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"How the hell does *that* cost $X to make???" (Giant Bomb and Skullgirls)

dLMN8R

Member
Dec 14, 2007
11,578
0
880
Excellent editorial by Patrick Klepek over at Giant Bomb:

http://www.giantbomb.com/articles/the-little-fighting-game-that-could/1100-4587/

“$150k Christ on a bike. I've overseen whole projects that cost less than that," said one commenter.

“Its just a character........" said one reader. "how the fuck can making a character for a video game cost more then my house??? 0_o”

It's a sentiment I've seen everywhere around the web with each new Kickstarter that gets announced. A complete disconnect between gamers' perceptions of what a game should cost vs. the realities of how expensive people are to employ, businesses are to run, and content is to produce.

$48,000: Staff Salaries - 8 people for 10 weeks
$30,000: Animation and Clean-up Contracting
$4,000: Voice recording
$2,000: Hit-box Contracting
$5,000: Audio Implementation Contracting
$20,000: QA Testing
$10,000: 1st Party Certification
$10,500: IndieGoGo and Payment Processing Fees
$20,500: Manufacturing and Shipping Physical Rewards
 

10101

Member
Sep 16, 2012
916
0
400
UK
Wow that breakdown really highlights how fucking expensive shit is. I doubt I'll be making any games anytime soon lol.
 

ryamkajr

Banned
Feb 22, 2012
146
0
0
Most people do not realize the high costs of overhead tied to personnel. A loose rule, depending on industry is that the overhead per person is typically 40-50% per their salary.

That covers utilities, allocated space as part of the company's rent, benefits, taxes, coverage of admin and other support personnel. It adds up real quick.
 

Gintoki313

Banned
Aug 12, 2012
5,272
0
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24
Michigan
twitter.com
See now I'm confused. Now I'm no marketing expert and I'm definitely not the smartest guy in what for what costs. Anyways how do you make a profit on a game if it actually takes this much money to make even just a single character. I don't mind looking like the stupid one here, but the way I'm seeing it unless the game looks low budget then it would need to sell like 1mill to even make the money back of what it costs to make it. I know how movies work with their budgets and how they make their money back, but video games will always be a big question mark to me.

Let's just say after seeing this I'm glad that my major is in animation and not video games.
 

Coolwhip

Banned
Mar 28, 2011
9,644
0
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I think there is a complete disconnect between how much videogame development costs and reality. 150k for a character is beyond words, no matter how you break it down.
 

Jack_AG

Banned
Feb 8, 2012
4,068
0
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Chicago, IL
I think there is a complete disconnect between how much videogame development costs and reality. 150k for a character is beyond words, no matter how you break it down.
Looking at those audio numbers I thought I was on the expensive side for charging 200/hr for VO recording, editing, etc. Taking my price into consideration the VA was there for 20 hours recording grunts.

I'm not buying those prices, TBH.
 

dLMN8R

Member
Dec 14, 2007
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0
880
I think there is a complete disconnect between how much videogame development costs and reality. 150k for a character is beyond words, no matter how you break it down.
How much do you think it should cost? Can you please give a detailed breakdown and analysis of exactly how you reached your number?

I'm not buying those prices, TBH.
Why?
 

nullref

Member
Feb 15, 2012
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405
I don't know enough about game production specifically to quibble with the numbers -- but given my knowledge of software development and consulting in general, they don't seem unreasonable.
 

Coolwhip

Banned
Mar 28, 2011
9,644
0
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How much do you think it should cost? Can you please give a detailed breakdown and analysis of exactly how you reached your number?

Why?
For 150k you can get about 1000 hours of work done by a professional. 1000 hours for a character in a videogame? Sounds like a bloated mess.
 

cpp_is_king

Member
Mar 1, 2011
16,819
105
590
For 150k you can get about 1000 hours of work done by a professional. 1000 hours for a character in a videogame? Sounds like a bloated mess.
Did you actually read the breakdown?

a) There are multiple people involved

b) Not everyone has the same skillset / charges the same rate. You aren't going to get your voice actor to do animation, presumably.

c) Not all the money goes to labor costs. Did you notice the other costs like physical reward production, cetification, etc?
 

Servbot24

Banned
Feb 14, 2012
30,485
0
0
Austin, TX
www.ianbarkerart.com
I don't get those prices at all. Pretty sure I could design, model, rig, animate, do a theme song, record some grunts and do testing for single character in a year, even if I had to do a lot of learning along the way, and 150k is more than I could ever dream of making in even a year.
 
Sep 20, 2007
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Looking at those audio numbers I thought I was on the expensive side for charging 200/hr for VO recording, editing, etc. Taking my price into consideration the VA was there for 20 hours recording grunts.

I'm not buying those prices, TBH.
Audio is expensive. VOs for a even a few minutes of non-broadcast, business to business film can costs thousands of pounds, for example.
 

valeo

Member
Dec 10, 2008
3,637
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0
A house
Not sure if serious..

Modders make alternative costumes for free.. look at skyrim's mods for example.
Do you expect someone to work for free on a SF game? It's a job. They expect to be paid for it.

I don't get those prices at all. Pretty sure I could design, model, rig, animate, do a theme song, record some grunts and do testing for single character in well under a year, and 150k is more than I could ever dream of making.
To a professional level - as in, something that people would pay for? No, you couldn't.
 

cpp_is_king

Member
Mar 1, 2011
16,819
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590
I don't get those prices at all. Pretty sure I could design, model, rig, animate, do a theme song, record some grunts and do testing for single character in well under a year, and 150k is more than I could ever dream of making.
You say you're pretty sure. Have you tried to do this before in the context of an actual game, or are you just guessing?

If you're saying that you think you could handle the entire process of making the character by yourself, with 0 outside help and no additional resources on the task, I'd say I think you're out of your mind, regardless of your skill set.
 

SUPARSTARX

Member
Jul 27, 2009
4,678
0
775
Not sure if serious..

Modders make alternative costumes for free.. look at skyrim's mods for example.
The SF4/SFxT Modders are using premade assets and just recoloring/snipping them in and out them for the most part. They're not exactly making anything from scratch though.
 

Recall

Member
Mar 29, 2012
10,081
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0
Rotherham, UK
I don't get those prices at all. Pretty sure I could design, model, rig, animate, do a theme song, record some grunts and do testing for single character in well under a year, and 150k is more than I could ever dream of making.
Then offer your services. Tell them you will do that for 100k, you get the money and they make a saving. What's holding you back?
 

Squire

Banned
Feb 6, 2011
26,542
0
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Los Angeles
Yeah, that's another win for Klepek. I was shocked at how much, "LOL $150k for DLC" was going around when that hit. High-lighted how ignorant people can be about not only development costs in general, but fighting game development in general. You don't just add a character to the games' roster on a whim.
 

Guevara

Member
Jul 27, 2009
24,816
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The industry has gotten too specialized. We shouldn't need 8 professional and a voice actor to do one minor thing.
 

AppleMIX

Member
Apr 11, 2007
5,259
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Wow where can I sign up for this job? How many lines can 1 character in a fighting game have?
It's very hard to do voice acting as a fulltime job. Sure, you get a lump sum now but it might be 2-3 months before you can find work again.

The industry has gotten too specialized. We shouldn't need 8 professional and a voice actor to do one minor thing.
Isn't that the problem?

Maybe minor things are not so minor.
 

FyreWulff

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Jan 21, 2010
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Not sure if serious..

Modders make alternative costumes for free.. look at skyrim's mods for example.
Modders tend to use a lot of premade assets. It also only costs less if your time is worthless.

The industry has gotten too specialized. We shouldn't need 8 professional and a voice actor to do one minor thing.
Creating a Principal-level character is a minor thing?
 

gryz

Banned
Dec 21, 2011
3,604
0
0
Seattle
seems like this is how much it costs if your team is incapable of doing a lot of the work themselves and have to outsource a bunch of the work.

why can't these be done by the staff who is already getting paid? what are these 8 people doing?
$30,000: Animation and Clean-up Contracting
$4,000: Voice recording
$2,000: Hit-box Contracting
$5,000: Audio Implementation Contracting
$20,000: QA Testing
disclaimer I am a software engineer.
 

DUFFMCWALIN

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Mar 6, 2010
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In this thread people do not understand paying people for the work they do and having to pay outsourcing, rent, equipment, and misc. costs vs modders who use usually prewritten tools to change in world assets, not make new stuff (although there are exceptions). If these prices are true then they do not surprise me at all.
 

aggro crag

Member
Jun 23, 2008
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Wow, I'm a little disappointed in the responses. Instead of disconnected, complete cynicism and arrogance. Damn, if people can do everything from making characters and sound effects for SG, maybe try hitting up Lab Zero with your portfolio.
 

Coolwhip

Banned
Mar 28, 2011
9,644
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If games development was one single job maybe we could say that.
It doesn't matter who does what. I'm just saying 150k is a lot of hours. Not surprising videogames are so expensive to make when this is acceptable in the industry.
 

Dueck

Banned
Jul 19, 2011
1,095
1
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To answer the guy who wonders how a character could cost more than his house (even though he will likely never read this): your house is either cheap or located in a bad area.

The fact of the matter is that the extra character will be free for a limited time. That gives them a bit of leeway, IMO. It's still overpriced, like the game itself was to me...
 

Slermy

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Apr 18, 2009
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So 2d art cost more than 3d?
Generally yes.

Traditional animation is insanely expensive, and takes a lot more time to do than to model a character in 3D and then animate it. Just think about what needs to happen if say... you want the legs to be slightly thinner. You then need to alter every frame, as opposed to just changing the mesh once.
 

RobotRocker

Member
Nov 19, 2010
704
0
0
Not sure if serious..

Modders make alternative costumes for free.. look at skyrim's mods for example.
Modding is done over a longer timescale and on a smaller basis by hobbyists. EG one person works on one costume for a few weeks in their spare time and then releases it. Bethesda would have a smaller timescale and a larger basis for them by a team of paid professionals. The modder will always be behind on time and resources for it unless they are unemployed or have no social life (Which looking at some of the Skyrim mods, yeah, I can see that occurring)

And that's even if the game supports modding. SSF4 barely supports it and the alternative costumes made by modders are just texture repaints.

Modding just can't reach the scale of development unless you have a mod team, really.
 

FyreWulff

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Jan 21, 2010
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It doesn't matter who does what. I'm just saying 150k is a lot of hours. Not surprising videogames are so expensive to make when this is acceptable in the industry.
What's an acceptable salary to you?

Even if it was only 3 people working on it, that's 50k/yr (assuming no other work pans out) before taxes. That's not really doable much outside of the midwest.

So 2d art cost more than 3d?
It is significantly more expensive. Especially if you want it to actually look good.
 

Rehynn

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Nov 2, 2010
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Budapest, Hungary
$4,000 for voice recording?

I've recorded decent sounding albums with my band (12 songs) for $2,000. Not in the US, of course, but still, that is just an insane price. Here you can find excellent studios that charge no more that $60/hour.
 
Sep 20, 2007
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It doesn't matter who does what. I'm just saying 150k is a lot of hours. Not surprising videogames are so expensive to make when this is acceptable in the industry.
Why on earth are you equating that sum to just work hours? If that's all companies had to worry about the economy would be fucking booming. Well, creatives would; service industries would be fucked.

$4.000 for voice recording?

I've recorded decent sounding albums with my band (12 songs) for $2.000. Not in the US, of course, but still, that is just an insane price. Here you can find excellent studios that charge no more that $60/hour.
That's the cost for the studio. Obviously, recording your own material, you're not charging yourself for your own time, or charging yourself for the future use of your own material. Not to mention the cost of an audio engineer, who might come separately depending on the needs of the project.
 

Coolwhip

Banned
Mar 28, 2011
9,644
0
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What's an acceptable salary to you?

Even if it was only 3 people working on it, that's 50k/yr (assuming no other work pans out) before taxes. That's not really doable much outside of the midwest.
Well, it's not like 3 people work on just this for a year.
 

jello44

Chie is the worst waifu
Feb 17, 2012
20,677
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Yeah, that's another win for Klepek. I was shocked at how much, "LOL $150k for DLC" was going around when that hit. High-lighted how ignorant people can be about not only development costs in general, but fighting game development in general. You don't just add a character to the games' roster on a whim.
I'm not shocked people make these remarks at all.
 

Tallshortman

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Jul 31, 2008
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This is essentially money to get their entire operation up and running again, basically starting an entire new studio. If they were already set up and working on other projects, simply diverting time away to make a single character doesn't really cost that much for such a non graphically intensive game. That said, if their only purpose was to make a new character this should still only cost a few thousand through a smaller dedicated team with contracted work for art and not renting studio time (honestly there are certainly cheaper alternatives to renting professional studios, and voice acting from low level voice actresses is cheap unless you're in the middle of nowhere) to do voice work. People are essentially kickstarting this developer's whole operation.
 

FyreWulff

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Jan 21, 2010
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$4.000 for voice recording?

I've recorded decent sounding albums with my band (12 songs) for $2.000. Not in the US, of course, but still, that is just an insane price. Here you can find excellent studios that charge no more that $60/hour.
Voice actors tend to have minimum costs to even show up, rent the time for the studio, have a proper director in the studio, then pay for all the techs.

$4,000 is cheap for VA.

Well, it's not like 3 people work on just this for a year.
Considering the dev's situation, it could be close to that in effect.

You also kind of have to think of it like wanting a single book made versus 500,000 copies. This character is already being done on the cheap, but when you're essentially spinning things up just for a single character, that will also add to the cost. For example, even big devs like Bungie or 343 have Jeff Steitzer (the voice of the MP announcer) just record as many things as he can each time he shows up to maximize their dollar. Because if they need to bring him in again later to re-record, those lines are going to have a lot higher relative cost than the other recordings.