A friend and I are building a game together and having a great time with it, and we hope to sell the product at some point. The prospects for actual earnings maybe be practically nil (and we aren't getting our expectations up), but regardless, we wanted to get some of the hard "profit splitting" questions out of the way.

Originally, my feeling was that we are both putting a full time effort into the game and would split the profits evenly. I am a programming and his role would be art and music/sound. Game design and concept generation is something we are both doing together. This has become complicated, as we are now looking at "hiring" a few other interested parties and we want to split any profit up fairly. We were looking at perhaps hiring another artist, and perhaps a sound person. We are not sure at this point what level of commitment our hired hands will be willing or able to commit.


Our idea was to make a very large list of all tasks that need to be done across all categories (programming, marketing, art, sound, research, design, etc) and assign weighted values to each task based on the time requirement, difficulty/value of skill set required, and importance to the project.

Then, we can assign tasks to our hired hands and as they complete them, they would earn that percent of any profits that came in. My hope is that my original partner and I would divy up the "remaining" profit (the money our hired hands don't earn) equally when all is said and done. There's still a lot of details to work out, but our feelings were to divy things first into broad categories as follows:

14.81% - Marketing (PR, promotional campaigns, website)
3.70% - Post-release support
18.52% - R&D (programming, tool development, engine development)
7.41% - HR (hiring, dealing with any legal stuff, registering for digital distribution, etc)
18.52% - Art (all graphics and animations in the game)
11.11% - Sound (music + SFX)
18.52% - Game Design
7.41% - Production (timesheet management, organizing meetings and project planning)

(The numbers are weird just because the calculated weights worked out that way)

I'm particularly interested in what others who has walked the same path as us feel. For the record, the game is a spin on the real-time strategic genre with a classic 16-bit look and feel.

  1. Is this a sensible approach?
  2. Are the numbers weighted reasonably in your mind? (I'm pushing for more value on game design and a little less on sound, myself)
  3. How should be deal with changing requirements? We are estimating things as best we can currently, but we're all very new at this process, so there are sure to be areas we've over and underestimated.
  4. Any generic advice appreciated!

Thanks everyone!


3 Answers 3


I'm going to suggest the simplest method of all. Take a small cut off the top as founders, 10% between the two of you maybe. Split the remaining 90% equally between anyone who puts in a solid amount of work, including you two in the mix.

Once you start playing games with "your job is only worth 75% of what this other guy did" with a deferred payout on a hobby project you're only asking for bad feelings when what you really need is team spirit.

If you're uncomfortable with that then offer a deferred salary to be taken out of first sales and remove the percentages entirely to make it entirely a business transaction instead of a shared effort.

You're a small team, hobbyists, and all expending effort towards just one game to be sold and not even founding a studio and therefore you need to act like a Volunteer organization and everyone's help is important.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. Spending a lot of time trying to work out the exact percentage of theoretical future profits that everyone should be entitled to is not the best use of your time, nor is there any objective way to decide this 'fairly'. Just do something simple that seems reasonable. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2012 at 2:46

I've personally only experienced working on a project(s) with one other person, but I think I can still offer my two cents.

It seems to me like the only problem with what you're doing is that people will feel like they're being undercut and that you may be 'weighing' the money in your favor. Otherwise, it seems doable, albeit complex.

The classic formula tends to go something like a 40-40-20 split if there's a programmer, artist, and sound designer. Although even this is just the 'general' thing, and by no means a rule of any sort.

So I suppose in summary do whatever the most people on the team want!


I would suggest reduction. Generally break down game development into series of tasks, not abstracted under Marketing or R'n'D umbrella but actually tasks.

For example you already broken HR into: hiring, legal, distribution. You can move further and break following actions: Finding candidates, filtering candidates for interviews, interviewing candidates, handling contracts.

So this example, one person can find and filter candidate for example for programming role, but I guess he won't be interviewing the, existing programmers will interview candidates for programming roles, and existing artists will interview potential artists. This is more accurate way of dealing with tasks I think.

It's somewhat similar to what's some of Agile methodologies use, when features are broken down to functional and non-functional tasks and each assigned points depending on time this task will consume.


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