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Aug 09, 2004



How do you calculate development costs? Is it just the actual game development team? I suspect most publishers want to pick the biggest number possible to make the game sound big, and scare away competitors.

Game team
Technology + tools
Server hardware (prototype and production)
CSR and server admin personnel (some of these will be required for development)
Web admin


Electronic Arts lost heavily on EA.com during its "paradigm shift" to online games. Gamers were thought to be making an exodus to online games, and EA.com was supposedly to be the ultimate gaming portal for games: persistent world, multiplayer, single player, etc.

I think the grand total charge for everything involving EA.com came to somewhere around $400 million. Sadly, it's not really a gaming site anymore, and a lot of games were killed off along the way - both published and in development - to make up for it.


EA keeps it's sports games running fine but can't hold a steady online MMOG to save it's life (way to go cancelling Earth and Beyond btw). EA gets a rating of about 5% in my book, only because they do manage sports games well.

(-5 mod points for being off topic to me)


Looking at the economics of a hit $25 million is not an unreasonable budget. Back when Lineage was the only product NC Soft had they were making close to $100 million US a year.

There are a lot of operational costs after the game is launched but the market is growing fast as well. Its clearly possible to make a very nice profit on a $25 million development budget.

On the downside if they don't have a hit they burn a ton of money. That is the nature of business though.


According to the May issue of PC Gamer, EQ2 is a $25 million development. While SWG "only" cost $15 million.

That means such a game needs at least 250,000 customers paying $50 for the box plus another $50 for 3 months subscription, just to get the development costs back. Add all the costs for servers, bandwith, customer support, etc., and it takes them years to just break even. And that in the face of competition which is a lot stiffer than it was 5 years ago when EQ came out.


In Asia there are a number of games that are over the 250,000 subscriber mark. Pricing is different as well, subscription prices in Korea are sometimes higher than in the USA.

Asia has a much stronger market for these games than the USA right now. Look at Final Fantasy they are over 500,000 subscriptions right now, if the game cost $25 million to develop they are still well into the black.

The real problem is that you may not have a hit and if you spend $25 million on failure it hurts.

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