In short, I want to start a game company. I do not have much coding experience (just basic understanding and ability to write basic programs), any graphics design experience, any audio mixing experience, or whatever else technical. However, I do have a lot of ideas, great analytical skills and a very logical approach to life. I do not have any friends who are even remotely technical (or creative in regards to games for that matter).

So now that we've cleared that up, my question is this: how much, minimally, would it cost me to start such a company? I know that a game could be developed in under half a year, which means it would have to operate for half a year prior, and that's assuming that the people working on the first project do their jobs good, don't leave game breaking bugs, a bunch of minor bugs, etc.. So how much would it cost me, and what would be the likely profit in half a year? I'm looking at minimal costs here, as to do it, I would have to sell my current apartment and buy a new, smaller one, pay taxes, and likely move to US/CA/UK to be closer to technologically advanced people (and be able to speak the language of course).

EDIT: I'm looking at a small project for starters, not a huge AAA title.

| improve this question | | | | |
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this question has a clear answer. It depends on what kind of project you'd do, how many people you have to pay (and how much), maybe licenses for engines, music, whatever, unexpected expenses... Personally, I'd first try developing a game or two by myself or maybe with a remote team as a hobby. If you have little to no experience in game programming, game design, project management or anything else, founding a company seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. \$\endgroup\$ – Christian Sep 11 '12 at 18:32
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't answer your question, but is definitely the better advice: don't. Don't sell your place and move and hire people to make your game. It is extremely likely that you won't succeed and will lose A LOT of money. Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. Your ideas are near worthless (sorry!), but your hard work is what will make you succeed. LEARN how to code, draw, mix sound or FIND people willing to help you for free. Just start making a game, that's all that matters in the beginning. Worry about location, expenses, etc. later. Just start making games. \$\endgroup\$ – Amplify91 Sep 11 '12 at 18:32
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ As people say: Ideas are cheap - everybode has them. What counts is execution, and getting your feet wet before selling your apartment and starting a company is strongly advised. This is not meant to discourage you or anything, just well meant advise. \$\endgroup\$ – Christian Sep 11 '12 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the other comments, but I'm also curious why you're so confident that you can develop a game in "under half a year", when you admit to having little or no experience in any of the practical aspects of game development. That seems a bit optimistic. \$\endgroup\$ – postgoodism Sep 11 '12 at 18:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you can't find a job that pays more than your costs you need to develop yourself further. Try taking a few evening-courses. Try teaching yourself a few useful game related skills and built a portfolio. With more knowledge and skills you're worth more and can get a better job (or get a raise) and then the saving and building your own company can begin. Also, and it's been said before, but I can't emphasis it enough. Ideas are worthless, execution is everything! \$\endgroup\$ – Roy T. Sep 11 '12 at 19:46

This is mostly an unanswerable question, but I'll go through some of the things you mention.

You don't have any useful skills to bring to the table - sorry to be blunt - so you basically have to bankroll the enterprise if you want anybody to take you seriously.

Your main cost is the people you need to employ. Unless you know what sort of game you're going to make, you're not going to know how many people you need, so that hinders things somewhat. But I'll assume you can make the game you want to make with 1 programmer and 1 artist.

According to the Game Developer 2011 Game Industry Salary Survey you'd expect to pay a programmer about $7750 a month and artists about $6300. Most developers can be hired for significantly less than that - but with a small team, you probably can't afford to gamble on junior people. So that's almost $85,000 on salary for six months - not including paying yourself. Perhaps you can save a few thousand on less experienced developer, but there are other roles such as sound, music, web developer, etc, so I don't imagine you'll be able to do it much more cheaply than that.

You may be able to get away without spending money on an office and have people work from home instead, but you'll probably have to spend on technology and infrastructure - this could be anything from next to nothing to maybe $5000 for a few engine licenses, app approval fees and developer network fees, server hosting, IT support, etc.

Then you'll need some sort of publicity for the game. That means advertising campaigns, marketing, PR, etc. I would expect to spend several thousand on that if you mean business.

So, I would estimate the costs for you to be roughly in the area of $100,000.

How much profit would you make? Well, most games don't make a profit. One survey of iOS games said the average revenue was $165,121, so you might expect profit of $65,000. Unfortunately revenue is not distributed normally across all games - and in fact the median revenue was $2,400, meaning you might more commonly expect to lose about $97,000. So it's a very risky gamble.

I would suggest learning a technical skill so that you can contribute directly to your game and decrease your salary costs. It also means you can work on the game while otherwise employed, and then only take the company full time when the game is released and successful - if it ever reaches that point.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ Woah! Most jobs here pay $7750 or less A YEAR! Selling my apartment and buying a new, ~15m^2 would make me around $15.000-20.000. That's mighty costly for an INDIE game, ~$100.000... As for technical skills, explained in the comments above, unfortunately I'm too bad at programming due to not liking definitive rules and regulations for using defined syntax, algorithms, common practices, etc.. I'm more of a management and ideas guy, and I do it pretty good if we can include a game server which went above servers that been there for years in a month. Anyway, thanks for the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Sep 11 '12 at 19:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, most jobs here in the UK pay a bit less than that, maybe something like 60-80% as much, but the USA is the main centre of game development so I used those figures. If you can use cheaper labour elsewhere (eg. Eastern Europe, or Asia) then that's an option, but you mentioned US/CA/UK specifically. \$\endgroup\$ – Kylotan Sep 11 '12 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yea, I live in Eastern Europe, however, as mentioned above, I've failed to find people who are even remotely knowledgeable/interested in creating a video game. And that was country-wide, not city-wide. Newspapers, and close to 10 internet sites at least remotely related to technology/games/etc.. That's why I've mentioned US/CA/UK in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Sep 11 '12 at 19:18
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that what a job pays is not nearly what it costs to employ someone. \$\endgroup\$ – Roy T. Sep 11 '12 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Guess it depends on the skill level and mindset (where you live) for your statement @RoyT. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Sep 11 '12 at 20:04

We are on the same boat. I'm from Philippines Manila I also wanted to start a game dev company. Right now we formed 3 to 4 investors each of us will contribute time, laptop, a game engine as of the moment. Each one of us also has proficiencies. Artist, programmers, management, and a fund manager. I am a fund manager I'm a former bank employee so I know how to invest big money so that we could earn monthly income.basically you don't need to spend too much or big money like what I said each one of us will contribute.

If you want to start get at least 3 persons or close friends that you can work with no need to spend huge money just invest what you have.

Right now we acquire a new laptop, a drawing tablet, and soon we get game engine, servers and web hosting just a cheap one.

I only knew basic coding since my team is studying game devt course.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question was about how much an indie company would cost; you haven't really answered it. Please consider editing your answer after re-reading the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricket Oct 3 '12 at 13:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.