The high cost of game development and indie game developers

There have been a number of changes in the industry regarding “free to play” games and the development costs that go with them. Games like League of Legends have become an industry standard in MOBA’s, while others like DOTA 2 are taking up more challenging multiplayer experiences. Creating a competition in loyalties between both game titles.

In recent news, Hi-Rez have been on helm of making it big in terms of a “free to play” games. The first-person aspect of Smite, another MOBA that is not only challenging, but also faces up to its significant development costs.
Erez Goren, CEO, has been discussing their risks at Hi-Rez and admitted to personally funded the studio’s game development to the sum of $30 million, while only generating around $10 million in revenue from their earlier titles, Tribes and Global Agenda.

“The first and most important thing to note is that MOST games fail (remember that most people tend to remember the ones that did well), SOME games break even, and a tiny number of games are very successful. That’s the nature of the gaming industry. So for every WoW, LoL, CoD, and TF2 there are hundreds of games that are dead,” said Goren.

“Global Agenda was our first game and it lost a lot of money. It was not a total loss since we did build significant technology and platforms that would help us develop our next games (Tribes & Smite). We continued to fund Global Agenda for more than a year after it was released and losing money, we continued to create content and new features but no matter how much work we did the user base kept declining.”

Hi-Rez are presently working on MOBA title Smite, which is currently in a closed beta. Goren countered claims that the company was milking players of Tribes: Ascend to fund the creation of Smite by claiming that without developing a new title, the studio and servers for its titles would have closed.

In no way does this mean game developers have to endure such a high stakes risk. Even though any game would be facing uncertainty to compete with the major AAA titles.
Which is to say, its independent game developers that are making those changes in the industry, by their willingness to take the plunge, produce innovative designs, and use concepts that are significantly impacting the market. And, its taking place on multiple platforms, from Linux, Mac, PC, and on to next-generation consoles, tablets, and hand-held devices. Something both League of Legends and Smite could learn a thing or two from.

While independent developers are using Kickstarter and Indiegogo to bring a project to reality, a rather common occurrence. Another MOBA title, Aweseomauts from Ronimo Games, have been spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign to ensure their next big endeavour would be well received by the market. Giving the public a heads-up and the opportunity to participate/pledge on the project and prolonging the life of the game.
This method seems to be generating a whole new generation of game developers that are not only out-performing new titles but also outsmarting them in the process. And its in no way cheating.

Simply using the resources at hand and making the endeavour to do something different. This is the way of the cross-platform game developer.

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