創造一款VR遊戲的成本計算

作者:Joe Radak

最近出現了一些關於VR遊戲融資的討論,即關於錢來自哪裏,遊戲成本是多少等等。這些討論主要是圍繞着來自像Oculus等公司的資金以及作爲接受了這些資金所交換的獨家使用權等等。我們可以找到許多關於創造VR遊戲成功昂貴以及作爲開發者的我們需要更多錢才能生存的文章。但是因爲現在在VR領域還沒有太多錢,所以我們必須想辦法去賺錢。我在幾個月前也寫過關於VR遊戲開發難度的文章。

但是在所有來自VR遊戲開發者的文章中並沒有關於創造一款VR遊戲的成本分析。這是可以理解的,畢竟很多人都是簽了保密協議,所以他們並不能對外公開這些信息。而幸運的是我能夠公開談論創造一款VR遊戲的成本,所以我將在此和你們分享我們在創造自己第一款遊戲《Light Repair Team #4》時所消耗的成本。

Light Repair Team #4(from ebay)

Light Repair Team #4(from ebay)

開始前需要注意的一些事

開始前我需要提供給你們一些關於《Light Repair Team #4》(簡稱《LRT4》)開發的背景。首先,在2016年初我自己花了14周的時間創造了《LRT4》的大部分內容(95%)。即包括編程,圖像,設計等工作。我的好朋友同時也是Eerie Bear Games聯合創始人Noah Rojahn主要負責一些棘手的編程內容。同時John Dekker和Ed Harrison創造了一些音樂能夠用於我們遊戲的預告片和背景音樂。

其次,這是一款面向HTC Vive發行的遊戲。我們將其添加到一些媒體包中並且它也獲得了“Check out these VR games”頁面的推薦,在發行還出現在一些商店的主頁中。除此之外我們還多次被一些文章所提及,即主要出現在“這是你現在可以嘗試的所有新遊戲”列表中。

再次,這是一款自給自足的遊戲。即意味着遊戲的所有成本以及和遊戲相關的所有事宜都是由我自己的積蓄所支持。我是自己爲自己買單。這聽起來可能有點奇怪,但對於理解並衡量遊戲開發成本來說非常重要。因爲不管是你自己工作還是爲別人工作,你都需要支付給自己薪資或者接受來自別人的薪資支付。

我將基於兩種方式來看待VR遊戲開發成本。首先我將着眼於自己是否給予自己時薪,因爲我是一名自由職業者。這當然不是你去計算遊戲預算的方式。

其次我將基於“適當”方式去分解遊戲成本,就像我會爲了獲取融資向Valve或Oculus宣傳遊戲。這也是所有人應該進行宣傳的方式。

1.以小時爲單位(這是錯誤的方式)

讓我們着眼於我是如何以極低的40元/每小時爲自己和Noah分發薪資的。

14周開發時間 x 1周40個小時 x 1個小時40美元=22400美元(包括原型創建,設計,圖像)

Noah工作5個小時 x 1小時40美元=200美元

設立公司的成本 + 法律事宜=3500美元

服務器成本10美元 x 3個月(我們使用的是Digital Ocean)=30美元

外包兩首音樂的成本=3萬美元

總成本=29130美元

這是一種較難管理的方法,並且因爲遊戲開發很難以小時爲單位進行預測,所以我們很難去追蹤遊戲開發週期。我們可能需要花費一個月去做某事,那我們又該如何去計算這一個月中我們花費了多少個小時呢?你不應該如此去計算遊戲預算。除此之外還有其它需要考慮的因素,即儘管一個合同工將獲得40美元的日薪,他真正拿到手的錢最多隻會是30美元,因爲在美國自由職業者需要交納至少25%的收入所得稅。所以不要這麼計算遊戲開發預算。

2.“可接受的”預算方式(正確的開始方式)

讓我們着眼於人們到底是怎麼做的。讓我們假設Noah是免費提供5個小時的勞作。

4個月 x 每個開發者1萬美元=4萬美元

設立公司的成本 + 法律事宜=35000美元

服務器成本10美元 x 3個月=30美元

外包兩首音樂的成本=3萬美元

總成本=46530美元

這便非常接近遊戲的真實預算

這是許多預算草案的標準,因爲它涵蓋了所有必要內容(遊戲邦注:包括稅收,保險等等)並且也留有一些餘地。

但等等,我似乎忘記了一些事!因爲並不是所有人都是在家工作的,所以可能還要包含辦公室裝修與維修費用。

擁有工作室的VR遊戲開發平均成本=1500美元

Vive或Rift的成本(如果你沒有開發包)=600至800美元

辦公室租賃費=500至5000美元

(良好的)網絡成本=110至180美元

每個開發者所需要的桌椅=1000美元

一般辦公用品=150美元

其它公用設備=250美元

我並未包括像Unity Pro,Maya等軟件的授權費用。

所以如果我和Noah並不是在家工作,那麼從頭開始創建一個辦公室的總成本爲(我們已經擁有免費開發工具):

2臺計算機=3000美元

1年的辦公室租賃費=6000至60000美元

1年的網絡成本=1320至2160美元

辦公室傢俱=2000美元

辦公用品=150美元(最低值)

其它能夠使用3個月的設備=750美元左右

總成本爲13220至68060美元。

所以我們應該賣出多少遊戲才能賺回這些開發成本?減去稅費,Unreal Engine的使用費以及Valve的抽成,我們只能獲得淨收益的60%。所以對於每一份全價出售(7.99美元)的遊戲,我們只能獲得5.2美元。基於錯誤預算計算便是需要賣出5602份遊戲,而基於正確預算計算則是要賣出8949份遊戲。不過這一數值可能要再高一些,因爲我們的遊戲在Steam上進行促銷。而這同時也會受到我們是否在家辦公的影響。

事實

那麼《LRT4》到底爲我們賺到多少錢呢?

這款遊戲賣出了2300份左右,爲我們公司賺取了14000美元的收益(不包括我們需要支付的稅收和其它費用)。如果你是以“最廉價“的方式進行計算,它也仍是不賺錢的。此外,在4月於Vive上發行之後,我們又在之後幾個月進行了一些更新,所以我們又爲其花費了更多錢。

當然這只是關於我們的遊戲,其它遊戲是基於完全不同的預算,但我保證有很多遊戲都不能完全賺回本。就像儘管Survios聲稱他們在幾個月後賺到了100多萬美元,但我還是好奇他們是否真的賺回了本。

我們其實是在冒險,或者說每個VR開發者都是在冒險。對我們來說,這款遊戲並未爲我們賺回本。從商人的角度來看,VR開發者是很愚蠢且魯莽的。但是VR卻真的非常吸引人。如果開發者不再魯莽,或者像Oculus或Intel等公司不再提供給開發者資金,VR便不可能長久維持下去。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

The Costs of Making a VR Game

by Joe Radak

Or, how we’re down $36,000+ after making an HTC Vive launch title.

There’s been a little bit of talk recently about VR game funding, where money comes from, how much games cost and all that. Mostly this discussion comes up around money being received from companies like Oculus, and the exclusivity rights that may be a result of accepting the money. There’s been a lot of posts about how working in VR is expensive, and we developers need money to live. And since there isn’t a lot of money in VR right now, we have to go where the money is. I even wrote about the difficulties of VR game development a few months ago.

However, in all these posts by VR game developers, no ones really broken down the cost of making a VR game. Understandable, many people are bound to NDA’s and legally cannot reveal this information. Some people are worried about the backlash they might receive for talking about it, worried it might undermine various different things. Fortunately, I can talk about money and the cost of making a VR game, and so I will talk about the cost of making my companies first title, Light Repair Team #4.

A few things before we start

Before we break it down, I do need to provide a bit of background on the development of Light Repair Team #4 (hence forth known as LRT4). First off, I made the vast majority (like, 95%) of LRT4 over a 14 week period at the beginning of 2016, by myself. Programming, Art, Design. I had assistance from my good friend and co-founder of Eerie Bear Games, Noah Rojahn for tricky programming things (For the record, Noah has done and is doing MUCH, MUCH more post-launch. He’s also sole programmer on our new game). Also, John Dekker and Ed Harrison whipped up a couple music tracks to use for our trailer and game background music.

Secondly, the game was an HTC Vive Launch title. It was included in the press package that was sent out and was featured on the “Check out these VR games” page, featured on the main storefront for some time after launch. Beyond that, we were featured in a couple articles and only mentioned in couple more, mostly as part of the “here’s all the launch titles you can play now!” lists.

Thirdly, the game was self-funded, by me. That means that all costs of the game, and things related to the game were shouldered by me and my personal savings. I did charge myself for my own time. This means that I essentially was paying myself to work on the game. It sounds like a weird concept, but it’s absolutely essential in understanding and calculating the cost of a games development. You should always pay yourself or others, for the work you/they give or do for you.

I’m going to look at the cost break down two ways. First, we’re going to look at if I was paying myself my (somewhat low) hourly rate, as if I was a freelancer. I have learned that this is absolutely not a way you should budget your game. I’m going to include a break down of if I had, however, as a way to re-enforce the point I’m going to make.

Secondly, I’ll break down the cost of the game the “proper” way, as if I was pitching the game to Valve or Oculus for funding money. This is, as I understand it, the way that everyone has and should be pitching.

First, Hourly Rates (the wrong way, worth mentioning)

So, lets look at the break down of if I charged myself and Noah at my ridiculously low freelancers rate of 40 USD/hr (This is hella low. Please refer to the Gamasutra Salary Survey from 2014 for a more accurate value)

14 weeks of development x 40 hrs a week x $40.00 USD/Hr = $22,400 USD (This includes prototyping, design, art

5 hours of Noahs time x $40.00 USD/Hr = $200 USD

Cost of setting up the company + legal = $3,500 USD

Server Costs $10/mo x 3 months (We use Digital Ocean)= $30.00 USD

Cost of commissioning two music tracks = ~$3,000 USD

Total Cost? $29,130 USD

29k for a game that had about 70 minutes of content, using the inproper way of budgeting. Like I mentioned you shouldn’t budget your game like this. This method is harder to manage and keep track of as game development cycles can be highly unpredictable at an hourly level. It might take a month to do something, but how many hours in that month? Thats harder to tell. You shouldn’t look at game budgets like this. Something else to consider; even though a contractor is getting $40/hr, they’re really only getting at most 30/hr, because in the US self-employed freelancers taxes are at least 25% of their income. Don’t ever look at game development budgets like this. Ever.

Secondly, the “accepted” way to budget (The right way to start up)

Lets look at how people actually do it. Additionally, we’ll just assume that for the sake of arguing, Noah offered his 5 hours of time for free.

~4 months x $10,000 USD per dev* = $40,000 USD

Cost of setting up the company + legal = $3,500 USD

Server Costs $10/mo x 3 months = 30.00 USD

Cost of commissioning two music tracks = ~$3,000 USD

Total Cost? $46,530 USD

This is closer to a more realistic budget for the game.

*this value is a standard for many budget proposals, as it covers all necessary things (taxes, insurance) and adds a little bit of leeway.

But wait, there’s more!

Oops! I forgot some things! Like, creating and maintaining an office, since not everyone works from home (these are all rough estimates).

Average Cost of one VR ready workstation = $1,500 USD

Cost of Vive or Rift (if you don’t get dev kits) = $600–$800 USD.

Cost of office space rental (heavily location based) = $500–5,000 USD/mo

Cost of (good) Internet = $110/mo —$180/mo

Desks and chairs per dev= $1,000 USD

General Office Supplies = ~$150/mo

Other Utilities = ~250/mo

And I’m not including the licensing fees for software Unity Pro, Maya or whatever else.

So, if Noah and I were not working from home, and building an office from scratch, the total cost would be assuming we got free dev kits:

2 Computers = $3,000 USD
1 year lease on office = $6,000–$60,000 USD
1 year internet contract = $1320–$2160 USD
Office furniture = $2,000 USD
Office Supplies = $150 (I’ll low ball it)
Other Utilities for 3 months = ~$750
Totaling anywhere between $13,220–$68,060.
Yea.

So, how many copies did we have to sell to make back development costs? After Taxes, Unreal Engine royalty payments and Valve cut, we’re only getting about 60% of our gross revenue. So, for each unit sold at full price ($7.99 USD), we’re getting about $5.20 USD. So, with the “wrong” budgeting?—?5,602 units. With the “correct” budgeting?—?8,949 units. This number will be higher though, due to the fact that we have gone on sale on Steam in all sales that we could. And this also reflects that we were working from home, on personal computers.

The Reality

After all that, how much did LRT4 earn us?

About ~2,300 units sold and ~$14,000 in revenue for the company (not including taxes and other royalty payments we have to pay). If you look at even the “cheapest” way of budgeting developers (cheapest in hindesight!), the way you should never do, it still wasn’t profitable. Additionally, after the April launch of the Vive, we did launch a few more update over the next few months?—?so more money spent there, that I didn’t even account for.

Now, this is just our game?—?other games have different budgets, but I’m certain a lot of them aren’t making their money back, truely. Even with Survios announcing that it earned a million dollars a few months back, I’d be surprised if they really turned a profit.

We took a risk. Actually, every VR developer is taking a risk. For us, it didn’t pay off financially and for others, I’m sure it hasn’t either yet. From the viewpoint of a business person, VR developers are stupid, idiotic and reckless. And for VR, thats fucking beautiful. You 100% need to be all those if you want to succeed in VR. If people weren’t being reckless and if it wasn’t for companies like Oculus or Intel shoving money at developers to soften the financial blows, VR would not last long at all. Period. End of story.(source:gamasutra)