"Numbers post" - $500 game
Written by miechu   
Monday, 29 August 2011 00:00

Every now and then you can see a "numbers post" from developers that have either been very successful with their game and want to inspire other developers, or from the ones that have failed big time, investing time and money and not getting much back.

This numbers post will be different mostly because the game hasn't even shipped yet (it will in a week if all goes according to plan). I just want to spare some details on how this game was created and how much it cost me. This way you'll have a pretty clear picture of how it works for part-time indie game developer, and how much money will allow Frosties to break even. 

To give you a little background, I'm a one man dev-team doing my iOS games development in my spare time. In "real life", I'm a regular game-dev professional working on AAA games, but I enjoy very much every opportunity to code anything not-AAA related. So being an indie game developer is my hobby or part-time job. Only recently Jacek joined my team (increasing its numbers by 100%) to help me out with some marketing. He has no background nor experience with it, but he always makes up with enthusiasm and the will to learn.

Obviously I haven't written any music nor have I drawn any art for Frosties, but there will be more on this later on.

So, without further ado, to bring out the numbers first: I've spent $540 while developing my game. I'll repeat: 540 USD (approximately, depending on PLN/USD exchange rate ;)) Here's more precise division: 

  • $330 - contractor Artist
  • $170 - contractor Sound Engineer & Music Composer in one person
  • $40 - tools - I'm planning to write a separate post about it

I'm not counting the $100 iOS developer licence, since renewed it anyway before I even decided to develop Frosties.

But there's a catch (of course!). I worked with people who do contract jobs for me on a regular basis, so I had a big discount for their services. Also, I'm not counting the time I spent developing the game, since all that time I've had a regular full-time day job. I think about the process of developing Frosties as my "hobby time". And it took me a while to implement it, since my initial prototype was ready in late December last year. I didn't spend every day working on my "hobby" project, and I even had like two months off, but still!

EDIT: After a discussion with other developers on TouchArcade forum I decided to also add time I've spent developing Frosties as development cost. It's very hard to estimate how much time I've invested in my game, especially that until late phase of development I've been doing it sporadically. And at no point I intend to place $ next to my hours. Time was a resource I used and although limited quantities of it were available at one time it was free for me. So I would estimate time spent developing Frosties to around 270 hours stretched across 9 months of development. A lot of time come to think of it ;)

As you can see, the development cost of Frosties was very low. But I'm still worried my game won't break even. One of those irrational fears everyone has, I guess ;) I do games for fun, but I do admit I'd love to see those games make some money - even if only to convince my wife that me sitting at a computer most of the time is not a total waste of time! ;)


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