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Why its so expensive to create a MMO?

I was reading a interview, with what i believe is the lead developer of Guild Wars 2, he made it in 2007 and one of the things he said was "to enter in the MMO market you better have at least a 50 developer team and 40 million dollars".

40 million dollars is alot of money, and since im really clueless about any computer developed stuff, i want to understand whats the really expensive part of it?

 

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Comments

  • mysticquemysticque Member UncommonPosts: 36

    a lot of things... advertising...maintenance.... what else consider other possibilties too like a failure lunch.. you have to have at least 1 year to cover all downturn.

    [email protected]
    www.youtube.com/411mysticque

  • waynejr2waynejr2 Member EpicPosts: 7,769

    Do you think they just make these numbers up?

    http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2010/QBlog190810A.html  

    Epic Music:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAigCvelkhQ&list=PLo9FRw1AkDuQLEz7Gvvaz3ideB2NpFtT1

    https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary_msdos?&sort=-downloads&page=1

    Kyleran:  "Now there's the real trick, learning to accept and enjoy a game for what it offers rather than pass on what might be a great playing experience because it lacks a few features you prefer."

    John Henry Newman: "A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."

    FreddyNoNose:  "A good game needs no defense; a bad game has no defense." "Easily digested content is just as easily forgotten."

    LacedOpium: "So the question that begs to be asked is, if you are not interested in the game mechanics that define the MMORPG genre, then why are you playing an MMORPG?"




  • PivotelitePivotelite Member UncommonPosts: 2,145

    AAA MMOs are very big and require incredible amounts of developers, artists, musicians, animators, etc.

     

    40million isn't even too much, SW:TOR, TERA and WoW all have higher budgets.

     

    It takes 4-5 years on average to develop an MMO, you have to pay these developers, animators, artists and musicians for all this time while they work on drawing, coding and putting together the massive game world.

     

    You've got to record thousands of sounds, zones, cities, battles, etc all have composers compose actual songs individually for each place. 

     

    You need to animate thousands of movements.

     

    You need to code thousands of pages of code.

     

    You need to render/draw miles of landscapes.

     

     

    image

  • aleosaleos Member UncommonPosts: 1,942

    Originally posted by waynejr2

    Do you think they just make these numbers up?

    sure why not.

  • Garvon3Garvon3 Member CommonPosts: 2,898

    It really isn't as expensive as people claim.

     

    I'd bet most WoW clones set aside a good 3 million to make CGI adverts and banner ads, then complain about it being "expensive". Meanwhile, 30 man companies like Aventurine make groundbreaking MMOs with only a couple million.

    The harder bit, is finding people with good game design knowledge. THat pool seems to have dried up once publishers got involved in MMOs. Now the answer is "instance every problem then copy WoW!"

  • dronfwardronfwar Member Posts: 316

    I guess wage(approx.) * months * developers * years

    10.000 * 12 = 120.000 * 50 = 6.000.000 * 5 = 30.000.000 + advertisements + box pressing

     

  • PivotelitePivotelite Member UncommonPosts: 2,145

    Originally posted by Garvon3

    It really isn't as expensive as people claim.

     

    I'd bet most WoW clones set aside a good 3 million to make CGI adverts and banner ads, then complain about it being "expensive". Meanwhile, 30 man companies like Aventurine make groundbreaking MMOs with only a couple million.

    The harder bit, is finding people with good game design knowledge. THat pool seems to have dried up once publishers got involved in MMOs. Now the answer is "instance every problem then copy WoW!"

      Wow if they set aside 3 million just for banner ads and CGI adverts I cant imagine how much the music development, sound recording, graphics design, coding, etc must have cost. 

     

    Regardless he's not talking about the MMOs you see advertised all over the site, he's more referring to AAA MMO titles. The ones with an actual budget.

     

    image

  • MeltdownMeltdown Member UncommonPosts: 1,183

    Well I think the amount of freedom and flexibility these games typically give players makes it really difficult to generate content "quickly". We have seen many times a small under-funded team just gets overwhelmed with nefarious players who look to exploit a game that hasn't had the resources to iron out all the wrinkles.

     

    I think if you want to know why its so expensive, go look at the MMOs which were made on the "cheap". Xsyon, MO, DF to some degree, all with major issues at launch, game-breaking bugs, rollbacks, delays, etc. Sure the core features of the game are solid, but there's just so much content in an MMO, even the games where people complain about there being no content...

    "They essentially want to say 'Correlation proves Causation' when it's just not true." - Sovrath

  • randomtrandomt Member UncommonPosts: 1,220

    What he's saying is: "If you are a small company, don't bother trying to compete with the big boys!"

    They are afraid of what will happen if one of these small fries goes ahead and creates the next big mmo, and outdoing all of those big name big budget shops that have been shatting out bad mmos over the last few years. Because these big boys are so financially involved, they have to puke out a generic please-all thing to make their investors happy, creating a pile of steamy goo, instead of targeting their product specifically to a type of gamer and cornering that market.

  • TorgrimTorgrim Member CommonPosts: 2,088

    Wurm is created by just one guy on his freetime, but all is relative I guess.

    If it's not broken, you are not innovating.

  • AdalwulffAdalwulff Member, Newbie CommonPosts: 1,152

    Other than the obvious stuff, like my fellow morphians mentioned, there is one huge thing that a lot of starting companies dont prepare for.

    And that is MEETINGS!

    I was an Architect before the recession, so my job was very much like a game dev, I had to organize all the different talents working on a project. And, every project has, milestones, or specific deadlines for specific parts of the project.

    Once that milestone was achieved, you had to have a meeting, then everyone had to agree on the progress, discuss what needed more improvment, or what was wrong. These meetings take a seriously vast amount of time, not just the meetings themselves, but also preparing for it, getting everyone to agree on a day and time, which was a full time job in itself.

    Now if your talking about 20, 30 or even 50 people, that is an enormous task! It eats your money like no tommorow!

    There are software companies that are finnally getting the idea, and comming up with new programs to alllow communication between teams much more fluid. But we are still a long way off.

    image
  • PyrateLVPyrateLV Member CommonPosts: 1,096

    All those Company perks cost $$$

    Going to "Industry Events" in your new Mercedes with high priced escorts gets expensive

    Tried: EQ2 - AC - EU - HZ - TR - MxO - TTO - WURM - SL - VG:SoH - PotBS - PS - AoC - WAR - DDO - SWTOR
    Played: UO - EQ1 - AO - DAoC - NC - CoH/CoV - SWG - WoW - EVE - AA - LotRO - DFO - STO - FE - MO - RIFT
    Playing: Skyrim
    Following: The Repopulation
    I want a Virtual World, not just a Game.
    ITS TOO HARD! - Matt Firor (ZeniMax)

  • William12William12 Member Posts: 680

    1.  Developer/employee cost.  Lets make some numbers up.  Assume the avg artist/dev/programer makes $60,000 now early on your team is small mabe a few dozen people if that Once you hit full blown development its 200 + easily.     

    2. License fees on game engines like The hero engine or whatever you use this actually saves money since developing your own engine like SOE is doing for PS2 and EQnext is WAY more expensive and time consuming although it has its benefits of in house programmers who know the engine upside down.

    3. Distribution/marketing You think these employees work for free ?  You think it cost nothing to produce and ship the actual phsyical box copies of the game ? 

     

    In the end we're talking about 200 + employees making 60k a year  thats 12 mil a year for atleast 4 years and that would be considered a small team.   WOW and EQ2 cost considerably less then SWTOR to develop but they didnt have to deal with a 3rd party IP named lucas arts where you also have to pay for the license to use the star wars name on your game.

     

    8-10 Years ago when EQ2 and WOW were in development the cost to make them games was considered HUGE but not anymore.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 25,360

    It depends on what you're trying to do.  If you're trying to beat WoW on its own turf, $40 million and 50 employees seems rather low.  If you're trying to make some niche MMORPG that only does one peculiar thing, but does it very well, you can probably do that on 1/10 of those figures--if you've got the talent for it.

  • FrostWolfieFrostWolfie Member UncommonPosts: 54

    Its not strange really that it costs that much, im suprised its so little due to the fact that small games like Full Throttle costed about 2 million and that was an adventure game, Psychonauts costed about 13 million dollars and this is from the creator himself Tim Schafers own twitter. So yeah, an mmo is -alot- bigger than any singleplayer game and thus, costs more due to longer production times.. Sure advertising and marketing cost too, but so does a 50+ man team working for years, servers etc etc...

    image

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Member RarePosts: 14,247

    Originally posted by randomt

    What he's saying is: "If you are a small company, don't bother trying to compete with the big boys!"

    They are afraid of what will happen if one of these small fries goes ahead and creates the next big mmo, and outdoing all of those big name big budget shops that have been shatting out bad mmos over the last few years. Because these big boys are so financially involved, they have to puke out a generic please-all thing to make their investors happy, creating a pile of steamy goo, instead of targeting their product specifically to a type of gamer and cornering that market.

    ...or he's being realistic and is aware of the momumental task of making and maintaining a successful MMO as well as the costs associated with doing so.

    Anyone can download an engine, use mismatched volunteer assets and make a pile of crap that no one will ever hear or care about. It costs very little to do that. To make a quality MMO that isn't just a ghetto version of WOW or EQ takes a talented team and the money/resources to turn that team's work into a cohesive, stable and engaging completed game.

     

    That being said, I am not saying people can't make an MMO for less. It's possible but not probable. A valiant few have actually tried, and by trying I mean doing more than making a zone in a free engine or arbitrary theorycrafting on forums.

    It would be great to have those people and teams, both those that have succeeded and those whose efforts weren't as fruitful, write post-mortems about the hurdles they experienced, the resources they lacked and the way they overcame each of the obstacles in the absence of buckets of cash to go the traditional routes. Here's some of the games/developers I'd be interested in hearing from as they are in or close to the category many here would be - dingle person or small team with low or no budget:

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • NaughtyPNaughtyP Member UncommonPosts: 793

    Because the CEO is at least going to take 2 million for himself and you know those other overpaid suits will cost nearly as much.

    Programmers, artists, writers, designers are likely paid (and definitely treated) like crap. I don't even want to know how badly QA and CS people are treated...

    C'mon, you know I'm right!!!

     

    Enter a whole new realm of challenge and adventure.

  • GeroltGerolt Member Posts: 98

    Originally posted by Torgrim

    Wurm is created by just one guy on his freetime, but all is relative I guess.

    I had to think of Wurm too.. although I find it questionable how much that "just one guy" actually worked on it, for all I know Wurm hasn't developed much at all since that other guy left the team.

     

    In other words, in the 5 years since Notch has left Wurm, Rolf basically seems to have added a few new servers, texture packs, icons, but very very little code. Basically all he seems to do is to increase and decrease skillgain rates and watch the troll wars on the forum about it?

     

    I like Wurm too but it's certainly not a prime example for successful indy development atm.

  • MosesZDMosesZD Member UncommonPosts: 1,361

    Originally posted by kazdum

    I was reading a interview, with what i believe is the lead developer of Guild Wars 2, he made it in 2007 and one of the things he said was "to enter in the MMO market you better have at least a 50 developer team and 40 million dollars".

    40 million dollars is alot of money, and since im really clueless about any computer developed stuff, i want to understand whats the really expensive part of it?

     

     

    Compared to SWTOR, that's chump change.   They're on-record for over $150 million and reasonable estimates are at $250 million.   I know they had a big jump in their intangible software assets (capitialized deveopment costs placed in service), but I don't know how much was SWTOR and how much was from other games...    But it was a HUGE number, well over $300 million compared to last year and it more than doubled that balance sheet category.

    So, when people say $250 million is laughably high....   It's not.   Most of what they released the past nine-months has been rehashing/expanding old games like DA2, FIFA, Madden and Battlefield.    Those have low costs beacuse they tend to just rehash most of the assets with some art/UI upgrades.

     

     

  • BanaghranBanaghran Member Posts: 869

    I think most of it is always

    a) organisational and feature creep, too many people hired to soon, a mmo is a large project, the design phase is long, if you hire 200 developers at day 1 it is likely they will have little to do till day 1000, or they will overcomplicate things (many cooks spoil the food), and focus on irrelevant issues, i read somewhere wow had just 30 core programmers, and ~1000 "peons", oficially q&a, coding common quests and secondary things

    b) quality creep, very few aspects of a mmo have to be 99% perfect, even 90% or 80%, for example character animations do not have to be motion captured, just nice and fluent, some extra ui window when buying or selling things may be incovenient, but is hardly disruptive enough to waste manweeks on recoding item handling and anti cheating mechanisms, the more you go up in quality of one feature, the more it costs, and the less time and money is left for other features, and the game as a whole can look shoddy, but with motion capture :)

    Flame on!

    :)

  • Garvon3Garvon3 Member CommonPosts: 2,898

    Originally posted by Pivotelite

    Originally posted by Garvon3

    It really isn't as expensive as people claim.

     

    I'd bet most WoW clones set aside a good 3 million to make CGI adverts and banner ads, then complain about it being "expensive". Meanwhile, 30 man companies like Aventurine make groundbreaking MMOs with only a couple million.

    The harder bit, is finding people with good game design knowledge. THat pool seems to have dried up once publishers got involved in MMOs. Now the answer is "instance every problem then copy WoW!"

      Wow if they set aside 3 million just for banner ads and CGI adverts I cant imagine how much the music development, sound recording, graphics design, coding, etc must have cost. 

     

    Regardless he's not talking about the MMOs you see advertised all over the site, he's more referring to AAA MMO titles. The ones with an actual budget.

     

    His question was "Do MMOs cost a lot to develop" the answer is, no. The so called "AAA" MMOs, are almost always the most disappointing MMOs. Why? Because that budget doesn't go to developing interesting game systems, thats too risky. That money goes to focus groups and research into copying WoW and releasing a game as close looking to WoW as possible.

    Meanwhile, the most legendary MMOs, like DAoC, UO, EQ, were created on small budgets by SKILLED DEVELOPERS. The only difference money makes is the more money pumped into an MMO project by publishers, the more likely it is to be a boring WoW clone that is super "refined" and "polished" to the point where its void of a soul.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Member RarePosts: 14,247

    Originally posted by Garvon3

    His question was "Do MMOs cost a lot to develop" the answer is, no. The so called "AAA" MMOs, are almost always the most disappointing MMOs. Why? Because that budget doesn't go to developing interesting game systems, thats too risky. That money goes to focus groups and research into copying WoW and releasing a game as close looking to WoW as possible.

    Meanwhile, the most legendary MMOs, like DAoC, UO, EQ, were created on small budgets by SKILLED DEVELOPERS. The only difference money makes is the more money pumped into an MMO project by publishers, the more likely it is to be a boring WoW clone that is super "refined" and "polished" to the point where its void of a soul.

    Can you post some data to support those statements, please?

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • Addict2mmoAddict2mmo Member UncommonPosts: 8

    I do programming myself (with game coding experience) and I can't really understand why - like OP says - a good MMO costs that much. If I had the time I made a MMO myself, problem is that it'll take like 20 years to make solo...

    I have no idea what Eve Online costed when launched in 2003, but I guess it'll be alot less?! (I mention Eve because this is the game I played most hours / years (8 years).)

  • CuathonCuathon Member Posts: 2,211

    Originally posted by Addict2mmo

    I do programming myself (with game coding experience) and I can't really understand why - like OP says - a good MMO costs that much. If I had the time I made a MMO myself, problem is that it'll take like 20 years to make solo...

    I have no idea what Eve Online costed when launched in 2003, but I guess it'll be alot less?! (I mention Eve because this is the game I played most hours / years (8 years).)

    I am making an MMO right now and what is costs is basically nothing, except time?

    I think that a lot of what MMOs cost is marketing and hype and general bureaucratic crap. Also licenses and paying off investors.

    I want to know what the profits to investors were.

    Also I suspect a lot of money was spent setting up distribution and shelf space and physical product for box sales. If all you need is a server and a website to distribute the game I bet it is a lot cheaper.

  • Garvon3Garvon3 Member CommonPosts: 2,898

    Originally posted by Loktofeit

    Originally posted by Garvon3



    His question was "Do MMOs cost a lot to develop" the answer is, no. The so called "AAA" MMOs, are almost always the most disappointing MMOs. Why? Because that budget doesn't go to developing interesting game systems, thats too risky. That money goes to focus groups and research into copying WoW and releasing a game as close looking to WoW as possible.

    Meanwhile, the most legendary MMOs, like DAoC, UO, EQ, were created on small budgets by SKILLED DEVELOPERS. The only difference money makes is the more money pumped into an MMO project by publishers, the more likely it is to be a boring WoW clone that is super "refined" and "polished" to the point where its void of a soul.

    Can you post some data to support those statements, please?

     

    DAoC was created with a team of 30 developers and 3.2 million dollars. Trying to create a mega blockbuster to compete with WoW costs a lot of money, and has failed each and every time. Meanwhile, creating an INTERESTING MMO and growing it over time, like Eve, or Darkfall, has been profitable, with steady upward population increase.

    AoC almost bankrupted Funcom. LotRO and DDO almost destroyed Turbine. If it wasn't for the money from their original MMOs, they would have imploded.

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