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  • Taisiia Dobrozorova

How Long Does It Take To Develop a Game?

So, you've got a game idea burning in your mind, and you're itching to see it come to life. But just how long does it take to develop a game? Well, the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think.


From idea generation to the final finished product, several factors come into play that influence the game development timeline. In this article, we'll break down these factors, explore the various stages of game development, and offer some insights into reducing development time.


How long does it take to develop a game

Key Factors Affecting Game Development Time


Before diving into specific timelines, let's consider the key factors that can significantly impact the duration of game development:


  1. Scope and Complexity. The size and complexity of your game concept play a crucial role. A simple 2D puzzle game will take considerably less time to develop compared to a sprawling open-world RPG.

  2. Team Size and Expertise. The size and expertise of your development team can greatly affect development time. A larger team with diverse skills might expedite the process, whereas a smaller team may take longer to accomplish tasks.

  3. Technology and Tools. The choice of game engine, development tools, and technology stack can influence development speed. Familiarity with the tools also plays a role in efficiency.

  4. Budget and Resources. Accurately calculating development costs and using enough resources can speed up development, allowing you to hire more people, use better tools, and outsource certain tasks.

  5. Creative Iteration and Testing. Iterating on game mechanics, art assets, and gameplay through testing phases can extend development time but often leads to a higher-quality end product.


How Long Does It Take To Develop a Game by Genres

Casual or Mobile Games

The development time depends on the complexity of the casual game.

A few months - 1-2 years (depending on the complexity).

2D Platformer or Puzzle Games

The time required is almost the same as with casual games.

6 months - 2 years

3D Action/Adventure Games

The more complex gameplay and design you have - the more time you'll need.

1-3 years or more

Role-Playing Games (RPGs)

RPGs are typically among the most time-consuming to develop due to their complex gameplay systems, narrative depth, and extensive content.

2-5 years

First-Person Shooter (FPS) Games

The development time for FPS games can vary widely depending on factors such as the complexity of level design, AI behavior, multiplayer features, and graphical fidelity.

A smaller-scale FPS might take around 1-2 years, while larger, more ambitious projects can take 3 years or more.

Real-Time Strategy (RTS) or Turn-Based Strategy Games

Developing strategy games can be time-intensive due to complex AI systems, balance considerations, and intricate game mechanics.

1-3 years

Simulation Games

Simulation games often require detailed mechanics and systems to simulate real-world phenomena, which can extend development time.

1-3 years

Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) Games

MMOs are some of the most ambitious and time-consuming projects to develop due to their massive scale, persistent worlds, and complex networking requirements.

3-7 years

We specifically did not include the time for creating AAA games in this table, since they require a more detailed analysis. You can find AAA game development timelines towards the end of this article.


Game Development Process Stages



Game development typically follows a series of stages, each with its own timeline and set of tasks:


Concept and Pre-production


This phase involves brainstorming ideas, conceptualizing gameplay mechanics, creating design documents, and planning the project scope. Depending on the complexity of the game, this stage can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.


Production


The production phase is where the bulk of the development work happens. Tasks include coding, creating art assets, designing levels, and implementing gameplay features. The duration of this phase varies widely based on the game's complexity but can range from several months to several years for large-scale projects.


Testing and Iteration


Once the core features are implemented, extensive testing and iteration are necessary to polish the game and address bugs and balance issues. This phase can take several weeks to several months, depending on the scope of the game and the thoroughness of testing.


Polishing and Release


In the final stage, the focus shifts to polishing the game, optimizing performance, and preparing for release. This phase typically takes several weeks to a few months, depending on the platform and distribution method.


How Long Does It Take To Create GDD (Game Design Document)?


A Game Design Document (GDD) serves as the framework for a game, laying out its concept, mechanics, story, and other key elements. The time required to create a GDD may vary depending on the complexity of the game and the level of detail required. Typically, creating a comprehensive GDD can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.


How Much Time Do You Need To Write Code For a Video Game?


Coding is a fundamental aspect of game development, and the time required to write code for a video game depends on various factors, including:


  • Complexity of the Game. Simple games with basic mechanics may require only a few weeks of coding, while complex AAA titles can take years to develop.

  • Programming Language and Tools. Familiarity with the programming language and development tools can significantly impact coding speed.

  • Team Collaboration. Collaboration among programmers and other team members can streamline the coding process.


How Long Does it Take to Create Sound Effects and Music For a Video Game?



Sound effects and music are integral parts of the gaming experience, setting the mood and enhancing immersion. The time required to create them depends on several factors such as:


Genres of music


Different genres of music require varying amounts of time to compose and produce. For example, simple ambient tracks might take less time than complex orchestral compositions.


Soundtrack creation


Creating a full soundtrack for a game can be a time-consuming process, involving composing, recording, and mixing multiple tracks to fit different gameplay scenarios.


Adaptive Music


Some games feature adaptive music systems that dynamically adjust the soundtrack based on player actions or in-game events. Implementing such systems can extend the time required for music production.


Other Factors Affecting Game Creation Time


Are you still not sure if you took everything into account before you started creating your game? Then you're maybe right. In addition to other factors, there are several not-so-obvious issues. Let's make a final check!


1. Platform Porting


If you're going to play the game on multiple platforms (e.g., PC, consoles, mobile), porting and optimizing the game for each platform can add considerable time to the development process. Each platform may have its own technical requirements and performance considerations.


2. Localization


Localizing a game for different languages and regions involves translating text, adapting cultural references, and ensuring compatibility with regional standards. This process can extend development time, especially for games with extensive dialogue or text-based content.


3. Legal and Compliance Requirements


Compliance with legal regulations, such as copyright laws, age ratings, and platform-specific guidelines (e.g., Apple App Store or Google Play Store policies), is crucial for releasing a game. Ensuring compliance may involve additional documentation, testing, and communication with regulatory bodies, which can affect development time.


4. Marketing and Promotion


Planning and executing marketing campaigns to promote the game before and after release is essential for its success. Integrating marketing efforts into the development timeline, such as creating trailers, social media content, and press releases, can impact the overall development schedule.


5. Post-launch Support and Updates


Providing ongoing support, updates, and patches for the game post-launch is necessary to address issues, introduce new features, and maintain player engagement. Allocating resources and planning for post-launch support from the outset can affect the initial development timeline.


6. Monetization Strategy


Designing and implementing monetization strategies, such as in-app purchases, microtransactions, or subscription models, requires careful consideration and integration into the game. Balancing monetization with gameplay experience and player satisfaction may influence development priorities and timelines.


7. Community and Player Feedback


Engaging with the community and gathering player feedback through alpha and beta testing phases can help refine the game and improve its quality. Incorporating feedback into the development process may result in iterative changes that affect the overall timeline.


8. External Dependencies


Dependencies on third-party services, libraries, or hardware components may introduce risks and delays into the development schedule. Managing dependencies and contingency plans for potential issues can mitigate their impact on development time.


How Long Does It Take To Develop AAA Games?


AAA games, known for their high production values and large budgets, typically take 4-10 years to develop. The exact timeline can vary depending on factors such as the scope of the game, the size of the development team, and the technology used. Some AAA titles may take 5 or more years from conception to release. Let's see on the examples.


Cyberpunk 2077


  • Developed by CD Projekt Red.

  • Development began in 2012, with the game releasing in December 2020.

  • Approximately 8 years of development time.

Red Dead Redemption 2


  • Developed by Rockstar Games.

  • Development reportedly began after the release of the original Red Dead Redemption in 2010, with the game releasing in October 2018.

  • Approximately 8 years of development time.

The Last of Us Part II


  • Developed by Naughty Dog.

  • While exact development timelines are not publicly disclosed, it's estimated that the game underwent around 5-6 years of development.

  • The game was released in June 2020.

Final Fantasy XV


  • Developed by Square Enix.

  • Originally announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006, it underwent numerous changes and a full-scale development reboot before being rebranded as Final Fantasy XV.

  • The game was released in November 2016, resulting in a development period of over 10 years.


How Long Does It Take To Develop Mobile Games?


Mobile games, often simpler in scope compared to AAA titles, can be developed in a matter of months. The development timeline for mobile games depends on factors such as the complexity of the game, the size of the development team, and the chosen platform(s). Simple mobile games might be developed in a few weeks, while more complex ones could take several months to a year.


What is Development Hell?


Have you heard about this term, but still not sure what it means. Let's find this out once and for all! Development Hell refers to a prolonged and troubled development process that often results in delays, budget overruns, and quality issues. Several reasons can contribute to Development Hell, including:


  • Scope creep: constantly expanding the scope of the game beyond initial plans.

  • Technical challenges: unexpected technical hurdles or limitations that impede progress.

  • Poor management: ineffective project management, communication issues, or leadership problems.


How To Reduce Game Development Time?


While game development is inherently time-consuming, several strategies can help reduce development time and streamline the process:


  • Set Clear Goals and Scope. Define clear project goals and scope to avoid scope creep and keep the development focused.

  • Use Agile Development Methodologies. Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban promote iterative development and frequent feedback, allowing for faster adaptation to changes.

  • Leverage Existing Assets and Tools. Utilize pre-existing assets, game engines, and development tools to speed up development and reduce resource requirements.

  • Outsource Non-Core Tasks. Consider outsourcing tasks like art asset creation or sound design to specialized professionals or studios to free up internal resources.


Building an Efficient Development Team: Work with HitBerry Games


At HitBerry Games, we understand the importance of efficient game development. With years of experience in the industry, our team of seasoned professionals is equipped to tackle projects of any size and complexity. Here's how we can help!


HitBerry Games Expertise in Game Development


  • Diverse Skill Sets. Our team comprises experts in various fields, including game design, programming, art, and sound design, ensuring comprehensive support throughout the development process.

  • Proven Track Record. We have a proven track record of delivering high-quality games on time and within budget, thanks to our efficient project management and development processes.

  • Collaborative Approach. We believe in close collaboration with our clients, keeping them involved in every step of the development process to ensure their vision is realized.


Conclusion


So, how long does it take to develop a game? As you've learned, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The timeline varies depending on factors such as

scope, complexity, team size, technology, and more.


Therefore, we advise you to think about everything in detail, try to calculate an approximate budget or define parts that you want to outsource, and of course, contact a team of experts!




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