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How much does it cost to self publish mobile games?

After a year of subscribing to Buildbox, here is a run down of my up front expenses for being a solo indie game developer.

  1. Private Mail Box – get this first, before you get a dot com. $120/year.
  2. Dot Com – use your private mail box for the public contact info when you register a dot com. It is a good idea to not put your home address on domain registrations, so get a local PMB address. Domain registration is about $12/year.
  3. Hosting – you need to host your game’s web site which should include game info, contact email & PMB address, and a privacy policy you can directly link to. Web hosting is about $100/year.
  4. Game Engine Software – I am an artist, not a coder so I use Buildbox subscription software to help me design my games. There are free options out there, but Pro version is $500/year.
  5. Apple App Store Developer Account – $100/year
  6. Google Play Developer Account – $80/year
  7. To self publish on Steam – $100/per game!
  8. Making game art, and promotional videos require software. Photoshop is $10/month, Video editing software…???$$$
  9. To publish Buildbox games on Apple App Store you need an iPhone and a Mac desktop or laptop with XCode to generate your final build for publishing. That’s about $3000!!!
  10. To publish Buildbox games on Google Play you need an Android phone to test games on, and you must master Android Studio to generate your final build for publishing. If you want to publish for both iOS and Andoid, you would need both types of phones and gear to test games on. This adds up fast – $$$$$!!!!!!!
  11. Don’t forget your computer gear, internet access to run cloud software, wireless routers… we take a lot of this for granted, but the bills come every month!
  12. TIME – you will need 40-80 hours to make a very basic game from scratch. Your first year will be spent searching and watching YouTube game dev tutorial videos as you learn the new software.

So now I understand why game developers all seem so stressed out. I created 10 little mobile games my first year. I made $100 on the ads in that year. I invested over $1000 to do it.

I see the loss as the price for my education. Now I must take what I have learned my first year, and include a better business plan into my game design. I believe the games should at least pay for themselves.

So there you go. You can now easily see why a solid business plan is essential to succeed in the saturated mobile game market. Be kind to your local indie game developer. They are trying to balance a lot, all at once.