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How come gamedev is said to be so... Expensive?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TheBlackBox, Jan 5, 2016.

?

Have you ever spent money just for the development of your game?

  1. Yes

    76.7%
  2. No

    18.6%
  3. I'd rather not say...

    4.7%
  1. TheBlackBox

    TheBlackBox

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    Hey there,

    I was thinking to myself - how come making a game is always described as being expensive? The development process in particular?

    I've been working with Unity for two years now (I'm finally getting to the point where I'm starting to develop seriously, instead of for fun :p ) and although I've never finished a game I've still never actually seen the need to spend money on what I'm developing...

    So what do you guys spend money on that makes developing expensive?
    Have I just not reached the need for money yet, as I've never really neared completion on any of my projects?

    or is the whole 'Expensive development' thing something mainly limited to Indie teams?

    Thanks - Brandon.
     
  2. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    When you start spending money, you'll start finishing games.
     
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  3. TheBlackBox

    TheBlackBox

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    Really, why's that?
     
  4. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Software, computers, expertise, music, texture libraries, (or cameras to capture your own), sound libraries (or equipment to record sounds), paying accountants, travelling to conferences and tradeshows.

    Some cost can be replaced by time, but then time becomes too much and you never finish your project.

    It also all depends on the game you're making.
     
  5. TheBlackBox

    TheBlackBox

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    So most costs are just for equipment and some assets?

    Is it still possible for people to develop a game entirely by themselves, with next-to-no costs? I'm just curious as I've wondered for a while, why developers are always using so much money on development. I guess another question is, is self-funding necessary in the game development field? Or could you build a game for next to no-costs still making a profit in some way?

    I'm not asking because I'm some cheap-skate hoping to do as much as I can for free, I'm just wondering why spending is so common.
     
  6. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Well. Are you going to have music in your game?

    If yes, are you going to write it?

    If yes, don't you need software, VSTs (musicians? it depends), instruments?

    If you are not going to write it, are you going to license it?

    All these cost money.
     
  7. RichardKain

    RichardKain

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    It's changed over the years. When I first started exploring game development, it was extremely expensive. Back then, if you didn't have a copy of 3D Studio Max you pretty much couldn't do modding, let alone full-on game development. A decent copy of Visual Studio was also a pre-requisite. And in those days a 3D Stuido Max license would run you around $3,000 for one seat, and around $1,000 for a copy of Visual Studio. Photoshop was $500, and was also considered a bare minimum for 2D asset creation. So just on the software side of things you were looking at around $5,000 USD just to get in on the ground floor. That's not even taking into account the different plugins you would have to pay for that were also required for some games, or adjusting for inflation.

    These days, things have improved significantly for the aspiring developer. If you need to 3D model on the cheap, there's Blender, as well as several other open-source modelers. Versions of compilers/IDEs such as Visual Studio are distributed for free by Microsoft, and there are open-source alternatives for anyone not wanting to be tied down to a company. GIMP is a viable alternative to Photoshop, and even Photoshop now has an affordable subscription option. The market is practically swimming in free/low-cost game engines and programming frameworks. As far as the expense of game development is concerned, these are the salad days. It's never been this good before.
     
  8. Mwsc

    Mwsc

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    If you hire 100 developers to work for 3 years, the development itself would be super expensive. If you do it all yourself during time that would otherwise be spent watching Cops... then it could be a cheap hobby.
     
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  9. RichardKain

    RichardKain

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    Also, the older you get, the more familiar you become with "time-cost." And when it comes to time-cost, there are few things more expensive than game development. Game-dev is a time sink, and can suck up huge amounts of time with almost no fiscal return. This can make it a VERY expensive proposition.
     
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  10. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    You're always paying. Either with your time, or with your money.
    In your case, you've already spent 2 years.

    Running a team requires cash that will quickly go over dozens or even hunderds of thousands (if not millions) USD for 1..2 years of development.
    If you're working alone, you're paying with your time instead. Also, all the hardware and tools you got - those are part of the expenses.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  11. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    (I believe one of those should be time... :) Time is money though, so I guess it still works :p )
     
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  12. BFGames

    BFGames

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    As a hobby it does not have to be expensive at all. Not today at least.
    It really depends on what your goals are.

    But even for a hobby project (if it has a bit ambition), then the chances that you are a good enough programmer, graphic artist, music composer and designer are very very slim.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
  13. JamesLeeNZ

    JamesLeeNZ

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    quoted for in-accuracy ;)

    I've spent thousands. Released one game (not using any of the assets I purchased). I've used all the assets in games I was enthusiastic about creating, and have a good library of stuff to use, but I dont think it improves likelihood of releasing.

    The reason gamedev is considered expensive, is because time = money. Games take a lot of time (generally) to be made. Then they get released and make potentially (99% of the time), little to no money.

    Making games in todays market feels more like a charity, where my time aint worth anything to the people who play my games.
     
  14. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

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    That's not *always* the case. People make tons of games in those 48 hour game jams that cost little or nothing. But have you seen them?

    It's about scope. I could put a Pong clone together in an hour or something using a single sound effect and a couple of white squares and it'd legitimately be a "game." I could also slave away for a few years on a hardcore turn-based strategy war game with crappy programmer art and it may very well find an audience. That's not really so typical though.

    As soon as you get into a design that involves enemy AI and/or multiplayer, more complex UI's, decent sounding and looking audio and video assets (and more of them), custom rendering, etc for more gameplay, it starts adding up really quickly. Plus you generally want to polish, optimize, and play test, which adds even more time. Games with anything beyond a basic scope generally involve paying for people's time, either directly or indirectly (like the asset store), since one person doesn't generally have enough time on their own to do all of the work, not to mention develop every one of those skills.

    Any scope beyond an abstract game with very basic gameplay starts to add up hours fast. If it's something you want to sell, you'll likely want to at least commission cover art for instance, or it's going to look like a hobby project. Nothing wrong with hobby projects - those can be done cheaply. But those aren't going to be confused with titles where some $$$ was spent.
     
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  15. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    Forget lisencing and hardware costs. These are essentially immaterial.

    You big cost is labour. You have already spent two years on your game. Two years at 60K per year is certainly expensive.

    Game dev requires skilled labour. Skilled labour is not cheap.
     
  16. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Creating a product is as expensive as the desired product you want to make. It is the same for everything in existence and isn't a game dev exclusive thing.

    Really common sense.
     
  17. goat

    goat

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    I've spent about $3000 in the Asset Store and another $500 for Unity Licenses back when you had to for even basic functionality. I won't include my PCs as I would have had them anyway or my tablets as I won one and would have bought the other anyway. If I were to whittle down my Asset Store purchases to what I really needed it'd be about $1000 - $1500 but I'll still buy more Asset Store things in the future from time to time because I enjoy it.

    That leaves the approximately $1000 I've spend on licensing 3D models with another $1500 to come over the course of the year for a grant total of $6000 which is a very expensive hobby but the type of hobby (yes if I were to go on to make a lot money I'll still call it a hobby as I'd have to likely sell the property that made all the money as I alone couldn't properly support it) you spend most of your money upfront. My other hobbies, like wood carving, only cost about $1000 upfront but the wood is very expensive if you carve a whole lot of carvings.

    That said if I ever make an interesting game I'm not worried about advertising to make it a popular game; I've seen from the GooglePlay numbers enough visitors visit the store listing, even after 1 year and no updates, that if it was a unique original fun game they'd spread to word - why enough visitors visit that I could reasonably keep improving the game until it was unique and interesting. Since that's what I'm really trying for and not trying to make a living or become rich from games that'd suit me just fine. Alas, the game now is just a reskinned Infinite Runner game and a seasonal one at that.

    Now those that have professional aspirations with EA or Unity Tech should take a different approach, you might want to learn about how to advertise and IAPs and all those things.
     
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  18. RichardKain

    RichardKain

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    The big takeaway from a lot of these responses is...

    Time = money. Game development is expensive because it costs a LOT of time.

    I fully agree with this sentiment. I've only ever purchased one Asset off of the Unity Asset store. But I specifically purchased that Asset because of time. I was confident that I could replicate the functionality of the Asset that I purchased on my own. I'm a pretty capable C# coder, and I knew that I could create my own version of the Asset.

    I estimated it would take me at least 3 weeks, and probably no more than 2 months. (estimating programming projects is not easy, the windows for completion tend to be broad) But I was also fairly confident that the Asset in question would provide me with all of the functionality I needed, and the developer of the Asset was only asking $20 for it. So I put 3 weeks of laborious coding on one side of the scales (at least 30+ man-hours), and $20 on the other side of the scales, and then reached for my wallet.

    I paid for that Asset, and never looked back. It worked just as I needed it to, and I was up and prototyping less than an hour after I had purchased it.

    Whenever I encounter a situation where I have to choose between a large amount of time, and a relatively small amount of money, I spend the money. More often than not, it's worth it. I don't do this for art assets, but that's because I always prefer to make my own. I can certainly appreciate those who do want to spend money on art assets, as it can eat up a lot of your time.
     
  19. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Basically the others have it covered.

    Really depends on what your goals are. I am a hobbyist developer doing this just for fun. Although at the same time I am always building up a framework I can use one day to make a game to throw out for sale. But I'm always looking at some time in the future for that.

    I spent $300 this past October contracting out custom game art for my Halloween game so far. It is a WIP that I will work on for 3 to 5 weeks each year before Halloween until one year it is done.

    I spent $600 this past November & December contracting out custom game art for my Christmas game so far. It is also a WIP that I will revisit each year for 4 to 6 weeks before Christmas until one year it is done.

    On the other hand, my 2014 Christmas game cost $20. The only thing I contracted out was the Santa & sleigh. The rest of the graphics are all free clip art that I processed as needed or things I knocked out in my usual quick n easy way.

    Interestingly, my 2014 Christmas game was rated higher and seems quite a bit more popular than my newer game despite putting far less focus on graphics. Of course, some of this I imagine is because my newer game is a much larger scope and I released only a very early version for feedback.

    Like @RichardKain I value my time greatly... far more than money. So I will and do gladly buy assets that save time. It is especially important for a lone hobbyist dev like me. I need to maximize the amount I can accomplish in a given time. This way I can focus on bigger and bigger projects. Although I suppose it is possible one day I may have 4 to 5 different game projects I am working on each year. Like my Halloween game and Christmas game. And going that way it won't matter so much if the projects drag on because I will be able to jump around from project to project.

    So anyway make of all that what you will.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  20. TheBlackBox

    TheBlackBox

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    Thanks for the responses everybody,

    That may be, but I'm only really quite young, so I haven't made it into the world of labour yet, just the world of education right now, but I do see what you mean. I just wasn't looking at game development in the right way, I wasn't thinking of time as worth something because really to me it's not, well not yet anyway. Thanks for the response!

    Yep, that's definitely what I'm taking away from this - I'm sure from now I'm going to start valuing my time a lot more as well as other people's that help me out with my projects, so thanks a bunch!

    Thanks to everybody that has helped me out with this, it's a question that I asked myself every time that people mentioned "no that would be too expensive" or "I'm not sure we have the money to do that" for things that I would consider worth the time, and relatively low cost. But now of course I know that a somebody's time is worth a lot, not exclusive to game development, and that it should be considered when planning to do anything most of your project.

    So thanks a lot everybody, good luck with your game deving! :D
     
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  21. tiggus

    tiggus

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    I agree with pretty much everything else said here but also keep in mind that online games can get pricy really fast. If you are planning on releasing a game on one of the multiplayer clouds like Photon or your own rented VPS' or whatever, make sure you do the math ahead of time. Bandwidth and compute cycles are not free, it may seem that way when it is just you testing, but run the numbers before you launch anything and make sure it pays for itself(if that is a concern to you).

    I've had a nasty surprise more than once even when just letting a few friends beta test some online games when the bill showed up.
     
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  22. Yash987654321

    Yash987654321

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    Electricity, Internet are not free :(. And the energy you spent from the food you ate what you bought from real money?
     
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  23. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    As soon as you're spending time developing your game, this immediately becomes a development expense, as you could be working and earning money in these hours.

    Time = Money
     
  24. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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  25. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    It was just a general comment to stimulate thought, not a binary law. ;)
     
  26. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Quoted for truth. 'nuff said.
    Gigi
     
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  27. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    This does however mean going for a poo does cost more than expected. Sleeping is the most expensive of all. We should do something about that!
     
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  28. Yash987654321

    Yash987654321

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    Everyone is not a base class of a hippo -_-
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
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  29. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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  30. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    As opposed to the cost of not using the bathroom?
     
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  31. jpthek9

    jpthek9

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    It's more like a long-term investment. Pooing and sleeping might take some time away now, but it'll keep you going in the future.
     
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  32. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    @Ryiah clearly solved it tho.
     
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  33. TheSniperFan

    TheSniperFan

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    ^This.
    The saying "time is money" applies here. Quite literal to be exact. The biggest expenses (wages, rent, taxes, etc.) are multiplied by the time it takes to ship a game.
    That number gets really big really fast.
     
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  34. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Wow. I'd never heard of any of this. I've spent about a year and a half on my game, part time. I'm not sure what the end goal is but I do want to learn this craft. I am basically programming something I think will be cool, and fun. But I've never spent $300 or $600 on any one thing (like art). I basically go at it with the thinking that I will do it all myself.

    TBH I was thinking spending $300 on a piece of art is too steep for me, for something I may not even ever sell (or make money from). Framed in this perspective, that's not a lot!

    I really do wish I had someone to collaborate on it with. I guess that's my most looming goal. I don't see that ever happening because when I'm away from school, I don't go out except to go to work (when I have a job). Its kinda pointless to even try in this S***ty town though. There's nothing, literally nothing to do here for a young person.

    Its becoming more and more apparent every day, that I need to take a long, hard look at what I'm doing with my life.
    I was looking at prices for apartments in other cities and tbh I don't know how people do it. I've never made much money in a year and there are reasons I haven't made more, part of it is this S***ty town, the other part I don't want to talk about here.

    Right now, internally I'm yelling at myself "Fuh-king do something!"
     
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