Bigpoint: The 7-figure browser game dev budget is here to stay

Bigpoint: The 7-figure browser game dev budget is here to stay
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

January 18th 2012 at 2:51PM

CLOUD GAMING EUROPE: Triple-A quality often means a triple-A cost, says chief games officer Philip Reisberger

Speaking at the Cloud Gaming Europe conference in London Bigpoint's chief games officer Philip Reisberger has stated a belief that seven-fugure budgets for high-end browser games are becoming increasingly common.

"You can still make a good free-to-play browser game for €15,000 or €20,000, and at Bigpoint we have recently made high quality online games for €100,000," Reisberger said on stage. "But, prices are are going up for making these games, and if you want to consider making – and perhaps marketing – a high-end 3D browser game, today you could need a seven-figure budget to really push your game."

"The myth of the virality of games is over," he added.

He made the statement as he sat on a panel titled 'The Business of Cloud Gaming: All-You-Can-Eat or Micro-Transactions'.

Immediately after the session concluded Reisberger told Develop that high-end browser studios are starting to mirror traditional triple-A console studios.

"It really depends on the type of game you are making, but if you are making a full 3D browser game of the kind of quality that Unity or perhaps Molehill allows, development costs are totally rising, and distribution costs are not going down," he said.

"What we now see is, with Battlestar Galactica for example, people are expecting and anticipating much more from a game that what they would be happy with in 2003 or 2005. Back then online games would need less features, less polish and less mechanics. Today, people have educated by Zynga and others to expect something like a retail-game experience from browser games. Yesterday's first-time gamers now expect far more, and as a consequence there are rising development costs. It is a good thing Bigpoint can afford it.

"I'm not staying those seven-figure budgets are a standard, but they are absolutely something we will see more and more of. Small games developed by one or two developers for mobile are still possible of course, but we will see more of these large budgets.

"Back in 2006 we were hiring a lot of HTML guys. Today, with the standards the gamers today want, we see ourselves hiring a lot of Java and C# guys, 3D animators and artists. We now have three sound studios of our own. Making browser games is getting a lot more like the traditional triple-A console development business. We are growing up."

Reisburger concluded by making clear his belief that the industry is not at a point where such substantial budgets the norm, but he is confident that "it is starting to happen".