I was idly warbling away to fans on the Steam Community forums today when I had a little think about some of the facts and figures involved in making games. When I read it back to myself I realised it was actually pretty fascinating reading for people outside of the industry (that is, the players of our games). There were some amusing estimates of how much effort goes into making games from the fans, so here are the facts and figures for you all to see, and hopefully, tweet, reblog, and comment about, until all children are suitably scared in their beds and night and vow never to want to becomes games developers ever again, and some sort of massive JUST SAY NO style meme floods the internets and makes it to the very top of Reddit’s wonderfully insular and self-referential news pages.
Ultratron took 24 man months to develop, or if you want to put a financial figure on it, about $120k at ordinary salary rates. Ultratron has so far made a loss of $100k.
Titan Attacks took approximately the same amount of time. Titan Attacks has just broken even after 7 years, so that’s cause for a can of lager in celebration.
Droid Assault took quite a bit longer – about 36 man months, or $180k ish. Droid Assault has so far made a loss of about $120k.
Revenge of the Titans took about 7 man-years to develop, or about $420k. It’s only just broken even. Sandbox mode took 12 man-months and has so far cost us $56k. It is unlikely to ever break even.
For most of the last 10 years, I subsidised all the development of the games by working as a menial contractor in the IT industry and effectively putting every spare hour of my life into them. We started seriously in 2002. It wasn’t until 2010 that we actually made enough money to buy anything more than a celebratory curry!
So now you know why a) you don’t really want to be an indie game developer if you can help it and b) why we’re not making any more arcade games
* probably. Unless a genius can think of some way we can make them for about a tenth the cost that’s palateable.