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How much does it cost to develop a single game for iOS or Android? — Gideros Forum

How much does it cost to develop a single game for iOS or Android?

denizdeniz Maintainer
edited May 2012 in General questions

Do you have any estimates on how long does it take to develop a single game without using Gideros Studio or any other cross-platform tool? Any data on the subject is welcome. A rough estimate is fine. It would be great if you can provide an estimate about the effort. One developer, four months... etc. (It would also be great if you can tell me how much effort is needed after you decide to use Gideros Studio)

thanks a lot!


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  • @deniz: Unfortunately time taken to develop is not an easy thing to estimate / calculate.

    A developer with no job and a lot of dedication should always be able to develop his / her game quicker than one who has a full time job.

    It would also depends on other demands on your time and resources. I have found it takes no time at all to come up with ideas and start something but then as I work full time I only have a limited time to work on the idea. Then there are distractions including shopping, eating etc, which also eat into your already limited time.

    Other points to consider are visuals and audio. If you are not overly competent in either field then these will also take a lot of time. Also, the complexity of your project may double or even treble the amount of time it took you to develop your previous project.

    Prototyping usually takes between a few days and 2 weeks, then the coding starts in earnest. Learning a new system like LUA / Gideros Studio will also add to the time.

    Maybe the best person to ask about this would be @alexzheng as he has produced 3 or 4 games using Gideros Studio in a short period of time.

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  • Hmm - are you trying to mathematically define the "Zhenged" phenomenon, or how long is a piece of Zheng?

    To be honest - the time taken depends entirely on the developer, his (or her) experience, familiarity with the tools used, how well the design is thought out and a billion other factors.

    It's a known fact that projects will expand to fill the time allocated to them so you'd be better off setting yourself a target and then working back from that to see what was possible within the time. Using a system like Gideros will actually speed up development as most of the "heavy lifting" is already done for you.
    WhiteTree Games - Home, home on the web, where the bits and bytes they do play!
    #MakeABetterGame! "Never give up, Never NEVER give up!" - Winston Churchill
  • @Deniz, I guess the bulk of the question has been answered, but it would be nice to define what you mean by a game. One can churn out something like 101 mini games in a months time or take upto a year to make something like CNC. There was an interview with the developer of The Lost City, he is a lone developer and artist, that made his millions on the AppStore recently. He spend like 6 months creating the game and the art.

    There are some games that are poorly engineered (in terms of code) but function quite well and pass as entertaining and good games. While there could be some well engineered games that fall flat in providing any engagement.

    As Scouser mentioned, I would tend to agree, the areas where it does take time is Graphics and Audio.
    twitter: @ozapps | http://www.oz-apps.com | http://howto.oz-apps.com | http://reviewme.oz-apps.com
    Author of Learn Lua for iOS Game Development from Apress ( http://www.apress.com/9781430246626 )
    Cool Vizify Profile at https://www.vizify.com/oz-apps
  • I think it depends on your enthusiasm.
    I have a full time job, and I had never use lua before,and I write games just in my spare time and most of the game idea is come from my wife, at first the main motivation to write a game is very simple,just because my wife want to play it.
    Generally speaking,the most complex of a game is the logical algorithm,however,it may not be the most time-consuming part since it's the most interesting part to me,as I'm urgent to see the result.
    Actually, the time you spending on sitting down and writing code is really short.
    Most classical games like tetris or match 3 will not take more than 2 days to code and debug after you have think over how to implement it.
    Of course that's not include every scene in a game,sometimes,make a main menu or help screen may take your more time for graphics and the time spending on thinking about the algorithm is depend on the complexity of the game itself.

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  • denizdeniz Maintainer
    Thanks guys for all your answers. I know what you mean. Software projects are hard to estimate, there are lots of factors. I understand your point.

    Maybe I should be more specific. For example, think of the angry birds game. Say you are the programmer and the artwork, music and the non-programming stuff is already there.
    A-you are doing it without using any SDK, using only openGL, C++, etc.
    B-with gideros studio.

    How long does it take to write the coding part (with menu, levels, physics everything) in each case? Can I say, if case A takes 10 amounts of time, case B takes 1, or 3?

    I know I can create a interactive book like Elephant's bath, in 10 hours with Gideros. I did not try it without Gideros:) I also programmed tim the timber. I guess, if the artwork and music is ready, it would take less than two weeks with Gideros but without Gideros I am not sure. Also, for the arguments sake, you can imagine the developer knows C++ well, and does not have a full time job. Only game programming. Also suppose for case b, the developer also knows lua and Gideros IDE pretty well. I imagine, if I do not use Gideros, it would take a lot more. But how much, thats what I am trying to guess.

    It would be cool to have some actual data. %%-
    Cheers and thanks!
  • @deniz,
    I can give you a parallel from when I was IT Manager at BMW. The labour is charged in FRU (Flat Rate Units) this is a unit that is derived as an average and a dollar value is put on this. BMW states (for eg.) that to remove the engine from the car is 5 FRU's worth, it does not mean it is 5 hours, but depending on the FRU time and Dollar value of that dealership, this will translate into the corresponding time and dollars. This is determined by the overheads and the skills of the technicians at the dealership.

    Similarly, you can have an app made in say 3 units, but these units will be different for every developer or organisation. The old methods using Lines of Code etc are not very relevant anymore. I made some of my initial apps including art in Objective-C in less than a week (while working full time), they are still solid but would I want to do them again differently, maybe yes, Will it take the same time if I used a lua based framework, maybe not or maybe yes, if I do not find proper documentation on a particular API that I might want to use.

    Lastly, if someone is full time into app development, then sometimes it takes longer as they have the luxury to have it modular and technically better than if you wanted to get an app out in the limited time that you can invest into it, output takes priority.

    You might have seen many games being made in 48 hours (Ludlum Dare) so everything is possible... but if you were making an app like Angry Birds, you would work on the Graphics as a project (they would keep evolving over time, before you feel just one more iteration and they will be perfect) while the developers will work on the code and make that slingshot go as realistically as possible and so on. The developers would talk about creating an engine, a 2D/3D rendering pipeline and that is where the bulk of the time for large studios is taken up. In some rather rare cases they end up reinventing the wheel.

    From my exp. as a FT mobile development studio, there is no such situation of everything in palce. The moment you start to get it all together, the client will request changes to the graphics, gameplay, etc.

    Would like to hear others point of view on this.
    twitter: @ozapps | http://www.oz-apps.com | http://howto.oz-apps.com | http://reviewme.oz-apps.com
    Author of Learn Lua for iOS Game Development from Apress ( http://www.apress.com/9781430246626 )
    Cool Vizify Profile at https://www.vizify.com/oz-apps
  • Re Angry Birds - Seb Lee-Delisle live coded a basic Angry Birds demo using Corona in 30 minutes, although I'm sure he'd practised it before hand as well (and Corona do have a fairly complete "Ghost's vs Monsters" example as part of their SDK.

    I think it's a classic "Pareto" thing (the 80:20 rule), when initially starting an app you can get the first 80% done very quickly (maybe 20% of the total time), it's the last 20% that will take the remaining 80% :)

    One area where a lot of hobbiest programmers (myself included) struggle is knowing when to stop, or believing that the game is actually good enough at a given point to release, as you can always add a "bit more" polish and a few more tweaks.
    WhiteTree Games - Home, home on the web, where the bits and bytes they do play!
    #MakeABetterGame! "Never give up, Never NEVER give up!" - Winston Churchill
  • “$600,000, 3 months of work and 3 developers”. 3 professionals who need 3 months to complete the project, then 1440 man hours may not be worth the $600,000" (source archer-soft.com/en/blog/how-much-does-it-cost-build-mobile-app)
    One of the biggest differences between a traditional computer game and mobile device games is the hours of gameplay.Mobile games are designed to load fast and to save where they are, and to allow the player to get back into the game quickly.

    On a general note, iOS game app can be developed/cost you in the range of $5000 - $10000. A huge game with loads of functionality is more complex, and complex general means more work and thus a longer timeframe.
  • You could check prices at www.cleveroad.com. Article called "How much does it cost to make an app?"
    In a nutshell, prices of a product can vary from $2,000-$250,000. Quite a significant gap, isn't it?
  • iOS store is loaded with countless games and every day there are some new making their entry in. These games are available free of cost, some of them have free versions with paid versions and rest are paid, but still all provide great benefits with financial profits as well. There are numerous companies that can help you to get your iOS game app developed with good user engagement and experience perspectives
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