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Subject: Board game vs. iPad game cost to create? rss

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David Zumwalt
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Are development costs for iPad games predicted to decline or stay much higher than manufacuring costs for a board game? Is anyone up to date on the costs of both industries?
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John "Omega" Williams
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The cost is that of someone willing to code the game and someone willing to do the graphics for the game.

If you cant do one of those yourself then expect to likely have to pay someone else to.

I see many Flash games now with iPad versions. So learning Flash game programming or funding someone adept at it is one route I have been considering.

Games that are minis intensive for example may be vastly cheaper as a computer game. And not just iPad. A flash version set up on Kongregate can net you a trickle of income if it catches on.
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Russ Hill
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Hi, I'm familiar with iOS development as that's my job, so honestly, no I don't think the cost of development is going to drop. The market for people with iOS skills is still very buoyant and day rates in the UK (outside of London) are around £250. Inside London, you're talking £300+.

However, as Omega2064 says quite rightly, it's down to what someone wants to charge for the development itself. Often you could negotiate lower rates with people on a freelance basis as they'll be working from home, and also if they are interested in the idea, it often leads them to WANT to do it for cheaper.

The big and often overlooked issue is the graphic design. This is an area that very few developers excel at, and good user interface design and quality graphics (especially for the new iPad "3" retina display) are really what will make or break a game.

This means unless you are a talented designer who's adept with Photoshop and can supply layered PSD's that the developer can cut themselves for inclusion, you're also going to need to pay a designer. I'm not sure on the rates for a good designer, but suspect around the same or slightly lower than the developer.

HTH
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Alex Weldon
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mrvectrex wrote:

This means unless you are a talented designer who's adept with Photoshop and can supply layered PSD's that the developer can cut themselves for inclusion, you're also going to need to pay a designer. I'm not sure on the rates for a good designer, but suspect around the same or slightly lower than the developer.


Artists/designers are underappreciated... coders tend to look at art as a "soft skill" that "anyone can do with a bit of practice." And almost always, game developers are coders themselves and hire artists, rather than the other way around. So there's an imbalance of power/worth, and artists tend to get paid a lot shittier rates than coders, even though, as someone who does both, I can tell you that writing passable code is a lot easier than creating passable art.

So yeah, I charge about $30/hr. when doing freelance art and design work for indie devs, which is substantially lower than I would charge corporate clients. Which would be a $240 day rate, assuming 8-hour days, though I'd probably even go a little lower if I was getting a whole pile of guaranteed work in one go, e.g. doing all the artwork and GUI design for an entire game.

----

Anyway, as far as budget goes, if you're not doing any of the work yourself, you should probably assume at least two full-time months for a coder and one full-time month for an artist to produce a simple iOS board game. So if you figure $350/day for the coder, times 50 days, and $225/day for the artist, times 25 days, that's $17500 + $5625 = $23125.

Of course, doing something highly polished like the Ascension, Nightfall or Ticket to Ride apps would require a slightly larger team and considerably more time, so you're getting into the six-figure budgets there.

We're also omitting sound and music, but that's a comparatively small expense.

Doing a 5000-copy run of a relatively simple board game with unextravagant art requirements is also in the $20k-$30k range, so I'd say your basic minimum budget for starting out is close to the same either way... except that, if you're a coder yourself, you can "pay" a lot of the development costs of a digital game with your own time, rather than with cash.
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mike
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apples to oranges comparison and not only that it depends on the scope of your project.

For a board game you'll need someone to do the following

Game Design
Graphic Design- Logos, Card Type, Rule Book
Illustrator/Artist- Artwork, board or card design
Editor- If you have more than a page of rules you'll want someone to edit them

Need minatures? someone needs to design the prototypes for those

All that's prior to going to a manufacturer and production cost will vary by amount ordered, number of components, etc, etc

good article on game publishing with some cost examples

http://playtmg.com/pages/how-to-make-board-game


iOs development for iPad or iPhone you'll need
software developer
graphics designer
interface designer
Q/A and testing

got a game with allot of text in game or for the rules or dialogue and you'll need a writer editor.

Doubtful you get one developer than can do all of this, so you're talking a couple people for a simple game a team of developers for a complex game.

a good article of app development and costs

http://www.padgadget.com/2010/10/17/the-cost-of-building-an-...

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Jeff Timothy
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Omega2064 wrote:
The cost is that of someone willing to code the game and someone willing to do the graphics for the game.


Everyone always forgets the audio...

(I'm not an audio guy, I worked for a decade in the industry as a CG modeller. Everyone always forgets the audio!)

On one hand you've got cost for Code, Art, Audio, Game design, testing and marketting.
On the other hand you've got cost for Art, Game Design, testing, marketting and Manufacturing.

The manufacturing component is a huge cost which is no longer required for video game production.
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Nate K
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I would assume that creating a board game or an iPad game can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, but if you want to put out a quality product, you're going to have to spend some money.

You may want to ask D. Brad Talton, Jr.. He's designed and developed both kinds of games.
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Alex Weldon
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I think the big difference between the two is not so much in cost, but what kind of return you can expect. With a physical board game, you're much less likely to make millions of dollars, but you're probably a lot more likely to at least make your money back, if you have some understanding of the industry. Digital games, especially for iOS, are bound to be very hit-or-miss. Your potential revenues are much higher, but you're also more likely to go completely unnoticed and sell like 5 copies to your mom and a few close friends.
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David Zumwalt
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Hey thanks you all! Very good responses. My game requires minis so manufacturing would be expensive. On the other hand it's a decently complex game so programming it, especially if there's a single player vs. AI, would probably be tough. The game design is mostly finished as I have done all the non technical, non artistic parts myself.
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Alex Weldon
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For AI, don't sweat it. Most digital gamers are spoiled brats who can't handle losing, so the more effort you put into your AI, the worse your game will do. Anything capable of winning against my dog while he steps randomly on the iPad will result in negative reviews complaining about "excessive difficulty." shake
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John "Omega" Williams
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JeffTimothy wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
The cost is that of someone willing to code the game and someone willing to do the graphics for the game.


Everyone always forgets the audio...

(I'm not an audio guy, I worked for a decade in the industry as a CG modeller. Everyone always forgets the audio!)

On one hand you've got cost for Code, Art, Audio, Game design, testing and marketting.
On the other hand you've got cost for Art, Game Design, testing, marketting and Manufacturing.

The manufacturing component is a huge cost which is no longer required for video game production.


I'm hearing impaired... er... what audio? ninja
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OneManCrafts R.
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Your answers are totally spot-on (based on my experience), Alex, Kudos!. I couldn't agree more.
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Jeff Timothy
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Omega2064 wrote:
JeffTimothy wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
The cost is that of someone willing to code the game and someone willing to do the graphics for the game.


Everyone always forgets the audio...

(I'm not an audio guy, I worked for a decade in the industry as a CG modeller. Everyone always forgets the audio!)

On one hand you've got cost for Code, Art, Audio, Game design, testing and marketting.
On the other hand you've got cost for Art, Game Design, testing, marketting and Manufacturing.

The manufacturing component is a huge cost which is no longer required for video game production.


I'm hearing impaired... er... what audio? ninja


Just hook-up to a good amp system, crank it... you'll feel it.
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Joe Mucchiello
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The other thing being forgotten here is the network server. Most tablet games are going to want to "call home" in order to do things like find other players who want to play against you, Serve in-game ads, etc. Usually an existing company can piggy back this onto their existing web servers. But a startup needs to add these costs to the game.

Networking elements also require ongoing maintenance costs that should not be forgotten. (Warehousing is often forgotten on the physical board game side.)

I think 2 months is an aggressive schedule for a board game and anyone who quotes you with 2 months to make your game should be asked to show you an existing game they created in only 2 months. Especially, if any form of game AI is being included with the game.
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Amy Worrall
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jmucchiello wrote:
The other thing being forgotten here is the network server. Most tablet games are going to want to "call home" in order to do things like find other players who want to play against you, Serve in-game ads, etc. Usually an existing company can piggy back this onto their existing web servers. But a startup needs to add these costs to the game.

Networking elements also require ongoing maintenance costs that should not be forgotten. (Warehousing is often forgotten on the physical board game side.)

I think 2 months is an aggressive schedule for a board game and anyone who quotes you with 2 months to make your game should be asked to show you an existing game they created in only 2 months. Especially, if any form of game AI is being included with the game.


(I work in iOS development, but not in games.)

For networking, if you know you're going iOS-only, there's a turn-based networking library as part of Game Center now, which saves you from having to run the server yourself. If you want cross-platform it's no help though.

You're right that 2 months is crazy optimistic. I'd go for more like 4-6 months. If nothing else, you need padding for all the things that will inevitably go wrong!

To the OP: cost-wise, to commission a development house like the one I work for, you'd be looking at a five figure sum. That would be for the complete package though: artwork, UI design, coding, testing, and probably sending suggestions on game mechanics if you were receptive. You'd need PR on top of that however (apps don't sell themselves).

One other thing to consider is: you'll get a lower quote if you have a set of rules in their final form to start with. If you want to iteratively work on your rules while a team of programmers are coding away (thus causing them to have to go back and change things all the time), it'll cost more than if things are reasonably set in stone from the beginning. (Everyone expects the odd "My gosh, this mechanic doesn't work at all! Can we change it?", but if they're happening every week it makes development drag on.)

 
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Alex Weldon
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To be clear, when I said 2 months at the low end, we're talking about a simple card game like Uno, Reiner Knizia's Money, or whatever, or an abstract board game like chess or backgammon or Octi (without AI). If the game mechanics themselves are trivial (any of those should be prototypable in a weekend), then I don't think it's too crazy to do all the other stuff in two months, assuming you've got a full-time programmer and a separate (probably part-time) artist.

Obviously, if you're doing a card game with a lot of cards that have unique effects, or a board game with multi-phase turns and lots of different kinds of choices to be made, then the complexity of coding the game rules ups the total time in a way that's multiplicative with the level of polish.
 
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Amy Worrall
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design
Re: Board game vs. iPad game cost to create?
We may be accounting for the time slightly differently. I'm considering it from the point of view of a development studio, and I'm measuring from the date the client commits to the project (i.e. after the proposal and pitch stage) until the date we send the finished app to Apple. The main thing that eats up the time, especially in the latter half of development, is back-and-forth with the client: we send out a build we think is feature complete, get some feedback a few days later, go back to the code (or send a message to the graphic designer) and do some more work, repeat the process a week later.
 
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