Video games have become a multi-billion dollar industry in recent years, with millions of players worldwide. Developing a video game is not an easy task and requires a lot of time, effort, and resources. The development process can vary significantly depending on the type of game, the size of the team, and the available resources. In this article, we will answer some of the questions every beginner game dev is asking, like How Long Does it Take to Develop AAA Games?, How Long Does It Take To Develop Indie Games? and How Long Does It Take To Develop Mobile Games? and What Impacts The Speed of Game Development? How Long Does it Take to Make a Video Game?
How Long Does it Take to Develop AAA Games?
AAA games are big-budget titles that are typically developed by large teams and are often published by major game companies. These games have high production values and are usually released on multiple platforms. Developing a AAA game can take anywhere from two to five years, depending on the complexity of the game, the size of the team, and the available resources.
Duke Nukem Forever holds the Guinness world record for the longest development for a video game, at 14 years and 43 days.
One of the main factors that impact the development time of AAA games is the complexity of the game. Games with complex mechanics, open-world environments, and advanced graphics require more development time than simpler games. For example, Grand Theft Auto V took five years to develop, and its open-world environment, advanced physics engine, and high-quality graphics were major contributing factors to its development time.
Another factor that affects the development time of AAA games is the size of the team. AAA games are typically developed by large teams including hundreds of developers, designers, artists, and other professionals. Managing a team of this size can be a complex and time-consuming task.
Lastly, the available resources also play a significant role in the development time of AAA games. High-budget games have access to more resources, such as cutting-edge technology, advanced tools, and state-of-the-art facilities, which can speed up the development process.
How Long Does It Take To Develop Indie Games?
Indie games are typically developed by small teams or even solo developers, and they are often self-funded or funded through crowdfunding platforms. These games are usually simpler in design and scope, but they can still be highly engaging and enjoyable. The development time for indie games can vary widely, but on average, it takes anywhere from six months to three years to develop an indie game.
The main factor that affects the development time of indie games is the scope of the game. Indie games are typically simpler in design and scope, which can lead to a shorter development time. For example, games like Among Us and Stardew Valley took around two and four years, respectively, to develop, and their relatively simple mechanics and graphics contributed to their development time.
Funding can also impact the development time of indie games. Indie developers often have limited resources and rely on self-funding or crowdfunding platforms to finance their projects. This can lead to a slower development time since the developer may need to work on other projects to finance the development of the game. Sometimes indie game developers leave their jobs and risk everything in the name of their dream – to make video games. Sometimes they manage to finish their first game, sometimes, they don’t.
How Long Does It Take To Develop Mobile Games?
Mobile games are really popular because they are great for casual games who play on their way to work, school, etc. Everybody has a smartphone in their pocket and that makes mobile games easily accessible. Mobile games are games that are designed to be played on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These games are typically simpler in design and scope than AAA games and are often developed by smaller teams. The development time for mobile games can vary widely, but on average, it takes anywhere from three to nine months to develop a mobile game.
Simple mobile games, such as puzzle games or casual games, can be developed in a matter of weeks or months, while more complex mobile games, such as RPGs or strategy games, can take a year or more to develop.
One factor that can impact the speed of mobile game development is the platform. Developing games for iOS and Android can require different coding languages and development tools, affecting the development time. Some developers choose to develop for both platforms simultaneously, which can increase development time.
Another factor that can impact the speed of mobile game development is team size. Smaller teams may be able to develop mobile games more quickly, but larger teams may have more resources and expertise to create more complex and polished games.
What Impacts The Speed of Game Development?
The speed of game development is impacted by several factors, including funding, scope, game length, depth of the world, and unforeseen setbacks. Adequate funding can speed up game development by providing access to more resources, such as staff and software tools. However, limited funding can lead to delays and longer development times.
The scope of the game also plays a significant role in game development speed. Larger games with more levels, a bigger game world, and more complex game mechanics will take longer to develop than smaller games with limited scope. Game length is another factor that can impact development speed. Longer games require more content to be created and take more time to develop.
The depth of the game world is also a factor that impacts development speed. Creating a rich, detailed game world takes time and effort. Unforeseen setbacks, such as technical issues, delays in equipment delivery or software upgrades, or team member illness or burnout, can significantly impact development speed.
One of the most critical factors that impact the speed of game development is funding. Developing a video game requires a significant amount of financial investment, and the more money that is available, the more resources can be dedicated to the project, potentially speeding up development time. AAA games have millions of dollars in budgets, while indie studios often struggle to find funding from crowdfunding platforms, investors, or publishers.
With adequate funding, developers can hire more staff, purchase better equipment, and access better software tools. More resources mean more people working on different aspects of the game, which can speed up development time. On the other hand, limited funding can lead to development delays, as teams may not have access to the resources they need to complete tasks efficiently. Of course, money is not the only factor that defines the success of a video game. There are examples of games that got the money but failed, like CD Projekt Red’s title Cyberpunk. Later with patches, the game got better but when it launched it was full of bugs that made it unplayable. So, not everything is about money! It takes time, a good idea, a good team, a lot of hard word, and a big of luck to make a good game!
The scope of the game is another crucial factor that can impact the speed of game development. The larger the scope of the game, the more time it takes to develop. The game’s scope includes the number of levels, the size of the game world, the complexity of the game mechanics, and the number of characters and items in the game.
Developers must balance the scope of the game with the resources available to them. Creating a game with a large scope requires more resources, which can increase development time. On the other hand, limiting the scope of the game can speed up development time, but it may also limit the game’s potential. Many indie game developers make a common mistake – they start to develop a game that turns really big in scope for a small team to finish. It’s good to dream big, but if you want to succeed in the game dev business you should consider your resources in the first place. It’s better to finish a small project you can add to your portfolio that to lose years in developing a game that you can not finish.
The length of the game can also impact the speed of game development. Developing a longer game requires more time to create the necessary content, such as levels, characters, and storylines. Shorter games, on the other hand, can be developed more quickly, as they require less content to be created. We all love AAA games like God of War. They offer dozen or even hundreds of hours of gameplay, and the player gets really immersed in the world. But don’t forget they are made of large teams. So, again, if you are an indie – dream big but start smart. Try at first to make a small simple game. If you can find the money and the team for a bigger game later, great! But at the beginning, be patient and clever about the game’s length and resources needed to finish it.
Depth of the World
We all love AAA open-world titles. They’re exciting and immersive… and require a huge amount of resources to make! The depth of the game world is another factor that can impact the speed of game development. Creating a rich, detailed game world takes time and effort, as developers need to create the environment, characters, and lore that make up the game’s world. You need a really good team of professionals like environment and character concept artists, 3D artists, game designers, level designers, sound engineers, programmers, etc.
Developing a game with a shallow world, on the other hand, may require less time to develop. However, a shallow world may limit the game’s potential and limit player engagement, leading to lower sales and popularity. So, here comes the money again. If you have the resources to hire pros – go big, if you don’t – stay small, but still do the game!
Finally, unforeseen setbacks can also impact the speed of game development. These can include technical issues, such as bugs and glitches, delays in equipment delivery or software upgrades, or team member illness or burnout. These setbacks can significantly impact development time, leading to delays in release and increased costs.
Developers must plan for unforeseen setbacks by building contingencies into the development timeline. This can include setting aside additional time and resources for testing and debugging, hiring additional team members to assist with the development, or establishing backup equipment or software.
But sometimes you can’t foresee everything – nature has its own agenda. That was the case with No Man’s Sky studio, which got flooded on Christmas Eve 2013 because of a severe storm in the UK. Everything was underwater. Imagine how bad that would have been for the game developers!
In conclusion, developing a video game requires significant investment in time, money, and resources. The speed of game development can vary widely, depending on several factors, including funding, scope, game length, depth of the world, and unforeseen setbacks. Developers must carefully balance these factors to ensure successful and timely game release. This is easy to be said than done. While big studios have big teams and people who take care of every aspect of the game development in indie studios, things aren’t so well organized. They need some time to get on track and make things work. After all, the game industry is a good place to be if you’re creative and video games are your thing! And if you want to learn more about it, feel free to check out our game design courses!