The Game Plan: Creating A Budget

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Now that you’ve designed a plan for your game and you’ve figured out whether or not you’ll be programming it yourself it’s time to make your budget.

At first you might be thinking, why do I need a budget? I can make a game for free! The answer to this is, yes, you can, however you still need a strategy on how to accomplish it. Consider some of the following things you’ll need to make your game:

  • Domain Name
  • Hosting/Servers
  • Graphics
  • Music
  • 3D Models
  • Level Editors
  • Tooling
  • IDEs
  • Graphic software
  • Music software
  • 3D software
  • Software licenses
  • Better computer
  • Upgraded graphics card
  • Bigger computer monitor
  • External speakers
  • Quality headphones

Sit down and map out all of the expenses you foresee as being necessary to complete your game. To make it easy, you can create a chart with all of the things you’ll need for your game, how many of them, the cost per each and then the total cost. Try something like this table below which budgets out a small game being designed by 3 developers.

Item Amount Cost Per Each Total Cost
Domain Name 1 $25 a year $25 a year
Servers 3 $5 a month $15 a month
Graphics 40 per level (3 levels) $15 each graphic $1,800
Music 15 songs $50 per song $750
3D Models 6 characters $250 per character $15 a month
Sound Forge Licenses 3 $50 $150
WallabyJS 3 $100 $300
Adobe Cloud Licenses 3 $30 a month $90 a month
Unity Plus License 3 $35 a month $105 a month
Mac Book Pro 1 $1,800 $1,800
Google Drive Storage Upgrade 3 $10 a month $30 a month
One Time Costs: $4,800
Monthly Costs: $255
Yearly Cost: $25
 1 Year Total Development Costs: $7,885
5 Year Total Development Costs: $20,225

Take your total costs and figure out your one time costs, monthly expenses, and yearly expenses. Now figure out how much it would cost for a year of development, now factor for five years of development time. You can see how quickly your small game goes from something reasonable to something extremely expensive.

If you can’t afford to spend this amount of money on your game then you need to go back to your concept and re-work it until you get a budget that you can manage, especially if your game will require multiple years of development effort.

If you’re really determined to stick with your original concept and can’t trim anything more out of your budget then you can look for some outside investors. One thing to keep in mind, most investors want to see a working demo or extensive documentation of your game before they’ll even consider opening their pocketbooks. Typically investors will demand more than 50% of whatever profits you make from your game and will want reports on your progress and continuous demos throughout the life cycle of your game until it hits completion and then again after it’s running. Reporting to your investors will cut into your time and your profits so this is just something to consider if you want to go that route.