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How Much Does It Cost To Develop a Gaming App?

How  Much Does Mobile Game App Development Cost?

Over the recent years, the mobile game industry is catching the hype and constantly booming without showing any sign of going down in the near future. The gaming apps powered with emerging technologies including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and more, have given a brilliant makeover to traditional video games.

With a Covid-19 impact on practically everything right from businesses to lives, economies to countries, the world has greatly changed over the last year. The gaming app industry hasn’t remained untouched with this impact and a large number of new users have constantly logged in to gaming apps to pass time during the lockdown, thereby, providing a huge opportunity to the startups and companies to expand their business. 

With that said, the online gaming industry is snowballing because of its excellent user engagement. In addition, another interesting note here is the rise in multiplayer games. Due to lockdown, gaming has quickly moved the internet with active playing with family and friends and making a whole new space in the field of gaming. 

As the interest increases for multi-player games, it has made it essential for companies and start-ups to put their focus on multiplayer gaming apps. 

The number of mobile app downloads is soaring in 2021 and according to the statista, the annual revenue generated from mobile apps will reach $935 billion by 2025. The surprising fact here is, 22.37% share of the revenue is acquired by the mobile game apps available for both iOS and Android. 

Mobile games are the most downloaded apps in 2019-2020. Undoubtedly, app stores are flooded with thousands of gaming apps but still, there is a scope of achieving success by launching a gaming app with all new concepts especially in the US market.

Let’s take an example, everyone must be familiar with the PUBG mobile and COD; mobile reaching $2.6 billion and $500 billion in revenue in 2020 respectively.

So if you are planning to get started with mobile game app development, then now is the right time to make a decision. If you are still in a doubt, how far the game app development companies have comes in reality, then you need to take a sneak peek of the global mobile game app:

Global Snapshot of Mobile Game App Market

There is no doubt in this fact that emerging technologies and trends are reshaping the mobile game industry to the next level. Thereby, the mobile gaming market has expanded from being the smaller represented section in 2012 to become a 100 dollar industry in 2021

In just a span of a decade, the growth of mobile game revenue will outpace the overall games market and 59% of the entire gaming market will be generated from smartphone and tablet games. 

According to the survey, both PC and console games have shown steady growth over the past few years expected to generate $67 billion and capture 49% of the market share. 

As per AppAnnie, there has been a significant demand for multiplayer gaming apps such as Word With Friends 2, Magic Tiles 3, Call of Duty: Mobile and more. 

March Q2 2020 has turned out to be the biggest week for mobile game downloads at a record of 1.2 billion downloads

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Image Source

Since, the world is swiftly moving towards multiplayer games, though startups and companies from all across the globe are grabbing this opportunity to develop their apps and become a part of this thriving industry.

In the Nutshell: With that said, if you have finally made up your mind to hire a mobile app developer to create a gaming app, the first thought that may cross your mind is how much mobile game app development will cost you? 

Well, this article has covered every parameter that affects the cost of mobile game app development…

Let’s get started!

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Mobile Game App?

Ask the development team what exactly you will be getting in return for USD 15000 to USD 25,000. I’m sure they have no straightforward answer for you as there are a number of factors influencing the app development cost.

But the surprising fact here is, the development cost of mobile game apps is higher than the development cost of traditional apps. Now the question is how much more it costs compared to the regular apps. 

Hereby traditional apps, I’m referring to messaging apps, finance apps, on-demand apps, social media apps and more.

So why do gaming apps cost you more than the other apps? The fact is gaming apps are much more complex programming, designing and planning. But the range of the app development cost for mobile games is vast. 

The expert app development company always recommends entrepreneurs to keep in mind their requirements and be ready for the upfront cost of the mobile app games as they require high maintenance and regular updates. 

Important Parameters That Can Affect The Game App Development Cost and Quality

While the mobile game app industry has taken the center stage in recent years, the mobile game development cost is a big question that interests everyone who wants to break into this million dollar market. In general, the cost range can be started from USD 17,500 and can go to any expensive price up to USD 50,000+. But it is unlikely to be an unreasonable answer to your question. So before you get straight into the process of hiring an app developer, get to know the real app development cost estimations by penetrating deeper into each parameter contributing to the game app development process and cost.

Let’s jump in and try to form logical and clear expectations about the mobile game app development cost

  • App Platform Can Make a Great Difference
  • Mobile App Game Type: 2D or 3D Games?
  • Simple Player or Multiplayer
  • Pre-Development Cost
  • Game App Testing
  • Cost To Hire App Developers
  • Post-App Development Cost

Let’s do an in-depth mobile game development cost breakdown and have a look at each parameter in more detail.

  • Choice of Platform: iOS/Android/Web

Defining the mobile game app development cost starts with the choice of operating platform which includes Android, iOS, or Cross platform type. The way you think about where you want to launch your app will directly impact the development cost. 

Usually integrating the payment system and admin panel to the iOS app is more expensive than Android as a large number of restrictions are applied in the app store. And despite having a huge variety of Android devices with different sizes and capacities, the development cost is the least expensive on Android. 

However, if you want it to run on the older Android versions then, the Android app development cost will be slightly higher.

On average the development cost of the iOS solution is 10-20% higher than of Android. Let’s say if the game app for Android costs USD 15,000 then its structure for iOS will cost about USD 20,000+.

To minimize the app development cost, you can choose a cross-platform app development solution that is suitable for both platforms. By leveraging the benefits of top cross-platform app development frameworks including Flutter, React Native or Xamarin, you can create a game app that seamlessly runs on multiple platforms and help you target wise segments of users on both Android and iOS platforms. The average cost to develop a cross-platform app will be in between USD 15,000 to USD 20,0000+.

  • Mobile App Game Type and Complexity: 2D or 3D Games?

With the availability of a wide choice of gaming apps in the app store, it always becomes challenging to decide what type of app you want to build. Here the expert option is to understand your budget and hire the app developers that suits the requirement. 

While it comes to getting on the ground of the type and functionality of the gaming app, basically you have a choice between 2D and 3D game app development.

Simple 2D games such as Pacman, sudoku, Flappy Bird, Red Ball and more can be developed for under USD 3000 to USD 7000+ as it has simple UI/UX design. But, the cost of complex versions of 2D games with additional features and functionalities will be starting from USD 15,000 to USD 25,000+.

Comparatively, 3D games are costlier than the 2D game development as they comprise more complex codings and designings. So the cost to build 3D game apps will range anywhere between USD 20,000 to 25,000 and can go to USD 50,000+, depending upon the complexity of the app. 

Apart, different applications have different level of complexity, so based on the app complexity, the mobile game apps can be categorized as: 

Game App Type Description Crucial Note Use Cases
Mini Game Mini-games are simple solitary games that do not require any specific skills to play. Simple 2D Interface, Primitive Gameplay, Mobile or Browser based Temple Run, Subway Surfers, Ping Pong
Small App Small apps or Casual 2D games are small budget games that integrate basic 2D graphics and engaging soundtracks. Despite being simple 2D game apps, they offer a great user engagement rate and opportunity for scale-up. 2D or 3D Interface, Several Levels, In-App purchases, Single Player, Pairing friends Red Ball, simple puzzle game
Social Game Apps Social games are played by multiple users on popular social sites. These games use limited user data and are about the same as browser games. 2D graphics, Sound Effects, Simple and Fast to Run Farmville
Mid-Level Games Mid-level games have different levels, characters, rich visuals and more. The high-end UX/UI design of these levels of games increases the chance of keeping the player engaged with the app longer. Complex storyline, Built-in mini-games, Sound effects, appealing visual interface Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Flappy Birds
Large Level Large levels of apps are developed to engage a group of people and basically target business. These are the multiplayer games that can be used as the internal tool to enhance communication, encourage creativity and make the overall work environment more fun and engaging. Multiplayers, Storyline, high quality graphics, animation, game levels, soundtracks, and cross-platform compatibility Hay Day, Clash of Clans
AAA- Level Game AAA-level games are highly complex and advanced level game apps. To build these types of games, you need to have careful strategies, detailed comprehension and exceptional design. Developing a high level of the game would take more than 9 months to complete. Breathtaking realistic graphics and animations, Inspiring soundtracks, addictive gameplay, rich functionality and intuitive game controls PUBG, GTA, NFL
  • Simple Player or Multiplayer

Since multiplayer game apps are trending in the gaming market, though most startups prefer hiring mobile app developers to create multiplayer mobile game apps. Single-player game apps are simple to play and majorly accessed by the kids, though it makes sense to consider a multiplayer app that has features like internet capabilities, voice integration, chat and more.

Multiplayer games usually fall under the high-level app categories though it can be a little more expensive than other app types. So whether they need any pre-developments and what it will cost you?

  • Pre-Development Cost

Let’s say when you want to build a multiplayer game like PUBG, where the player has a choice to develop their character, complete missions, and play with other players you will be expecting it to cost somewhere USD 15,000 to 18,000 to build. But there are several other things involved that add up to the pre-development cost of the app, such as :

  • Storyboard
  • Define Game Levels
  • GamePlay
  • Game Environment
  • Target Users
  • Plot and characters

The pre-development stage of your app will take up from 50 hours to 500+ hours and can cost up to USD 2000 to 5000.

  • Cost To Hire App Developers

To build a gaming app like PUBG or Angry Birds you need an app development team composed of a Business analyst, Project manager, Quality Assurance expert, UX/UI designer, iOS developer, Android app developer and marketing specialist. But before you get into the process of hiring a gaming app development company, check out their hourly cost.

The hourly cost of the developers can greatly vary depending upon the skills, expertise and geolocation. Usually, it is starting from USD 20 per hour in India and can react to USD 100/hr in the USA. The hourly cost of the developer is majorly dependent upon the location. 

  • Game App Testing

When it comes to mobile game apps, the testing process is as important as high quality development. Gamers have no patience to tolerate the bugs in the game. Since nobody likes slow and buggy games, though it is important to hire the game app quality assurance engineer that tests your app on different platforms to make it run smoothly and ensure a rich user experience. 

Usually, when you outsource an app development company, they would offer testing services as a part of their entire project lifecycle. But still, you need to keep some budget aside for the app testing. The per-hour developer’s cost is starting from USD 18 to 25 depending upon the complexity and type of the project.

  • Post Development Cost

While post app development services are optional, it is a worthy move to avail these services from the same mobile app development company that has developed your game. The same development team better knows ins and outs of your game, so they will better provide you tailored services. 

To make your app run smoothly after the launch, it is important to keep updating, testing and maintaining the app. It will cost 25% of your total project cost. 

Mobile App Game Development Final Cost : Under $3,000 and $100,000!

With that said, if you have observed, we have mentioned at the starting of the blog, that game app development costs can range between USD 17,500 to 50,000+. So what you will get if you will go for the lowest budget and highest app development budget.

Here’s the mobile game app development cost conclusion for you:

Game App Development That Costs $17,500+ Game App Development That Costs $50,000+
Developed in the country, where developers’ hourly cost is lowest (Asia, India, UAE etc.)Customized and developed the app in the country where the team is available with expensive hourly rates (United States, Canada, Western Europe etc.)
Only one or two beginner level of experts are engaged on the project with limited toolsA highly skilled and large team of professionals are engaged on the project such as– designers, composers, backend and frontend developers, mobile developers, QA engineers, etch with min 5+ yrs of industry experience.
Created either for one platform or cross-platform using React Native, Flutter, Unity, or Unreal Engine (i.e. when you are targeting multiple platforms with a single app developed with a cross-platform framework)Native iOS and Android apps as well as major consoles, desktops, and other platforms. The game also can sync across devices providing a seamless gaming experience to the players. They are dedicated to developing a single platform to ensure a seamless experience.
Simple UX/UI design, fewer functionalities and single playerWorks flawlessly and is continuously updated with bug fixes that are found along the way and ensuring rich visuals, soundtracks, multiplayer and more.
There are no levels at all or the levels are simple and there is no story behind the game.Involves multi-levels and characters that have their own unique designs, which retain the player’s interest throughout the game and increase the chance of getting popular.
No animations are user and single soundtrackEach character and part of the game is highly animated in a custom way, with special effects and sounds that are created with this particular game and story in mind.
Available in one local language or EnglishUsers can choose from a number of native languages and the app’s features are localized making it available to a wider public.

What is the Monetization Strategy For Mobile Game Apps?

So finally, you hire the best software development company for the project and invest a great budget on the game app development project. But how are you planning to make a profit from your investment?

According to the statista, the most popular app monetization and business models are:

  • Subscription Plans: Since a game can earn $0.99 per month, though, a lot of startups choose to offer monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription plans where a gamer can unlock further levels.
  • Freemium: The game is free to download, install and play but the freemium package will provide access to special features that are restricted with free apps. 
  • In-App Purchases: Your game might be either free/premium, but there are certain features that can be purchased for real money. 
  • In-App Advertising: Least liked monetizing methods. No gamer has such patience to tolerate advertisements in between their games. So make use of this strategy very carefully as it can increase the app abandon rate as well.

Conclusion

With tremendous growth scope in mobile game app development, undoubtedly many startups and companies have started planning to launch their own game app to attract millions of users that help in making million dollars. But to make sure that your game app follows the market trends, fulfils the market needs and integrates advanced technologies to deliver an excellent user experience. Hence, it makes sense to hire a mobile app development company that builds a game app delivering extraordinary features and a fantastic gaming experience to the gamers.

Hopefully, this blog has provided you an idea about the development cost of mobile game app in detail. If you still have any doubt, then you can Contact Us and get a free cost estimation for your app.

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About Author
Aman Malhotra
Aman Malhotra

Aman is a business consultant and strategic leader bridging the gap between technology and client satisfaction. With 15+ years of knowledge, innovation and hands-on experience in providing consultations to startups, agencies, SME's and large enterprises who need dedicated development and technology partners. He has also lead to the delivery of countless web development and mobile app development projects with 100% client satisfaction.

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