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Game Development

How Much Does it Cost to Make a Video Game App?

written by Nitin Garg | Jan 02, 2023
cost to develop mobile app

Video games have been a part of their life for decades. The video game industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. With the help of technological advancements, the industry has gone through a massive paradigm shift and provided us with an immersive and realistic gaming experience. The average cost of a video game is something investors are unsure about. Various types of video games have varied development costs. The industry is currently booming and entrepreneurs are intrigued by the potential of AAA game development. However, investors are intrigued to know “how much does it cost to make a video game app ?” in order to invest in this lucrative industry and fetch hefty profits. 

According to Statista, the global video gaming industry amounted to $178 billion in 2021. It is expected to amount to $268 billion in the year 2025. North America was the top-grossing market worldwide despite massive growth in the Asian region. 

The revenue from in-game purchases is estimated to account for over $74 million by the year 2025.

Video game development has a lot of potential as a business. In fact, entrepreneurs are intrigued and want to invest in this lucrative industry to generate maximum revenue. Video game app development has allowed investors to penetrate this promising industry and build interactive games of different genres. 

If you also want to create a stellar video game, you might be wondering- “how much does it cost to make a video game app?” Fret not, in this blog, we have provided a complete guide on video game production cost and various factors that affect it. But first, let us learn more about the types of video games. 

Types of Video Games

When we talk about the types of video games, they can be categorised into 4 types. The 4 types include Indie games, AAA games, AA games, and III games. All these types refer to the scope of the project and have varied video game development costs. Although the project size greatly differs, the programming skills required are more or less the same. Let us discuss the different types of video games in detail.

Types of Video Games

1. AAA Games

These games are created by major game publishers. Developing an AAA game requires a large development team and hefty development costs. These games are generally large-scale and have various features and complex gameplay that comprises many elements. The average cost of a AAA video game can range from millions of dollars. Popular examples of AAA games include Grand Theft Auto V, Elden Ring, Red Dead Redemption 2, etc. 

2. Indie Games

These games are generally made by independent developers. They are generally simple games with straightforward gameplay and limited features. Indie games are released on platforms like Steam, Epic games, or the Nintendo e-store. Some popular examples of Indie games include Minecraft, Tetris, and Flappy Bird. 

3. AA Games

These games are similar to AAA games in terms of quality. They are developed by a smaller team working within a limited budget. These games can be defined as better than Indie games but not as complex as AAA games. The price of these games is generally $10 to $40 and popular examples include A Plague Tale: Innocence and Life is Strange. 

4. III Games

III games are also created by independent developers but with larger budgets than Indie games. The development teams of III games often contain AAA game developers but their scale is not large enough to consider them as AAA titles. Popular examples include The Witness and Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. 

Video Game Development: Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a video game is not an easy task. It requires months of hard work and hefty budgets to create a stellar AAA game. Whether you are building a big-budget AAA game or a small-scale Indie game, the first step is to come up with an original idea. Let us break down the essential steps of video game development. 

Video Game Development

1. Come up With an Original Idea

The very first step of the game development process is to come up with a unique idea that will serve as the main concept of your video game. There are a ton of different video games in the market and your idea should be unique for your game to stand out in the market. While thinking of an idea, make sure to brainstorm and figure out necessary aspects of development like-

  • The platform of the game
  • 2D or 3D Game Development
  • Genre 
  • Premise 

These are necessary elements that need to be figured out before you start the development process. Also, keep in mind that developing cross-platform 3D games will hike up the video game production cost. 

2. Market Research and Create a GDD

Once your idea is finalised, the next step is to research the market and create a Game Design Document(GDD). Work on the blueprint of your project with the help of the GDD. The necessary points that must be listed in the GDD are-

  • Storyline
  • Main Characters and NPCs
  • Environment Design or Levels
  • Gameplay mechanics
  • Controls and User Interface
  • Programming Language. 

C++ and Javascript are the most commonly used programming languages for game development. You can also use a game development tool that doesn’t require coding. Keep in mind that the tech stack will greatly affect the cost of developing a video game. 

3. Hire Reliable Game Developers

After the research phase is completed, the next step is to start developing your video game. You will need to choose reliable developers and a game engine for your video game. Popular game engines for game development include Unity, Unreal Engine, and Godot. It is recommended to hire reliable game developers that are proficient in working with your desired game engine. 

Read Blog: How to Make a Video Game in Unity 3D Using VR Technology?

If you are developing a mobile game you won’t need as many technologies as an AAA game and the average cost of video game development will also be cheaper. After this phase, you will have a working prototype that is ready to be tested. 

4. Testing & Quality Analysis

After you have a working prototype, the next and one of the most important steps is to test the game for bugs and glitches. It is important to resolve these issues as they arise. The quality analysis team will complete the whole game multiple times to pinpoint the bugs and glitches. It is essential to hire a game tester so you can iron out all the bugs and glitches and get a refined product. It is a lengthy but essential process as no gamer likes to play a game that is filled with bugs and glitches. Moreover, testing requires an extensive budget and greatly hikes the cost of video game development. 

5. Deployment and Marketing

Once you are done with the testing phase, the next step is to release the game into the market. The best way to promote your game is to use word-of-mouth marketing and promotional campaigns. There are various platforms where you can sell your game or freely distribute your video game. The most popular platforms for game distribution include-

  • Steam
  • Epic Games
  • GOG Games
  • Discord
  • Itch.io

However, it is important to market your game for it to reach the desired target audience. You can use various video game marketing strategies like Social Media Marketing and Affiliate marketing to promote your game among the target audience. You can also partner with Twitch or YouTube streamers to promote your game among niche audiences. Keep in mind that marketing strategies greatly influence video game app development costs. 

Video Game Development Costs

The video game development costs are dependent on various factors like the complexity of the features, cross-platform compatibility, tech stack, location of the developers, app size, etc. But most importantly, the average cost of developing a video game varies with the size of the project. 

It goes without saying that AAA games are more expensive to build than Indie or AA games. The average cost to make a video game app is greatly dependent on what type of video game you are creating. Let us break down the development cost of each type of video game.

Read Blog: Video Poker Game Development 

1. AAA Game Development Cost ($10 million to $50 million)

The average cost of a AAA game is tens of millions of dollars. They are large-scale games that are developed by significant publishers. These games require a full-fledged development team and require at least 1-2 years to completely develop the game from scratch. AAA game publishers have to take care of salary expenses as well as massive manufacturing, distribution, and marketing costs. 

On average, AAA game development costs can range from anywhere between $50 million to $100 million. 

2. Indie Game Development Cost ($70,000 to $150,000)

The average cost of building an Indie game is considerably very less when compared to an AAA game. Indie game developers are usually low on budget and have a very low development budget. On average, the cost of Indie game development ranges from $70,000 to $150,000 depending on the features and functionalities of the game. 

3. AA Game Development Cost ($1 million to $5 million)

The development cost of AA games and III games is somewhat similar. These games are fairly expensive than Indie games but rarely cross the $10 million mark. AA developers are associated with big publishers but are not always part of a big gaming company. The average cost of making a video game ranges from $1 million to $10 million. 

4. III Game Development Cost ($100,000 to $2 million)

III games are similar to AA games and more or less have the same development cost. The III video game production cost ranges from $1 million to $5 million depending on the features and distribution channels. 

These are the estimated costs of developing different types of video games. However, if you want an exact estimate of the cost of a video game, you will have to consult a game development company for an exact quotation. 

Read Blog: Top 10 Exciting Video Gaming Apps You must Download Now!!

Most Expensive Video Games Ever Developed

These are some of the most expensive games ever created. All these games were developed by renowned publishers like Activision, CD Projekt Red, Electronic Arts, etc. Have a look-

Most Expensive Video Games Ever Developed
NamePublisherPlatformTotal Development Cost(in million $)
Star CitizenCloud Imperium GamesWindows$419 million+
Cyberpunk 2077CD Projekt RedWindows, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia$331 million
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2ActivisionPS3, Windows, XBOX 360$316 million
Final Fantasy VIISquare Enix & Sony Computer EntertainmentPS1$245 million
Halo 2MicrosoftXbox$230 million
DestinyActivisionPS3, PS4, Xbox360, Xbox One$160 million
Shadow of the Tomb RaiderSquare EnixPS4, Windows, Xbox One$115-$146 million
Dead Space 2Electronic ArtsPS3, Windows, Xbox 360$145 million
Grand Theft Auto IVRockstar GamesPS3, Xbox 360$126 million
ShenmueSegaDreamcast$76-$114 million

Final Words

If you want to dive into the video game industry and create your own video game, you will need a hefty budget. The average cost of different types of video games is stated above. Developing an AAA game will require you to hire a large development team and have the support of a large publisher to distribute your game to the audience. Indie games are fairly easy to make but require video game marketing strategies to reach their desired audience. However, you can also hire a game development company that can help you develop your game without any hassle.

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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q.1 How long does it take to develop a video game?

The average duration of the development process is dependent on the scope of the project. AAA games generally require 2-3 yeast to develop while Indie games can be created within a year.

Q.2 What tools do AAA games use?

AAA game development uses the same frameworks and engines as any other normal game. Unreal Engine and Unity are some of the most common game engines used in aaa game development.

Q.3 Is it profitable to develop an AAA game?

Although they require a hefty budget to develop, if marketed properly, AAA games will provide you with the maximum return on investment.

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Nitin Garg

I am Nitin Garg Founder of BR Softech PVT LTD - an Award-winning, app, web & game development company. We are armed with 180+ geeks & 2753 clients worldwide, I have driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship and dream to build a billion-dollar-company.

About Us

BR Softech Pvt. Ltd. excels in providing cost-effective IT Solutions. Established in August 2012 with over 10+ years of rich experience. An Apex rated IT serving company around the world. Our team of innovative and creative designers deals in web designing, and mobile game/software development intending to deliver outstanding digital outcomes.

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