)..

4. Server Programming, i take it you will want to run the game over the internet, so, all the game clients running the GFX and Game engine need to be connected to a server, the serverSOFTWARE needs to interpret all the input from all clients and update the game clientside occording to all the changes; if you buy an engine this might allready be included, if not, you will have to write it...

5. Assets, characters & Items; every tree or plant, every building or creature, every character and ingame item needs to made, usually done in Maya.

6. Textures, once you create an 'Asset' it needs to look good too, hence everything needs to have a texture (picture that goes over the Asset Model), done in say Photoshop.

7. World building, with the GFX engine and the Assets & Textures you can now start to make the game world, the plains and the mountains, the villages and cities; its basically plotting all the assets you created around the world.

8. 'Quest' building, with the Game Engine ready, your world done and with your characters created you can probably, walk around your created world with your characters, but there be 'sh*t' to do ... so now comes the time to add the true 'game' to the world and apply the lore ... the world needs to be plotted with creature spawnpoints, NPC's, quest givers, triggers, chests, you name it, anything you wanted to implement from the start + everything you came up with during this whole process ...

9. Feature Implementation; depending on the features this might be included in the game engine (mostlikely is) but you need not forget that it needs to be made. NPC merchants, Auction houses, Crafting Systems, Vendors of all sorts.

10. User Interface; You got your GFX engine, your Game engine, the Server 'Engine', you buid your Assets and the World, and filled the world with Quests, lore and features. But how do you let the player use all of this, some of these things come up while making it (vender screens, ah screens, quest interaction etc.) but it all still needs to be integrated into ONE user interface that is somewhat easy and intuitive to use ...

11. Alfa & Beta testing, Tweaking & Fixing; this will largely take up time, but where humans work mistakes will be made, so you will still need all hands on deck to take care of any bugs and/or tweaks based on feedback...

12. Marketing, Production & Distribution; You will atleast need a website and perhaps you can offer a pay to download; otherwise you need a place to write your CD's, make boxes and cover, and distrubute this to all vendor points, you might want to attend shows and what not...


Maintenance (operating costs)
0. Office/Server building rent.
1. Server hardware, Power, Bandwidth
2. Server Technician for database maintenance
3. Customer Service
4. Updates & Fixes


Other Goldsinks
0. Company overhead personel
1. Interest on Loans
2. Power
3. Taxes of all sorts
4. Coffee
5. Things i forgot


So, based upon this whole list the determaining factor is: gamesize * time * personel, the more people the less time it will take, gamesize is a factor here too. With an estimate developement time of say 4y and say a minimum studio size of 25 people, which get paid an estimate of 45k a year, you would end up with 4 * 25 * 45k = 4.500.000, taking this is net. idd need to multiply this by 2 to include taxes, social benefits etc. so 9.000.000, add to this all the non personell cost, say 25% of personel costs: 1.25 * 9.000.000 = 11.250.000 dollar for totall developement. *edit* ofcourse everything is also laiden with taxes and i mostlikely forgot allot of additional costs, so ill factor in 35% as an estimate of things that i forgot extra stuff and what not: 11.250.000*1.35 = 15.187.500. Devide this by 4 again and you end up with 3.769.500,- or so, running costs after that. Give or take a million in developement and 250k in running costs ... *edit*

The bigger the game, the more people you need, or the longer it will take to develope it ... though i think this is a good base number ...

Edited by Arghore, 21 July 2010 - 07:24 PM.


#9 Rhododendron

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:38 PM

The poster above me is Arghore.

#10 Winterclaw

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 06:18 PM

Arghore, on average you'll be paying about 10k or so per employee per month.  That's the best rule of thumb I've heard for estimating all of your costs.
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#11 Arghore

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 06:25 PM

Although that sounds like allot, and i think it is a bit to much, allot will depend on the net pay, someone earning 2k net a months will cost about 4k (including taxes, social benefits, retirement pay, etc); i just ask an expert on the net to bruto rule of thumb, its the net pay * 2 so in your exampe of 10k this person makes 5k net a month, or about 60k a year. I went with 45k as just a medium, some will earn less (customerservice employee) some will make more, marketing manager/programer ... I did though forget to take this into account and maybe i should have included 35% taxes to my end figure to better reflect reality ... ill edit it ...

Edited by Arghore, 21 July 2010 - 06:56 PM.


#12 Feathermoore

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 07:01 PM

You also counted taxes twice in there unless I read your math wrong.

#13 Arghore

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 07:23 PM

Sigh, its a friggin estimate :P ... but yeah technically i counted the taxes 2x over the pay, but i didnt take any taxes over the 25% overhead costs, nor did i list any other costs that i mostlikely forgot, so its a savety factor which i called taxes, if you want ill change it into 'savety factor of all the things i didnt take into account' ... ;P ... heck i wont wait, ill just change it ... :P

#14 pinoyplaya4life

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 01:15 AM

Hehe.. If I were to create a game, I would make a game with the combination of the Silkroad Online + Runescape + WoW + Guild Wars

I will use Silkroad Online's Hunter and Thief System as an addition to PVP
Runescape's variety of skills
Guild Wars graphics (probably an up to date one)
WoW's faction system and gameplay

Having Runescape's variety of skills such as woodcutting, mining and its leveling system can be used to keep players from getting bored. I loved Runescape, but if it only had better graphics and WASD control. I also would add into it the ability to do addons like WoW where people can customize their UI based on what they want. Putting Guild War's graphics system and storyline and Silkroad's hunter and thief system/faction

#15 Arghore

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 01:20 PM

Points @ Feathermoore, see, there is where i forgot allot of money... to cover all sorts of lawsuits for IP infringements ;) :P

#16 Fario

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:15 PM

athariel said:

Tens of millions of dollars easily. Exact value depends on the game.

No way is it even half as much as your implying. Sure thats right for WoW since that game has 11.5 million players and brings in what 100 million a month but for the vast majority of games it's a heck lot lower than that.

Only 1 or 2 dollars from an average subscription goes towards actually maintaining the game customer service, server maintence etc. The vast majority goes towards actually developing the game which is by far the most expensive part of producing an mmo and where the majority of the money from the subs goes towards paying off.

#17 HawkofStorms

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:22 PM

Fario said:

No way is it even half as much as your implying. Sure thats right for WoW since that game has 11.5 million players and brings in what 100 million a month but for the vast majority of games it's a heck lot lower than that.

Only 1 or 2 dollars from an average subscription goes towards actually maintaining the game customer service, server maintence etc. The vast majority goes towards actually developing the game which is by far the most expensive part of producing an mmo and where the majority of the money from the subs goes towards paying off.

Yep.  Maintenance costs are actually quite small.  Telling players that they need to pay a monthly fee for sever costs is the greatest lie ever told to gamers.  If gamers knew the truth, they'd realize there is no need to have to charge a monthly fee in order to run the actual game.

Which is why so many companies are worried about what A.net is doing.  If Guild Wars 2 shows to the masses a monthly fee isn't needed, the gravy train will dry up for the rest of the market as the customer base wises up.

Too many people think a monthly fee automatically means the game is better or has better support.  Too many companies are just padding their pockets and releasing inferior products for that to be true (STO, AoC, WAR).  That's just a lie people tell themselves in order to justify the money going out of their checkbook every month.  They tell that lie to everybody on MMO forums.  But who they are really trying to convince are themselves.

Edited by HawkofStorms, 23 July 2010 - 02:24 PM.


#18 Fario

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:45 PM

HawkofStorms said:

Yep.  Maintenance costs are actually quite small.  Telling players that they need to pay a monthly fee for sever costs is the greatest lie ever told to gamers.  If gamers knew the truth, they'd realize there is no need to have to charge a monthly fee in order to run the actual game.

Which is why so many companies are worried about what A.net is doing.  If Guild Wars 2 shows to the masses a monthly fee isn't needed, the gravy train will dry up for the rest of the market as the customer base wises up.

Too many people think a monthly fee automatically means the game is better or has better support.  Too many companies are just padding their pockets and releasing inferior products for that to be true (STO, AoC, WAR).  That's just a lie people tell themselves in order to justify the money going out of their checkbook every month.  They tell that lie to everybody on MMO forums.  But who they are really trying to convince are themselves.

It's true it's also why we're currently seeing such a large influx of companies trying to produce mmo's. Once you've paid off your development costs there's massive profits to be had from subscriptions.

TBF though WAR made massive massive losses because EA poured in huge amounts of money into developing that game but because the game was fundamentally broken and was rushed to release so that EA could get a return on their capital the game bombed without raising anywhere close to the amount of money EA put in and so made huge losses.

Thats the problem with putting in close to 100 million in producing an mmo if the game bombs it really hurts.

Of course you could go the Cryptic route and spend 2 years to produce a piece of crap and sell lifetime subscriptions before the game is even out. That company is so dodgy it isn't even funny.

#19 Sarge

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 05:27 PM

A lot of MMORPG's cost 30 million plus to make. I think a rather good (completed) would cost that as a base amount (inc. upkeep/marketing etc.)

I don't have details at the moment; and considering its 2am....maybe some other time. :P

#20 Arghore

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 07:09 PM

The Subscription comes from a time that it did cost allot to maintain a game, mostlikely to pay for all the server hardware and developement costs loans ... now adays though, server costs are low and a good game can more then break even on boxsales alone ... thus MMO's with a subscription are cashcows, and the sub is just continued income/profit ... hence i dont play games with subscriptions ...

#21 bamm

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 10:22 PM

"Developing a new MMO requires a lot of money and a lot of time. If you are starting today and don't have at least three years and $30 million dollars, consider developing in another genre." - Jeff Strain