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Development costs 'tripled' for NGP and 3DS

Due to the technological advances in both the 3DS and NGP, handheld game development costs could be up to three times as much as those of previous generations.


The next generation of handheld gaming is almost upon us. However, some developers are saying that the technological advances present in both Sony's NGP and Nintendo's 3DS mean that the average cost of developing a game for one of these devices could be more than three times the cost of making a portable game on last generation's devices. (via Develop)

"If you wanted to spend console money on developing a PSP2 or 3DS title, every penny of it would show, and clearly some of the launch titles have budgets two-to-three times what typical DS games have seen in the past," said JC Connors of Griptonite Games, one of Foundation 9 Entertainment's development studios.

Developer Rebellion's co-founder Chris Kingsley also rightly noted that consumers will expect more from next-gen handheld titles, due to the more advanced hardware. "With more powerful machines to develop on, expectations are higher and you have to spend more time and money creating larger and more detailed worlds," he said, before concluding in Spider Man-like fashion, "With more power comes greater expectation." Rebellion has adapted its Asura engine (used for mobile games) to work with both the NGP and 3DS.

In practical terms, the early consensus is that development costs for games on either of these next-gen handhelds could surpass $1 million on a regular basis. One can assume that some of this additional expense will invariably be passed on to the consumer.

The Nintendo 3DS hits the streets on March 25, though a release date for the Sony NGP has yet to be announced.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 11, 2011 5:00 PM

    Comment on Development costs 'tripled' for NGP and 3DS, by Jeff Mattas.

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      March 11, 2011 5:32 PM


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      March 11, 2011 7:06 PM

      This news has "shaken" me.

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      March 11, 2011 8:32 PM

      Not good. NGP I can understand but why is the 3DS so much more expensive.

      Also, don't give the NGP much chance of success. Not against Nintendo and I'll bet Sony's asking price for the unit will be over $300.

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        March 11, 2011 8:44 PM

        N64 -> GC + 3D?

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        March 11, 2011 8:45 PM

        Because it jumped from a ~Pentium 90 to a ~Pentium III+GPU system. The DS could run something slightly more advanced than Quake, where as the 3DS can probably pull off Quake3+.

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        March 11, 2011 9:47 PM

        3DS is more powerful and has a higher resolution display than the DS. In relation to the typical DS game it wouldn't be a surprise if costs increased due to the more powerful hardware.

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        March 12, 2011 5:41 AM

        While the 3DS isn't a workhorse compared to the NGP, it still has 4x the cpu and 16x the memory the DS has ... quite a bit more. Development costs compared to a DS title will be significantly higher, and approach Wii development costs ... as the GPU capabilities are beyond the Wii and require a considerable amount of content creation time.

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      March 11, 2011 8:52 PM

      Not surprising really.

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      March 11, 2011 8:56 PM

      This is because they are not factoring in porting from home consoles. That should be considerably cheaper if Sony's done their job and made it relatively painless to port between the PS platforms. Also, I think that if Sony and Nintendo want to survive as portable gaming platforms, then they need to realize the future is smaller purchases that allow you to buy or not buy as much as you want.

      If they were smart, they'd go ports of home console titles (ie., Mario 64 DS, Star Fox, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina, SF IV, Splinter Cell 3), except releasing them at the same time as releases for the home versions. And add to that with episodic content facilitated by the online stores. Instead of paying $50 for one NGP game, you pay $10 for one of five chapters, enabling $45 bundles when guaranteed sales.

      This is Nintendo complaining like the music companies complaining because no one buys albums anymore, preferring to buy only the songs that they want. Games should be broken up in the same way so we can buy the awesome levels and when it's a portal room (Dante's Inferno) level or Cubicle #209 Level in Fear, we can just say, "Skipping that chapter and I'll check back in when they offer something interesting."

      It will encourage better games with more interesting gameplay, it'll give us only what we want a la carte, and it'll give developers time to be sure each level is polished. If a game is not working, a developer can either change course with the next level (or set of levels) OR that developer can just stop making the game that just isn't working. Imagine if GRIN had been stopped after the first level of Bionic Commando when sales were tanking and Capcom had just stopped development there. How much money would they have saved just by having the option?

      Development costs don't have to triple because there are options out there, especially for the NGP, to keep costs low. That'll only happen if developers realize that the landscape has changed. Digital distribution offers a lot of opportunities for improvement.

      And hell, by doing it this way, they'll probably curb a decent amount of piracy too. They could even go back to a place where demos become shareware and shareware becomes Level 1 of a game for free, the next set of levels for money.

      Instead, Nintendo'll keep right on trudging with their plan of burying their head in the sand and not looking around at all the changes that could happen to help them profit from the way things are now. Instead of blaming "low value" and "tripling costs of games," we should just blame the real problem. These industry stalwarts are incapable of making the changes necessary to survive.

      At least, that's how they look... so far...

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        March 12, 2011 5:13 AM

        I would Hate this. "Sorry Mario the princess is in another castle. Please purchase Ice world, Fire World, Goomba World, or Star world for $3.99 each from the Nintendo store to continue your adventure."

        I don't want all iPhone games for a portable system. I get that there are some good ones out there, but a huge chunk are shovelware or short and very simplistic.

        Most of the games i play on my DS are RPG's or platformers, which with the touch screen control screen still suck on a phone, I want the full game. I am sick of everything on console/PC land being broken up by Sucks having to go back/ Finding the desire to go back into games 7 months after you beat the main campaign just to see what the DLC is.

        Phone games are Comics and PSP/DS games are books. One is good for a quick instant gratification read and the other for more thoughtful read through that you can put down and comeback to.

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      March 11, 2011 8:56 PM

      still a lot less than ps3/360 though so it should be ok

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      March 11, 2011 9:03 PM

      I'm sorry but I don't buy it. The way I look at it, the more powerful systems just allow them to make more detailed and advanced games... it doesn't mean the HAVE to make them so crazy. Two of the biggest games of the last several months are Angry Birds and Minecraft... and neither one of them had a billion dollar development budget. Make great games... and they will come.

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      March 12, 2011 2:17 AM

      Hopefully this will discourage shovelware developers.

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        March 12, 2011 3:01 AM

        True that could be a pleasant side effect!

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        March 12, 2011 4:36 AM

        zing! but really.. this needs to happen.

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        March 12, 2011 5:10 AM

        Why? That shovelware outsells the games that actually cost money to develop.

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          March 12, 2011 5:46 AM

          Exactly, shovelware games are the only ones that won't get any more expensive.

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      March 12, 2011 7:37 AM

      This is why I think someone needs to invest more into middleware solutions. We need to bring costs og games down so developers can actually make what they want rather than trying to hit "big markets".

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        March 13, 2011 9:11 PM

        Isn't that what Unreal Tech, Speed Tree, Havok, etc. was supposed to do?

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