Why Are Mobile Games So Expensive - The Reasons

Mobile games have drastically changed the game industry since they were first introduced in the early 2000s. Gone are the days when most games were exclusive to PC, console or handheld devices.

Today, most mobile games are developed for mobile platforms, which include iOS and Android. Over 70% of games played today are on mobile devices.

The most commonly used metric for measuring the success of a mobile game is how much money they make. Gamers have come to expect “free-to-play” games, where they have to pay to get items in a game.

In fact, nearly all of the mobile game market is currently dominated by such games. The closest competition to a free-to-play game in terms of revenue is likely the arcade slot machines.

However, “freemium” games (where players can buy additional levels) have rapidly increased in popularity in recent years. These “free-to-play” games have been the primary source of growth for the mobile gaming market, as developers add a new revenue stream to an already booming industry.

Most players of these games will spend very little money, while purchasing one or two small items. In many cases, the game will attract a wide audience, providing a massive increase in revenue.

Many of the highest grossing mobile games are simply the results of a well-run marketing campaign, rather than actual design. In other words, a casual mobile game like Farm Heroes Frenzy is not a poor developer, but a good advertiser.

Why are mobile games so expensive to develop?

React code example

When it comes to mobile games, one of the main cost factors is simply having a quality game. There are a wide variety of factors that can affect a game’s quality, including design, server infrastructure, and game features.

As the mobile game market has become more competitive, many game developers have turned to the marketplace to acquire a game’s funding. They will then build a game to satisfy users, and charge money for the game to reach profitability.

The average mobile game takes about six months to develop. While that is a short time frame in the game development world, six months for a mobile game is still incredibly long, especially for AAA titles.

AAA game development has rapidly increased in recent years, with studios hoping to release quality games at an accelerated rate. In a bid to keep up, many game developers have turned to crowdfunding, or have begun to use their own personal funds to quickly build games.

Many game developers now require a minimum investment for a title to be released. These minimum investments can range from $10,000-$30,000, and will often be required in order to receive any sort of assistance from game publisher.

For these projects, independent developers are the key to the success of the game. Many developers are able to get funding from investors, or from crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter.

The first place crowdfunding is commonly used for mobile games is for crowd-funding sites, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. While a great deal of money is raised by these sites, most of it will end up with the developers.

This makes crowdfunding essentially a lottery. Gamers generally are most interested in the projects they think they will be most interested in. This is why the well-known Kickstarter is often used to raise money for indie games, such as ones created by other indie developers.

Another method of raising funding for mobile games is through pre-orders

close-up photo of assorted coins

Several companies are attempting to develop a mechanism that will enable them to raise funds before a game has even been built.

While there is little to no proof that pre-orders have any effect on the amount of money a game will generate, it does allow the developers to bypass the traditional game development process, and do everything in-house.

Another popular method of funding mobile games is through pre-registration, which is also called in-app purchase (IAP).

With this method, players are charged either a set amount, or for each in-app purchase they make in-game. This method works great for games such as Angry Birds. The high price of the initial download, along with IAPs allow the developer to turn a profit without the need of the money coming from traditional game publisher.

Further, with this method, the developers are able to sell advertising, which further increases the amount of revenue the game can generate. Gamers can also give ratings to games, which increases the amount of marketing the developer receives.

Another route many developers take to find funding for their game is through Android licensing. Android is a popular operating system that is compatible with all mobile devices.

However, the key aspect of this process is that developers have to leave out certain aspects of their game in order to allow the platform to operate properly.

This means that some aspects of games will not work properly on Android devices. Therefore, this option is only a viable option for a small percentage of developers.


Corona Wash & Vax, a game by KOBU Agency. Play it at www.coronawashandvax.com

While many people think of crowdfunding, pre-orders, and Android licensing as ways to raise money for mobile games, the most popular way to fund mobile games is through the sale of a game on a console.

This has become a very popular method of monetization, and is usually the most lucrative for the developers, as they can easily net the same amount of money in a single console sale, as they could in multiple mobile purchases.

Now, you’re probably wondering: What are your thoughts?

Do you have any tips or recommendations? What makes you think mobile game developers are unique?

If so, I’d love to hear your comments.

And, as always, thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.