Revealed: Audio gets â??around 10%â?? budget share

Revealed: Audio gets â??around 10%â?? budget share

By Rob Crossley

February 17th 2010 at 2:58PM

Though one unnamed game allocated â??as low as 2%â? budget share

Audio production tends to be allocated around ten per cent of the typical game development budget, a panel of industry execs say.

However, one experienced game audio specialist has in the past seen audio costs fall to just two per cent of total development.

The estimates come in the wake of decorated composer Richard Jacques’s criticism of the industry for persistently holding back on game audio investment, suggesting that sound and score budgets seem to be “picked out of a hat”.

Indeed, the understandable discrepancies in game audio expenditure means that reaching an average budget figure is complicated.

Yesterday, however, a band of game audio specialists were invited to the Games Meet Film event at the world-famous Pinewood studios, where the likes of SCEE’s Dan Bardino met Ubisoft Reflections audio director Jon Vincent (pictured, right), and Media Mill founder Jerry Ibbotson, to discuss the craft.

“I am working on an 8-10% budget at the moment,” said Vincent who’s currently working on the next Driver title, “meaning that I’m getting 8 per cent of the money spent on the project directed towards audio.”

Ibbotson, meanwhile, told Develop that he’s known audio costs “to be as low as two per cent of total budget for a PS2 game”.

Speaking of the discussion he had with Bardino and Vincent – as well as composer James Hannigan (pictured, left) – Ibbotson said: “There was a feeling that around 10 per cent was now more of a norm [for audio budgets] but it's hard to work out, as sometimes licensed music is paid for out of the marketing pot.”

Ibbotson said that, by comparison, film projects tend to be allocated around 20 per cent of project costs.

However, Vincent disagreed with the frequent claim that audio production is generally under-funded.

“I may have been really lucky, because the studios I’ve worked with in the past have given me a great deal of budget and freedom to use it,” he said.

“Some of the people I’ve worked with have been fantastic,” he added. “Maybe it’s the case that those who need more budget aren’t shouting loudly enough about it.

“In terms of average share – I think that Ubisoft and Reflections both value the role of audio and spend the money appropriately. I’ve had good experiences at Eidos and Midway too in terms of budgets, but maybe I’m lucky as I’ve heard some horror stories about people still expecting AAA from a single bloke in a room.”

The Games Meet Film event at Pinewood was organised by UK game association Tiga.