I'm planning to create a game on my own and will most likely hire an artist in the future. I just want to know if making a game in 2d will a lot cheaper than making it on 3d?

Here's my plan:

If it will be a 2d game.. I'll probably make a platform game. More like a Braid level of graphics.

If it will be a 3d game.. Closest of graphics I'll ask for will be far cry 1 or if possible oblivion.

So any thoughts? I'm funding all of it on my own. It will be my first game but will use maybe an engine around if it will be a 3d game. If 2d, I have my own engine lying around here.

Thank you, Balls

  • \$\begingroup\$ Depends on how much your artist charges. The cost of the assets should be lower on your list of priorities. Just because you have high quality assets doesn't mean you'll have the engine to properly display them. I don't think this question is a good fit for the site, too localized and not constructive. \$\endgroup\$
    – MichaelHouse
    Sep 28 '12 at 14:43

To answer your question, here are some factor of assets cost, as a factor of time, skill and quality of the resulting art.

To make sense, shall we quantify that we are talking about a single asset. A game character.

The pricing will differ greatly, not between 3d & 2d, it will differ between professional experienced artists and skilful amateurs. It will also differ if you decide to use outsourcing.

Now, lets look at 2D vs. 3D, again, the cost will differ a lot based on the amount of animation the character requires, more animation = more work. That being said, it is generally less time consuming to animate in 3d because of advanced software that offers tools like bones. When animating a 2d character, the artist has to in most cases(unless using cut-out style rotating limbs) render each frame of animation by hand, that is a very time consuming process. Generally per character, it is nearly completely obvious from a technical perspective that building one 3d character with basic animations, is more expansive than one 2d character in the same 'league' of quality. Why is that?

Well, when building a 3d character, you need to construct a model, create a uv-map, paint a texture, rig the bones and then animate it. Since it is 3d, it has to look good from every angle, so a lot more thought and work has to be put into examining the model from various angles while animating and constructing it. Also, because of the technical aspects of UV-mapping and rigging - bones, certain software related issues could rear their ugly head and the artist will have to face these technical issues.

You can normally only see 2d characters from one angle, so that is worked out, there is no use of advance software need to create classic animation. That said, animating something like King Of Fighters takes great mastery, knowledge and dedication.

So the short answer is yes, 3d is more pricey in terms of work hours. high level 2d animation is also very pricy. The previous two comments are less prevalent than the choice between outsourcing vs. working with someone in the same office and the choice between taking on someone who has proven experience vs. a skilled amateur. The most important variable is the scale of the project. Also, remember that if you take a 3d-modeler you would probably have to hire a level designer as well, cause a professional character modeler might is not very likely interested to be involved at all in level design. A 2d artist that can design characters well is likely a reliable source for background art too.

I suggest you ask several artists and compare their proposals.

Good luck.


In context you described, 3D assets do cost a lot more then 2D assets, because you need more assets for a 3D RPG game then you need for a 2D platform game.

I'm a big fan of 2D graphics, as what artist creates is what a player sees. It's much harder to create a 3D game with contrast and beauty on similar level to 2D games. That's why creating a 2D-like game in 3D technology is more expensive, but not always.

I'm creating a 2,5 D game, where camera is in fixed position above action (satellite-like view, same as in GTA 1 & 2). I found an artist that made character vector animations for a flash strategy game in a similar view setup. The price per sprite-sheet was very high. Later, when I decided that I need a different feel (not pixelart, not vector, but 3D with lights and shadows) I managed to find a talented 3D artist, and his animations were of better quality, and much cheaper! The reason is number of animations I requested.

When buying 2D assets, you pay for:

  • design
  • every frame of animation drawn

When buying 3D assets, you pay for:

  • design
  • model (mesh, or however 3D professionals call it)
  • rig (skeleton, or again, however pr0s name it)
  • animations

The thing is, that price of an animation isn't high; if you have a lot of them, cost of everything else becomes less significant, and you can even afford motion capture for similar price as 2D graphics of worse quality. True story.


There is no connection between the amount of money required to develop something and the "number of dimensions used", so your question can't be answered and it's only misleading because you are not even focusing on the assets themselves but only on the money.

There is also no connection between how much you will invest and how much you can make, there are games that are reasonably cheap but very successful and viceversa.


3D assets rely on 2D assets. You texture 3D models with 2D textures. 3D mesh is what defines the shape in 3D, 2D textures are what define the color of the 3d objects faces.

3D will usually cost more than 2D, but it depends on the quality of the 3D asset. You can color 3D faces without referencing a 2D texture from an image, but this doesn't really look good. 3D also adds another dimension to your game/application logic, so if you need to to vector math you're now not only calculating X and Y, but also Z.

I feel like in order to have successful 3D assets you need quality 2D assets as well. A UV-map is just an image that is mapped to the 3D model.

You should also consider, 2D can be processed to appear 3D. You can use normal or bump mapping to accomplish this. Example, this is done using 2D assets assisted by a normal map which depicts how the light should behave over a texture.


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