serkan AT kantan-games.co.jp

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

It’s not a secret that a lot of the cost blocks across the 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 demanding than ever now.

Usually, development costs are being kept under wraps by studios, but in recent weeks, three scaled developers in Japan have disclosed some data that 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 disclosed that on average, his company calculates with around US$4.5 million in such costs per title.

GREE (3632)
GREE’s VP of Social Games Eiji Araki even went further up in April during his company’s Q3 results briefing.

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

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

Ateam (3662)
For the CEO 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.

Serkan Toto About Serkan Toto
I am the CEO & Founder of Kantan Games, Inc., a Tokyo-based game industry consultancy focused on the Japanese market. Please subscribe to updates on this site via RSS or Email.