How Much Does It Cost to Make a Hyper-Casual Mobile Game?

Find out an approximate cost of development a hyper-casual hit.

On average, 43% of time used on mobile devices is on games. And considering mobile phones are the first thing that someone will pick up in the morning and the last thing they’ll put down in the evening, that’s a lot of time to spend on gaming on such a small screen.

 

It’s safe to say that the era of mobile gaming has just started. But what kind of games are more profitable to develop? And how much does this cost? As a shiny new developer, knowing just where to start can be a daunting task on its own.

 

At the moment, 7 of the top 10 free games on Google Play are hyper-casual. So in this blog, we’ll be reviewing Voodoo’s Helix jump, and Rise Up (developed by Serkan Özyılmaz), to figure out just exactly how much these types of games cost to develop, and what you should expect when making your own.

 

Starting with Hyper-casual Mechanics

 

They’re a bunch of different mechanics you can use when creating hyper-casual games. However, due to the nature of hyper-casual games, none of these need to be overly complex, which means less funding for loads of controls (as close as possible to a “tap to play” game).  If we take a look at Helix jump for example (now more than 100 million downloads), the mechanic is simply rotating the sphere.

 

Of course, every project is unique in its way even if it copies another project’s logic, its functionality can be implemented in several different variants. The price of developing a game depends on several factors such as the country you’re hiring developers from, the size of a company and the chosen game genre. It’s pretty difficult to say exactly how much such publishing giants as Voodoo invest into their mechanics. However, our game development team can give an approximate cost of development based on our experience with the average Eastern European developer hourly rates.

 

Prototyping Phase

 

Every game starts with a prototype. Wait, of course, a game starts with an idea, but in this article, we already have something alike. So, yes, every game development process starts with a prototype. As the chosen mechanics isn’t very difficult, it can be made in two or three days and will cost you about $1,500 as it takes about 50 hours of development.

 

It’s important to mention that we consider a prototype as a piece of the game that already can implement some mechanics and actually is a game without beautiful graphics and other necessary stuff for a full-fledged product. And you can use this to get an idea of whether or not your game is going to be a hit (keep an eye on key metrics like CPI and retention here), so to keep those costs down.

 

It sucks killing a game, but if it means saving you thousands in the long run, then it can be worth it.

 

Graphic Content

 

At this stage, you’ll have your shiny prototype, and done some testing. So you’ve probably spent from anywhere between $1,000 – $5,000 (heavily depending on your team size, resources, testing budget, etc – you might have done this a bit cheaper but cutting some corners, we’re just taking the industry average).

 

Sounds like a lot, right? Thankfully, you can definitely save a bit of your hard-earned cash on the visuals.

 

Hyper-casual games, notoriously, are not really known for their artwork. You can keep this fairly simple, but make sure to make them vibrant and eye-catching. You can probably get away with doing this in house, but keep in mind the other elements that need designing (menu appearance, achievements, bonus items, etc). This can cost you about $6,000 if you choose game art outsourcing.

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Game Development Process

 

The core logic of such games is not so difficult and time-consuming task as the rest elements that are necessary for every game. The game will focus on a single simple mechanic, but you still have to design and develop a menu, settings, bonuses counter, achievements, trophies. Even if the development part comprises 5 hours of work, these elements are still a must-have. However, that’s not our case, because we want to make a simple but high-quality game. Thus, the development itself will take about two months that is about $14,000 for you.

 

Additional Expenditure

 

Don’t forget about sounds and music design. It’ll take approximately 30 hours to find the appropriate sounds and create a soundtrack (it can be used both for the menu and the level, maybe just with minor modifications). A game also can’t be developed without the help of project managers and QA team. It’s another 100 hours of work ($3,000).

 

Never neglect marketing (especially if we’re talking about hypercasual games). Voodoo makes about 40 games a year, and taking into account their budget and opportunity to cross-promote their new titles in the most popular products, their games are always on top.

 

How can you conquer the market without a well-thought-out marketing strategy? Ideally, your marketing budget should be around 80% of the entire game costs. However, there are several ways to reduce marketing costs. For example, with correctly chosen keywords, an icon and long-term engaging work in social media you already can count on some downloads but it still won’t be enough. You’ll still have to provide at least 50% of the development costs on marketing to be noticed. However, don’t forget about the opportunity of contacting game publishers.

 

Summary

 

Thus, hyper-casual games are not as simple as they seem to be. The mechanics are really not difficult to develop, but all the rest elements of the game are still necessary. In these games, a user actually replays the same level over and over again. It’s a true economy of content, but there is still a progression, a menu, achievements, and levels, that have to be balanced. All these tasks are not very rapid to develop (and therefore not very cheap) and will cost you about $25 thousand without any marketing facilities.

However, with the help of experienced game development studio that can help your game stand out of hundred everyday releases and the right marketing strategy will allow you to be on top. And taking into account the amount of money they earn through in-game ads, it’s worth it.

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