So, how much does it cost to create a video game like Dawnmaker? I thought it would be interesting to give you a breakdown of our current numbers.

Even a rather "small" game like Dawnmaker costs a lot of money to make. Our current estimation is that the game will require, from its beginning to its official release, 520k€ to make.

The art of not paying ourselves

At the time of writing, we have invested about 170k€ in the game. Does it mean we have actually spent all that money? Nope, because for most of the duration of the project until now, Alexis and I haven't paid ourselves. But that doesn't mean we're working for free: our work is still valued, and enters the budget. I estimate that we have currently not-paid ourselves 90k€ — that's what the company should have paid for our salaries : remove about half of it in various social contributions and taxes to get what we would have received.

The remaining 80k€ is money that we've actually spent. We've had a few freelances and employees that we paid. We've moved to some events (like the Game Camp this month) to talk to publishers and show our game. We're paying for services, like our documentation system, our email system, etc. And then there's the rest, all the little things that you don't necessarily think about but that add up to a significant amount of money: lawyers, accountants, payroll, insurances and so on.

Where did that money come from? A big chunk of it is personal savings put into the company by Alexis and I. The rest is public funding: we've received financial help from the BPI (the French Investment Bank) and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. We're quite lucky in France that we have a good ecosystem of public funding, mainly with the CNC (National Cinema Center) and the BPI, and those days with more and more regions contributing as well.

On to the future

I said earlier that our estimated total budget was of 520k€. If we remove the already "spent" 170k€, that leaves us with a remaining 350k to spend. Those are mostly composed of salaries: ours of course, but also those of the team we want to assemble. We intend to grow to a team of 7 people in order to take Dawnmaker to the finish line. Our ideal team would be: a game designer (that's me), an art director (that's Alexis), a programmer, a 3D modeler, a UX / UI designer, a community manager and a producer. Of course, this is a projection given our current vision for the game, and it might evolve based on, well, many things: our vision, our finances, our partners, various opportunities, etc.

Anyway, my point is that it takes a lot of people to make great video games (there are exceptions of course — I'm thinking about you Miju Games), and people need to be paid for their work. We also have a principle that we want to pay people, and ourselves, decently. Hence, each individual contributor would cost between 3.5k and 5k€ to the company monthly. Multiply that by 7 people, over about 10 months, and you get an estimate of 300k€. The remaining 50k are for running the company, as I mentioned before: paying services, moving folks around, and so on. The more people you have, the more those little things add up!

After we've released Dawnmaker, I want to write another post about cost and compare what I wrote here today with what the actual cost of the game will be. We all have a tendency to under-estimate costs, let's see how we will turn out!

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