How much does porting a game cost?
Game porting becomes one of the most popular services provided on the game development market. But how much does it cost and why do companies spend money on that?
How much will it cost me to port a game to a different platform?
Game porting is the term used when a video game designed to run on one platform, be it an arcade, video game console, or personal computer, is converted to run on a different platform, perhaps with some minor differences. It now becomes one of the most popular services suggested by development companies. Why does it happen?
The situation in the gaming market has drastically changed due to the growth of technologies. Some dozens of years ago people used to play on their consoles, later on computers. But with the introduction of mobile gaming the range of users who prefer different platforms has increased. That is why the biggest gaming companies began thinking of porting their games and making them cross-platform.
For example, when Cory Barlog was interviewed by GameInformer about the launch of the PC version of God of War, he said that the wave of ports PS-exclusives to PC was possible because it was a collective of studios saying that porting was a very good idea. Sony first announced that it would start releasing exclusives from PlayStation to PC back in March 2020, starting with Horizon Zero Dawn. And it took two years to develop the God of War port, meaning that work on it began just as Sony announced it.
Eventually, the experience with the God of Wars was successful as later sony made a statement that they continue porting games to PCs. They even bought Nixxes Software, a studio that is engaged in PC-ports development. They were criticized for this decision by Play Station owners, but as a matter of fact found a new audience and new players.
Why to do game porting?
There is a peculiar joke in the game industry: if you want to make several times on one game, make a port. And no one can say that there is something unfair or bad in this approach, because in the end everyone wins: the company developers, and users on all platforms, and the platform manufacturers themselves.
A platform is not only devices of a certain manufacturer or operating system, it is, first of all, a user platform, a huge percentage of potential buyers.
For example, in the USA, Australia and Canada Android is less popular than iOS. The opposite is true in China, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, India, Brazil and so on. Think about how huge this market is. You can not just double - triple your audience. According to IDC, Android dominates the smartphone market - 87.6% of smartphone sales are accounted for by devices with Google operating system, while Apple is content with a very modest 11.7%
Porting is done primarily to increase the game audience and improve functionality, to attract new users from new directions who prefer different gadgets. Porting will help in placing products in new storages and platforms. There are two basic types of porting:
1) Porting games and apps to different platforms: with this porting, you can port your games and apps to different platforms, such as from Android to iOS, Mac, Windows, browser-based online games to PC and vice versa. You can also port games from PC to consoles and vice versa.
2) Development technology porting: this type of porting means you can port your games and mobile apps to another engine using SDK, from HTML5 to Unity3D or Flash to HTML5 and from any game engine to another engine in every possible way.
How much does it cost to port a game?
This question is not asked very often, but it worries everyone. That is why the numbers are not so evident. The cost varies from project to project. Marmalade tried to count the budgets spent on porting the games to different platforms and here’s what they got:
They say that if you take a 'standard app' with an original development budget of $50,000 for iOS, the cost of recording on Android could be 60% of that amount, i.e. $30,000. If 30% of the 750,000 apps on the App Store are standard apps, and assuming that 1/5 of those apps need to be ported to Android and are written in Objective-C, then the total conversion rate for transcoding would exceed $1 billion. And that's a price that is of no value to the end consumer.
Whether to port the game to different platforms or stick to one is the decision every developer should make for themselves. Nevertheless. The competition on the market is growing and even the biggest developers start to release cross-platform games to please their users.