By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry

$3.5-9 Million: Mobile Game Development Costs Keep Rising In Japan


It’s not a secret that a lot of the cost blocks acrossthe value chain in mobile gaming have been getting bigger over the last years.

This is also true with regards to development.

After all, spec bumps in hardware are leading to increased adoption of 3D graphics, games are generally deeper and more complex, and users are more demandingthan ever now.

Usually, development costs are being kept under wraps by studios, but in recent weeks, threescaled developers in Japan have disclosed some datathat I am sharing below.

Note the numbers only refer to developing games and don’t cover live operations, marketing, and other activities.

DeNA (2432)
During the earnings results briefing for DeNA’s Q4 in May, CEO Moriyasu said he sees development costs for mobile games rising in general.

He disclosedthat on average, his company calculates with around US$4.5 million in such costs per title.

GREE’sVP of Social Games Eiji Araki even went further upin April during his company’s Q3 results briefing.

According to Araki, who is also head of GREE’s top studioWright Flyer Studios, he nowadays calculates with US$4.5 million to US$9 millionin terms of development costs.

Araki also said that he expects this cost block to become bigger going forward, even for studios that use existinggame engines orrecycle content for other titles.

Ateam (3662)
For theCEO of Nagoya-based Ateam, Takao Hayashi, the situation is not that extreme.

During his company’s Q3 results briefing last month, he pegged the development costs for a mobile game in Japan at US$3.5 million currently.

He said that when taking into account overseas expansion and marketing costs in each country for Ateam’s games, the overall sum per title gets closer to US$9 million.

Hayashi added that these sums can actually be seen as a benefit for bigger studios like his, as they lift the barriers for market entry overall.

So at least for these three Japanese studios, the take-away here is that the costs for developing a mobile game locally nowadays are in the US$3.5-9 million band.

About the author

Dr. Serkan Toto

I am the CEO & Founder of Tokyo-based Kantan Games Inc., an independent consultancy focused on Japan’s game industry.

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By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry