- How Much Does it Cost to Port a Game? Core Rules of Video Game Porting Estimation
- Overview of Video Game Porting Cost
- Reasons that Impact How Much It Costs to Port a Game
- The Architecture of the Platform
- Engine, Language, and Libraries Used
- The Complexity of the Game
- The Point When It Was Decided to Port a Game
- Multiplayer and Crossplay Inclusion
- Source Art Resolution
- Controls and Gameplay Optimization
- Licensing and Rating Boards
- Developer Qualifications and Experience
- How to Estimate Game Porting Costs
- Consider Pingle Studio Your Trusted Partner
- Final Thoughts
According to a survey conducted by SVG, 48% of gamers own 1 or 2 gaming platforms. This means that if your game is exclusive to a certain platform, you’ll lose a large chunk of the audience that doesn’t have it at their household.
Porting a game opens it to a larger audience and provides your players more flexibility. However, the cost of game porting varies based on many factors. It might require a lot of time and resources to complete, or it can take a couple of hours to get done. So, how much does it cost to port a game, and what does the cost depend on? Let’s review it in our article.
Around 55% of US gamers have said that they’ve played games more during the pandemic. Video games have become a source of stress relief during these trying times, so it’s no wonder that the industry flourishes now.
However, this is also the reason why the video game porting cost has risen. The higher demand for developers specializing in the field and resources needed for the process has led to the price for their services increasing significantly.
On the other hand, the pandemic lockdown caused remote work to become widespread. This has made international cooperation between game developers easier. That’s why in these conditions, it is much easier to find a great expert to help you with porting for a lower than average porting game cost.
Game consoles differ in many ways. Reviewing them only in terms of hardware specifications does not cover all the differences in an exhaustive way. One of the major differences that often gets overlooked is the architecture of the platform.
The platform you want to port your game to and from directly impacts the porting game budget. For example, PC and Xbox are similar in these terms, so porting from one platform to the other will be faster and thus cheaper. The cost to port a game from either of these to PlayStation or any mobile device will most likely be higher.
One of the most critical aspects of game porting cost estimation is considering what game engine has been used in the development. If you’ve used an existing engine, like Unity, the porting might be easier, as a lot of them support different platforms.
However, if you’ve used a proprietary engine that was not designed with other consoles in mind, the process will take a lot longer. You might even have to rewrite your game as a whole, in which case the video game porting costs will skyrocket.
The selection of other tools you’ve used during the initial development is often tied with your choice of the engine. They also affect the porting budget, as if certain libraries you’ve used are available for one platform, you might have to use several solutions as an alternative for the other.
Just as complex games require more resources and time to develop, they also take more to port. Big game worlds with more NPCs and more freedom of action consist of more elements, and each of them needs to be adapted to a new platform.
Big open-world titles are the hardest and the most expensive ones to port. Even linear games that have complex NPC AI that actively reacts to the players’ actions can also be difficult to adapt.
Another aspect that affects how much it costs to port a video game is when during the development process, you have decided on bringing the title to other platforms. If you’ve made the decision only after the game is done, you might’ve already used certain technologies and practices that have made future porting more complicated and expensive.
To adapt the game to future porting, you should make the decision about it early on. In some cases, it is better to start the development with that in mind; in others, it might be better to decide when the MVP of the game is ready for one platform.
If multiplayer is a major component of your game, it will definitely impact the answer to the question ‘How much does it cost to port a console game?’ Online player interactions work differently on different platforms, and you might have to spend a lot of time and resources adapting them.
It is a whole other can of worms if you want to add crossplay to your multiplayer game. Not only is it difficult to implement in the technical sense, but you will also have to reach an agreement with the companies behind the consoles. Sony, for example, is notorious for denying the crossplay option, with only a few exceptions.
Adapting the source art is an important part of game porting. Not only does it affect how the game looks, but it is a vital process for the game’s optimization. While it takes some time to downgrade the source art for less powerful consoles, the reverse case takes much longer and is more expensive.
Low-resolution art will not look great on the system that supports better image quality. That’s why while porting the game from a console to a high-grade PC, the art might have to be redrawn altogether.
The result of successful game porting should be a game that conveys the experience of playing the original. However, video games contain platform-specific elements that need to be adapted to achieve this. Controls are among the most important examples, as they greatly impact the gameplay feel of the game and can make or break its success.
Certain gameplay elements might also heavily rely on the specifics of the platform and its controls. For example, actions that require great precision can feel normal on a PC with a mouse but be frustrating for controller users on PS4 or Xbox One. These would have to be adapted as well.
Microsoft and Sony heavily control what games can be played on their consoles. That’s why they require your game to be rated by an official board (depending on your location, this might be PEGI or USK) and have an Error and Omissions Insurance that covers IP and copyright violations.
Getting all these documents sorted out might cost you a hefty sum of over $4,000. It might also take some time to receive them, as such bureaucratic procedures often do. If you plan on porting to mobile, you might have to also adapt your game to Google Play Store and Apple App Store requirements, especially if your game has in-game purchases.
If the developer you hire doesn’t have much experience with porting, they will spend more time learning proper instruments and techniques. This is a time you would have to pay them for, which is why hiring an experienced team might be cheaper, even if they cost more per hour.
Another reason why the developer qualifications are essential is the number of mistakes they will make during the porting process. Hiring an inexperienced team can lead to a buggy product, which will damage your reputation and push the potential players away, thus costing you more in the long run.
Game porting consists out of several processes:
- Adapting the source code;
- Adapting the visuals and art;
- Adapting the gameplay and controls;
- Quality assurance and release.
This means that the specialists you need in your porting team include:
- Producer for process organization;
- Artist (depending on your assets – 3D or 2D);
- QA specialist.
The number of people you need for each role depends on the complexity of your project and the scope of work.
Here are the median ranges for how much a team member in each role would have to be paid and how much time they would have to spend on the project:
Payment per hour
1-2 months – 9 months
1-2 weeks – 3 months
1-2 months – 1 year
3 weeks – 3 months
All in all, the budget for your game porting project can range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars based on the factors we’ve mentioned above.
Pingle Studio is an experienced team that is ready to help you with your game development and porting projects. Our background is dozens of co-development, porting, and optimization of video games.
Among our successful projects is Hello Neighbor – an innovative indie horror game with a procedural AI. We’ve transferred console-grade graphics to mobile and have designed great consoles for a better mobile experience.
Another game we’ve worked on porting to consoles is Eldest Souls – a Souls-like boss-rush action game with beautiful pixel art and a unique atmosphere. We’ve adapted the game to current and next-gen consoles and have managed to make the gameplay feel native to all types of controllers.
Porting a game can be a challenging and costly process. Many factors impact the budget size, so it is often hard to estimate if you don’t have experience in the field.
If you need some help determining the porting costs or if you’re looking for an experienced team to assist you in the process, contact Pingle Studio. We can help you bring your game to more devices while maintaining its original feel and atmosphere.