Gaming Mobile App Development: Cost & Advanced Key Features

By Ruchir C.

Every year, the number of mobile apps downloaded increases and as per Statista, the annual mobile apps downloads by 2019 was 204 billion. The share of mobile games in mobile apps downloads is 22.37% for both iOS and Android. Most people invest in creating unique games, while some just make a clone of popular games, and some just introduce an enhanced version of those games. In this article, we will be talking about the reasons, features, and costs of developing a mobile game

The mobile app development industry is booming as there were 2.4 billion gamers recorded in the year 2019. Technologies such as Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are emerging, these numbers will only increase. As per the reports from Statista, by the year 2025, the US gaming market will be worth $29.5 billion and the average revenue per user is $121.30. In the past two years, games such as COD and PUBG Mobile have reached $500 million and $2.6 billion in revenue respectively. 

In the gaming industry, the share of mobile games is around 55.19%, whereas PC games and console gaming shares only 28.70% and 16.11% of the total share respectively. The reason behind the popularity of mobile games is that because they do not require any complex installation. You just have to click on the download button and start playing in a minute. 

In 2020, there were 2.5 billion mobile players in the world, and in 2021, these numbers have reached a figure of 2.7 billion. With over 800 million downloads, PUBG Mobile is the most loved battle royal game whereas, with a billion downloads, Fruit Ninja is one of the most addictive games. 

For most people, the major factor is gaming app development cost who are planning to break into this market. To understand how the price is decided, let us dig a little deeper into the development process. 

Stages of Mobile App Development

Before beginning with the development process, you need to make it clear how exactly you are going to spend the money for development. The procedure of developing a gaming app consists of the following stages. 

  1. Market Research and Analysis

Time: 1 Week

You need to do complete market research to know about your targeted audiences and competitors in the market to determine the optimal solutions. 

  1. Writing a Designing Document

Time: 1 Week

You need to write down the complete specification and development process in black and white to turn your thoughts into reality.

  1. Create Technical Specifications

Time: 2 Weeks

Create a gaming concept, discuss game mechanics, and choose a suitable platform, either iOS or Android. After finalizing the specifications, you can also determine the development cost.

  1. Create Prototype

Time: 1 Week

A prototype is a general sketch of the final model without art visuals and details, that helps you to understand how the final product is going to work and look. 

  1. Game Design

Time: 3 Weeks

At this stage, the 2D/3D models of characters, map, environment, and interface elements are designed to determine the visual perception of the game. 

  1. Game Programming

Time: 2+ months

Programming the game, setting up database, API, server, and integration of game graphics to be embedded with 2D and 3D graphics. 

  1. Creation of a Sound Scheme

Time: 1 Week

Music is integrated into the game with various sound effects to offer maximum fun.

  1. Testing

Time: 1 Week

The final product is tested to remove errors and bugs so that the app can run smoothly. 

  1. Publication

Time: 1 day

Finally, the app is launched and hosted in Google Play Store or Apple App Store so that users can download it. 

On average, a simple gaming app can be developed within 2-4 months whereas a complex game product takes 5+ months for development. 

Various Factors to be Considered While Developing a Gaming App

A mobile game can be 2D or 3D depending on the graphics that are integrated into the app. But there are some other factors that you need to consider during the development process:

  1. App Platform

The two most common platforms that are famous amongst the game app development industry are iOS and Android. However, you can also go with Windows and other open-source development OS as per your choice. The platform plays an important role in the expenses of the development process. 

If we compare iOS and Android, adding features such as payment integration and administrative systems are 10-20% more expensive on iOS. Although Android development can be sometimes costlier if you are developing an app for older versions of Android. 

  1. 2D vs. 3D Games

2D games are less expensive than 3D games as the features that are included in 2D games are comparatively less. Simple 2D games such as Sudoku, Red Ball, and Flappy Birds can be developed for $5-20k. However, 2D games with some additional functionalities can cost up to $50-100k. Depending on the complexity of the game, 3D game app development ranges between $20k and $250k. 

  1. Design

The game designing phase is a multilevel process as game levels, environment, gameplay, and targeted users are planned during the designing phase. So, this is a crucial phase and requires careful planning. Without a proper design plan, your game may face glitches and it may crash. 

From designing to development, many professionals including game artists, UX/UI designers are involved. As per the experience of the professionals, they can charge between $150 to $250 per hour. 

  1. Game Story, Plot, and Characters

The stories are the basis of the success of an engaging game application. If you want to keep your users engaged till the end of the game, you need to integrate an attractive character and plot into the game. This process includes designing the character of the personality, tone of the characters, and character’s interaction with the player. 

As this process requires a lot of communication between professional strategists and game ideates, it is a nice idea to outsource professional developers for this ask. A professional gaming app development service provider may charge between $100 to $150 an hour. 

  1. Marketing of the Game App

So now you have successfully developed your game app, it doesn’t mean that the app is going to be a success in the market. You need to put some marketing efforts to make your game app popular in the market. You need to set a proper marketing strategy as per your budget to increase the visibility of the app in the Google and Apple App Store, which is also known as App Store Optimization. 

  1. App Testing

For mobile game apps, the testing process is as important as development. Gamers usually do not tolerate bugs in the game. No one will love a slow and buggy game so you need to make sure that the game runs smoothly on mobile devices without any errors and issues. Usually, the game development app development company offers testing services as an integral part of the development process. Make sure to keep some budget aside for testing. 

Gaming App Categories

According to the complexity of the game, the games are categorized into the following:

  1. Mini Games

Games such as Ping-Pong or Pac Man are simple mini-games that do not require any specific skills to play. These games have features of the minimal visual and endless chase. These games can be developed at a cost of around $20,000 and if you want to add graphics, then the cost may increase up to $50,000. 

  1. Simple 2D Games

Games developed with simple 2D graphics and soundtrack fall under the category of 2D games. These games offer a great user engagement rate and generate good revenues for the business. The development cost of these games ranges between $50,000 to $100,000 and some of the best examples of this category are Stack and Red Bull. 

  1. Social Games

Games that are developed through SDKs offered by social media platforms are called Social games. The development cost of social media games ranges between $100,000 to $250,000. Some popular games like Farmville are placed under this category and multiple players can play these games on social media such as Facebook. 

  1. Mid-Level Games

One of the most popular games that fall under this category is Angry Birds. Mid-level games contain various characters, multiple levels, outstanding graphics, and stories. To keep the gamers engaged till the last stage, the variety and depth of the story play an important part in this category. The development cost for mid-level games costs around $250,000 to $700,000. 

  1. Business Game Applications

To improve the efforts of team-building, modern-day businesses are currently developing business game applications. These games majorly focus on engaging a large group of people. Through these applications, many companies are enhancing creativity and communication among their employees by offering a fun working environment. 

The business game applications are developed for cross-platform and they are usually multiplayer games. These games involve interesting storylines, animation, soundtrack, game levels, and attractive graphics. From small-scale and mid-sized businesses to enterprise companies, these types of gaming applications are being used for branding their services and products in a unique way for generating more leads and sales. 

The business game application development cost ranges between $250,000 to $500,000. So before developing a business gaming application, it is a nice idea to hire a professional gaming app development company that can deliver customized gaming app development services as per your requirements.

  1. High-Level Games

Games developed with a complex design, comprehensive plan, and strategy are placed under this category. You need to spend a huge amount if you are planning to develop high-level games. However, once the game becomes popular, it can generate a lot of profits and huge ROI for your business. 

Since you are going to spend a huge amount of money and time on the project, you need to hire a professional development company to develop an app as per your requirements. The development time of high-end mobile games may take up to a year and the cost may vary from $400,000 to $1,000,000. 

Mobile game Monetization Options

So now you have developed your game app by investing your finances in the game. But how you are going to get that investment back? To help you out, here are some monetization options that can help you with it. As per the reports from Statista, the most popular business model of June 2019 are the subscription model. 

  1. Subscription Model

The game can charge $0.99 per month to play. Most education mobile games use this approach to generate profitable returns. 

  1. Freemium Model

The games under this category can be downloaded, installed, and played for free, but not all features work in the free version. If people find your game interesting, they may think about purchasing the full version of the game. 

  1. In-App Purchases

The game may be free/freemium/premium but some features of the game can be purchased for real money. 

  1. Advertising

One of the most disliked types of monetization for users, but it works and users don’t have to pay for the app. Users who love the game but don’t like ads will think about purchasing the full version to remove ads. 

Mobile Game Technologies

Out of so many technologies used for the development of gaming apps, Unity and Unreal Engine are the two most famous technologies:

  1. Unreal Technologies

One of the major advantages of using Unreal Engine is that it does not require any extensive programming skills for the development of a game. Its powerful engine allows the developers to create games with stunning and attractive 3D graphics to win user’s attention. Unreal Engine supports the following platforms:

  • PC (Windows / Mac / Linux)
  • Consoles (PlayStation 4 / Xbox One)
  • Mobile (iOS / Android)
  • VR platforms
  • SteamOS
  • HTML5

Cost to Use Unreal Engine

Reports as per June 12, 2020.

If the lifetime gross revenue of the project exceeds $1,000,000 then you have to pay a 5% royalty. 

For small projects it is free

Some of the most popular games that are developed with Unreal Engine are Fortnite, Borderlands 3, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

  1. Unity

For a lot of games and apps, HUSPI is used with Unity. The major advantage of using Unity is that it offers cross-platform technology so that the developers can create apps for multiple platforms using the mutual backend. It is easily customizable and versatile. Following platforms are supported by Unity:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Tizen OS (used mostly by Samsung)
  • Fire OS (used by Amazon Kindle tablets)

Cost to Use Unity Engine

Reports as per June 12, 2020.

  • For personal use it is free; if funding is less than $100k in the last 12 months
  • For Unity plus edition, the cost is $40/month; if funding is less than $200k in the last 12 months
  • For Unity Pro edition, $150/month is the fee; if funding is over $200k in the last 12 months
  • $200/month is the cost for Enterprise edition; if funding is over $200k in the last 12 months

But the price is not your issue if you are outsourcing a development company as the cost is covered by the company. Some of the most popular games developed for Unity are Angry Birds 2, Lara Croft Go, and Pokémon Go

Cost of Mobile Gaming App Development

Well, the question that will be confusing is that how much it cost to develop a gaming app? The honest answer for this is that it is not fixed, as discussed above, cost varies as per various factors. Simple basic game development starts from $1,500 and the price may go over $1,000,000. 

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With the increase in the use of mobile phones for entertainment, the demand for mobile gaming apps has also increased. Once the game touches popularity in the market, it ensures long-term revenue generation. So if you want to develop a gaming app, it is important to consider the above-mentioned factors before beginning with the development. Hiring a mobile gaming app development company for your next gaming project is the best thing you can do to make your app successful. 

Hope this blog will help you to understand the complete process of developing a gaming app, factors that are going to affect the development cost. 

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