Crowfall’s Raph Koster goes into insane depth on the cost of creating video games


If you have an exceptional memory, you might recall that a couple of months ago, Crowfall and Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster wrote up a blog post on the cost of making games. The MMO expert followed that up this week with a much, much more detailed presentation that attempts to show hard data to back up his claims.

Koster said that he used industry contacts and other research to assemble data from over 250 games made from 1985 to today that shows the development cost minus the money spent on marketing. He even goes so far as to break down the cost of dollars per developed byte of information, which is where he sees costs for game falling. He said that when you look at it this way, players are getting a “deal” for games these days.

“Lots of people have made the observation that in terms of raw purchasing power, players pay around half of what they used to in the ’80s,” he notes.

It’s interesting to pore over the graphs to see trends in costs while soaking in the fact that costs to make games are trending skyward. Koster said that people also need to keep in mind how marketing costs can vastly impact a game’s budget, with a AAA game’s advertising taking up 75 to 100% of its development cost.

Koster predicts that in about 10 years, the average player payment for a game will be free, AAA title costs will average out at $200M, and more system-driven games like e-sports, roguelikes, and simulation titles will emerge on the scene. More multiplayer focus is inevitable, he says, as players are content for each other, which means that developers will need to design games as service and “embrace procedurality.”

Source: Raph Koster
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