• # Gohar Aslam
  • # App Development
  • # 21 October, 2023

Understanding the Price Tag: How Much Does Game App Development Cost?

Mobile game development involves creating games for smartphones and tablets. It requires knowledge of programming languages such as Java, C++, and Unity, as well as game engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine. The development process includes conceptualization, design, programming, testing, and deployment on apps like Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Before initiating mobile game development, evaluating the game app development cost is essential

The revenue of the mobile gaming industry is expected to reach over $173 billion. The massive growth in gaming users has also spurred growth in the mobile gaming industry. These developments have created countless fruitful opportunities for businesses wanting to outsource game development and invest in mobile gaming development for a target audience. 

When it comes to the assessment of the mobile game development cost, the answer is complex. Numerous factors affect mobile game development costs. Our article highlights key determinants influencing mobile game app development costs. Read the article to know more. 

Types of Mobile Games

These are the most common types of mobile games, but there are many other sub-genres and combinations of game types. To evaluate the game app development cost, getting acquainted with the types of mobile games is better.

  • Arcade Games: Simple games that are easy to pick up and play, often with fast-paced action.
  • Strategy Games: Games that require players to think critically and make decisions to achieve a goal.
  • Puzzle Games: Games that challenge players to solve puzzles and brain teasers.
  • Role-playing Games (RPGs): These are games where players create characters and embark on a journey in a virtual world.
  • Simulation Games: These games simulate real-life situations like running a restaurant or managing a virtual city.
  • Sports Games: These games simulate various sports, such as football, basketball, or golf.
  • Casual Games: These simple games are easy to play and don’t require much time commitment.
  • Action Games: Fast-paced games with intense action, such as shooting games or platformers.
  • Adventure Games: These games take players through a virtual world filled with challenges and obstacles.
  • Battle Royale Games: Multiplayer games where players fight to be the last ones standing on a shrinking map.

Key Features of Mobile Game Development

Key Features of Mobile Game Development

The following is a list of key features of mobile games. These are some of the most common features found in mobile apps, and they also play a crucial role in determining the game app development cost. 

  • User Accounts: User accounts allow players to create and manage their in-game profile, including profile details, progress, and achievements.
  • In-App Purchases: A system for players to purchase virtual items or currency within the game using real money.
  • Push Notifications: Push notifications are a mechanism for sending notifications to players about game events, updates, or other relevant information.
  • Social Media Integration: Integration with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allows players to share their progress, invite friends, and compare scores.
  • Multiplayer Support: Multiple players can play the game online or through a local network.
  • Leaderboards: It is a system to track and display players’ highest scores or achievements, either globally or among friends.
  • User Engagement: It has features to keep players engaged and returning to the game, such as daily challenges, events, and rewards.
  • Game Center Integration: It integrates with Apple’s Game Center for iOS devices to allow players to challenge friends and compare scores.
  • Analytics and Monetization Tools: Tools for tracking player behavior and monetization performance include in-game purchases, ad revenue, and retention metrics.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: It allows the players to play the game on multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, and PC.
  • Virtual Currencies: Virtual currencies or rewards that can be earned through gameplay or purchase and used to unlock new content or power-ups.
  • Advertising Support: This feature allows the display ads within the game to generate revenue and support free-to-play games.

Determinants of the Game App Development Cost  

Various factors can influence mobile game development costs. These factors can be crucial in increasing or decreasing the game development cost estimation 

  • Game Genre: The type of game also affects the game app development cost. A mini-game or a puzzle will cost much less than a 3D mobile game or RPG, which includes numerous characters and complex levels. 
  • Type of Game: Simple 2D games with basic graphics and features can cost less than complex 3D games with advanced features, animations, and graphics.
  • Development Team Size: The larger the development team, the higher the cost. The development team typically includes game developers, designers, artists, and QA specialists.
  • Platform: The development cost for iOS may be higher than for Android, or vice versa, and the cost can also be different for developing both platforms.
  • Location: The geographical location of the development team can significantly impact the development cost. For example, the development cost in North America or Western Europe is usually higher than in developing in Asia or Eastern Europe.
  • Customization: The more unique features and customization a game has, the more the development cost will be.
  • Development Methodology: The cost can also vary based on the methodology used. For example, the Agile development methodology is more flexible and can result in cost savings compared to the traditional Waterfall methodology.
  • Third-Party Tools and Services: Third-party tools and services can also increase the game app development cost.

Stages of Mobile Game Development

Stages of Mobile Game Development

To assess video game development costs, it is essential to know about the various development stages of mobile games. The following are the standard steps involved in mobile app game development.  

  • Conceptualization: Define the game idea, genre, target audience, and unique selling points.
  • Market Research: Study the competition, current trends, and target audience preferences.
  • Game Design: Create a game design document, including the game mechanics, user interface, and levels.
  • Technical Feasibility: Evaluate the technical requirements and resources needed to develop the game.
  • Budget and Time Frame: Establish a realistic budget and timeline for development, testing, and release.
  • Development Team: Assemble a team of developers, artists, and designers to work on the project.
  • Prototype Development: Create a prototype of the game to test its mechanics and get feedback.
  • Playtesting: Conduct playtests to gather feedback and make improvements to the game.
  • Final Development: Complete the final development, including coding, art, and music.
  • Quality Assurance: Test the game thoroughly to identify and fix bugs and ensure a smooth user experience.
  • Launch and Marketing: Plan the game’s launch and marketing efforts to reach the target audience.
  • Post-Launch: Monitor the game’s performance and gather feedback to continue improving it.

Types & Costs of Mobile Game App Development

Types & Costs of Mobile Game App Development

1. Simple 2D Games

These games cost around $50,000 to $100,000. The success of these games depends too. Games like Red Ball and Stack were able to hit high. They require more professional development because they are one step above the basic games.

2. Mildly Complex Games

Angry Birds took a start right from here. They cost around $100,000 to up to $700,000. Its range is vast, and it involves various social and business games.

The social games on Facebook, like Farmville, cost around $100,000 up to $250,000. These games comprise the initial sphere of the mildly complex games and have more intense graphics, ploy, characters, and languages. Business games are also trending in the market. These games are multiplayer and are usually created to enhance the positive environment of the offices, and it improves connectivity and thus leads to more productivity eventually.

Such games cost exorbitantly, demanding highly skilled developers to create cross-platform interactions and complex animation. They cost around $250,000 to $550,000. Enterprises usually use these games to brand the company. 

3. Highly Complex Games

These games cost the most, ranging from $400,000 to $1,000,000. The investments are risky, but the rewards are also huge – if you hit the right audience in the right way. Also, it requires years to be completed. Angry Bird’s later releases were highly complex games, and the graphics and the vibe set used high technicalities.

Actual Game App Development Cost

The game app development cost can vary widely depending on factors such as the complexity of the game, the platform (iOS or Android), the development team size, the development team’s location, and the duration of the development process. A rough estimate for a basic mobile game can range from $10,000 to $500,000, while a complex, high-end mobile game can cost upwards of $1 million or more. On average, the cost of developing a basic 2D mobile game can range from $5,000 to $30,000, while the cost of developing a complex 3D game can range from $100,000 to $500,000 or more.

Understanding the project scope and budget before starting the development process is essential to avoid unexpected costs. The exact cost will depend on the specific requirements of the project.

Marketing Costs and Strategies

Marketing is essential because it helps businesses promote their products or services, reach and engage with their target audience, create brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and drive sales and revenue. You can promote your app on iOS and Android through marketing and social media campaigns. By effectively marketing your mobile games, you can increase your visibility, create demand for your products, and establish a strong brand identity that sets them apart in the marketplace. 

You must allocate a sufficient budget for your marketing strategies when calculating the game app development costs. On average, game developers give between 10% and 50% of their budget for marketing, although some may spend even more. Additionally, you can promote your mobile games by implementing the following strategies.

  • App Store Optimization (ASO): Optimize your game’s app store listing to increase its visibility and search ranking on app stores.
  • Influencer Marketing: Partner with gaming influencers to promote your game through video tutorials, social media posts, and live streaming sessions.
  • User Acquisition Campaigns: Run targeted ad campaigns to drive downloads and installs of your game.
  • Referral and Incentivized Programs: Encourage existing players to refer their friends to download the game and reward them.
  • Cross-Promotion: Collaborate with other game developers to cross-promote each other’s games to reach new audiences.
  • Community Building: Create a strong community around your game through forums, social media groups, and in-game events.
  • Content Marketing: Produce engaging game-related content such as tutorials, walkthroughs, and behind-the-scenes features to attract and retain players.
  • Public Relations: Contact media outlets, bloggers, and journalists to generate positive coverage for your game.

Mobile Gaming Industry Growth

Before evaluating the game app development costs, investors and developers will be delighted to know about the accelerated growth in the mobile gaming industry.

The revenue of the mobile games industry is projected to reach US$172.10 billion in 2023. The income is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 6.54%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$221.70bn by 2027. The number of users is expected to amount to 182.0m by 2027. In global comparison, most revenue will be generated in the United States (US$46,070.00m in 2023). In contrast, the most popular mobile games include PUBG Mobile, Pokemon Go, Genshin Impact, Mobile Legends, and Subway Surfers.

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How much does it cost to make a mobile game? 

The game app development costs can vary greatly depending on the scope and complexity of the project. It can range from a few thousand dollars for a simple, single-person project to hundreds or millions for a large, multi-platform game.

How much does it cost to build a 3D mobile game?

The cost of creating a 3D mobile game can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the game’s complexity, the number of features, the size of the development team, the length of the development cycle, and the geographic location of the development team. A rough estimate is between $50,000 to $500,000 or more.

How much time is required to build a mobile game?

A simple app could take several weeks to a few months to develop, while a more complex app could take several months to a year or more.  

How much does it cost to develop an app for iOS?

Basic iOS app development can average from $10,000 to $50,000, while more complex apps with advanced functionality can cost $100,000 or more. Factors like design, development time, and additional services can influence the final cost.

Why is developing an app considered expensive?

Developing an app can be expensive due to several factors. These include the need for skilled developers and designers, the complexity of coding and testing, and the integration of various features and functionalities. 

Senior Content Writer
Gohar Aslam
Coding Pixel

Gohar is a seasoned IT writer specializing in leading technologies. He holds a Diploma and Bachelor's degree from the University of London, with professional experience spanning over five years in the IT sector. His expertise involves a keen focus on mobile applications, web apps, blockchain, content management systems, e-commerce, and fintech. Beyond the professional field, Gohar is an avid reader and reads extensively about emerging and innovative technologies.