How Much Does It Cost To Run An Indie Studio?

Being an indie developer means you don't need any money and can still somehow survive and make great games, right? Right? *tumbleweed* Despite the preconception that indie development teams can make magic out of nothing, this is actually far from the case. Click through to see the full break-down.

Over at Joystiq, indie studio Cipher Prime (Auditorium, Pulse, Fractal) has created a visual breakdown of what $15,000 means for their studio. While $15,000 seems like a lot of money (and is actually larger than most government grants), it quickly becomes evident that $15,000 does not go very far in game development, especially if you intend on paying your team.

Obviously every game development studio operates differently and some teams will require more or less money depending on the size of their team and the tools they use. In Cipher Prime's case, they've calculated the cost of wages, rent, utilities, web servers, food, professional fees and services but have left out the cost of getting a Pro License of Unit (which costs $6000) and health insurance (which costs at least several hundreds of dollars per person in the US).

Those government grants sure are looking tiny.

[Joystiq]


Comments

    Man those US wages (and their corresponding low cost of living).

      for you those are low cost of living
      but here in a 3rd world country somebody giving a $100 man you got gold in your hand man :/
      if your saying US is a place for low cost living its only because of your perspective

    That's... disheartening.

      And that's only one month... =/

      Maybe, but it's very important to know. It's easy to think that a successful indy studio made all it's money back on day one doesn't need your money, but if they're charging $10 for a game they need to sell 1500 copies of the game per month of development (not taking into account sales, price cuts and fees), plus a few thousand more for the beginning and end of the development cycle, just to cover the money you spent during production (saying nothing of actually keeping the business running post-launch).

      That's not to say that Indy development is more trouble than it's worth. Any business that size is hard to run/costly, but still find a way to do it every day.

    Gabe Newall once said it costs ~5 million USD per hour of game time in development (I believe it was based on the cost to develop HL2)

    My Unity Pro license was only $1500 but I'm guessing they have all the license options ios/android included.

    OMG Pacman is vomitting a rainbow.

    Asides from that, well it's surprising to me that these guys pay even worse then the studios I've worked for, but if they're operating on 15k a month then maybe that's their excuse?

      "OMG Pacman is vomitting a rainbow."

      I have seen it! I cannot un-see it now :(

    Not that I'm having a serious go at them (in fact, kudos to them for their openness), but why does a company need to purchase food? I've always had to buy my own lunch >.>

      You'd be suprised at how much some companies will spend on food. In this example there is only 4 guys, but they are going to want coffee, tea, milk, biscuits and sugar for starters. Plus they may staff events with food and such.

      It all adds up.

      Our office provides soft drinks and chocolates and Mark probably goes through $100 of Pepsi Max a month... so!

        Considering a slab of Pepsi Max cans can go for as low as $18 at Coles, I'm starting to feel concerned for Serrles' health

        Jealous - I always have to provide my own Pepsi Max - not so the staid coffee drinkers in my office.

        Still earning more than that appalling developer wage kind of makes up for it.

    I always find these stats really interesting.

    Yeah i think when i was 18 and i was offered to go and study game development and 3D and chose not to.. I made a wise decision. I earn $21 an hour now sitting my arse surfing the website, dribbling on my self, clicking a mouse and occasionally i fix a computer or setup a network. I do a solid 1 hour of actual work in a day and achieve target results at the end of the month. Oh and lots of perks such as a fridge stocked with beer and food, car which i don't pay petrol for, i get a 60 day account on any purchases i make, i get free training paid and provided by work and i basically get to run my own shit without a manager on my back about those TPS reports. Seriously game devleopment would have been a 10 year enslavement compared to the job i have now and i am still in that bracket of lower-middle class who dont earn enough to even own a house yet. But im happy and i dont work a single day in my life so im cheering!

      yo, cool story bro, tell it again sometime

        Yeah so i said the other day: "Yeah i think when i was 18 and i was offered to go and study game development and 3D and chose not to.. I made a wise decision. I earn $21 an hour now sitting my arse surfing the website, dribbling on my self, clicking a mouse and occasionally i fix a computer or setup a network. I do a solid 1 hour of actual work in a day and achieve target results at the end of the month. Oh and lots of perks such as a fridge stocked with beer and food, car which i don’t pay petrol for, i get a 60 day account on any purchases i make, i get free training paid and provided by work and i basically get to run my own shit without a manager on my back about those TPS reports. Seriously game devleopment would have been a 10 year enslavement compared to the job i have now and i am still in that bracket of lower-middle class who dont earn enough to even own a house yet. But im happy and i dont work a single day in my life so im cheering!"

    Heehhh try joining a band. And yeah, mad story Ben, mad story. But yeah, if you want to get into something 'creative', don't count on making money for a while.

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