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[Infographic] Video Game Budget Breakdown

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#1 Hawkeye 72


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Posted 30 March 2013 - 06:51 PM

Found an interesting infographic online here: http://www.p4rgaming.com/?p=125 as well as a description from a Game Informer article from 2007. Based on this description and article, it makes sense how PGI stated maps cost $250,000 a piece. While it might not take a quarter a million in the literal sense, between salaries, office expenses, software expenses, etc, that figure makes sense.

Posted Image

Luckily, I happen to have that issue of GameInformer right in front of me. The game was Rainbow Six Vegas. Budget breakdown:
30% - Programming
20% - Art
15% - Design
10% - Marketing
8% - Testing
7% - Sound
7% - Animation
2% - Management
1% - Other

They also give a breakdown of 11 months concepting, 8 months preproduction, 10 months production, 3 months submission & release.

It should be noted that some of these numbers are specific to this franchise. 10% marketing is pretty small actually (at least up to a few years ago, publishers routinely spent equal amounts on development and marketing), but in this case it's probably smaller because it's part of an already well-known hardcore franchise, so they don't have to waste money reaching out to people who have never heard of the Rainbow Six games.

Converting lines of code to lines of written text is a dangerous game; actually I think that the vast majority of code lines are much shorter than a full line of text (consider a simple for loop in C++ which might only contain 20 characters; or the one-character open-brace on the following line. Some editors just count lines even if they're comments or blank whitespace. I think it's far more common to see a short line of code than a long line. (But your point about programming taking much longer than prose writing is absolutely correct.)

When I explain to my classes that games are huge, I do it by budgeting:
* Let's say a typical AAA game on a current-gen console costs $10M to develop (this is expensive but by no means the highest; Sims 2 was something like $50M).
* Let's further say that 75% of the dev cost is payroll, and the rest goes to "operations" (i.e. office supplies, rent, hardware, administration personnel, etc.). That's $7.5M just for paid professional developers.
* A few years ago, you could count on developers making an average of about $50K/year (obviously seniors make more and juniors less). Nowadays with inflation it's probably a little more than that, but let's use that number anyway.
* A little math shows that the game then "costs" 150 person-years to develop. That's working full-time, 40+ hours a week, mind you.

Now, let's figure out how long it would take a student team to do the same work. A typical class might demand 10 hours a week from each student, which increases the time to 600 years. Also, productivity studies show that there's about a 4x difference between senior-level and junior-level programmers, so now we're up to 2400 years. An academic year is only 9 months, so that converts to 3200 academic-years, or 6400 semesters.

If my students want to make the next World of Warcraft in a single semester, I show them these numbers and then ask if they have 6,399 friends on Facebook who would be willing to help them :P

Edited by Hawkeye 72, 30 March 2013 - 06:54 PM.

#2 Adridos


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Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:05 AM

It makes one wonder what'll happen in a few years.

I mean, the need for art will be higher than ever since the technologies push forward and each one requires more time to implement. The fact stands that marketting will be here as long as there will be big publishers and it will get bigger every year.

What happens when we hit the top the industry can manage and after a few bankrupcies, there will just be one publisher who will then be able to drop all the marketting because of the lack of any competition?

Just a bit of useless theorizing, but hey.

Also, the fact PGI's maps cost up to $250k is a bit uncertain. I believe it is mostly biased information because of the Tormaline Desert map. I don't remember when exactly did they start doing it, but it was sometimes shortly after River City release. They did all the variations along the way and even created the whole Alpine Peaks before finally deliverring the map in March.

#3 SPencil


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Posted 31 March 2013 - 09:42 AM


...we can outsource our programming...


Seriously, that one line really pissed me off.

#4 Stoicblitzer


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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:08 AM

View PostSPencil, on 31 March 2013 - 09:42 AM, said:


Seriously, that one line really pissed me off.

this looks like a joke.

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