Production Costs

Discuss visual novels and story-based games that didn't originate on this forum.
Message
Author
User avatar
PyTom
Ren'Py Creator
Posts: 15378
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:58 am
Completed: Moonlight Walks
Projects: Ren'Py
IRC Nick: renpytom
Github: renpytom
itch: renpytom
Location: Kings Park, NY
Contact:

Production Costs

#1 Post by PyTom » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:57 am

This blog article has a breakdown on how much it costs to make a game in Japan:

http://zepy.momotato.com/2008/09/09/eroge-production/
Supporting creators since 2004
(When was the last time you backed up your game?)
"Do good work." - Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom
"Silly and fun things are important." - Elon Musk
Software > Drama • https://www.patreon.com/renpytom

User avatar
DaFool
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4171
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#2 Post by DaFool » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:46 am

Thanks for the heads up. A budget of half a million dollars is already OVA anime territory. The numbers of print runs of mere 5,000-10,000 for a typical niche title really is similar to anime DVD sales.

So the typical range for an eroge is a budget of $50,000 to break even (for those ten-dollar doujinshis) to $500,000 epics (costing near $100 per limited edition box). But knowing the cuts by distributors (i.e. dlsite), I think the budget must be brought lower than $20,000 (about the price to outsource a Flash animation episode to India) to totally break even. Are any indy commercial makers willing to confirm if that figure is in the right ballpark?

User avatar
AlphaProspector
Regular
Posts: 169
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:41 am
Completed: The Circular Gate
Projects: Yume no Sono, Hoshi Agari, The Circular Gate, Koenchu Yonogi Seiyu Story (こえんちゅ!)
Organization: Primum Soft
Location: Border of the Universe
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#3 Post by AlphaProspector » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:15 am

Uh? Those ten dollar doujin games (the 525-735 range) are sometimes done by a single guy or 2-3 people max without voice acting (no seiyuus to pay), without distributors (selling the product only through Comiket), using free developing tools, free sounds and free music (stuff like Sentive offers HEAPS of great quality music for use in games and another bunch also provide midis one could re-process and use in game, always properly crediting the authors of course, which is what all these guys do).

Perhaps they divide whatever they earn between the 2-3 people but I highly doubt a small project will have obnoxious costs as many of them follow the "start" small rule.

Let's check an example:
http://www.milkywaaay.com/dm7/

This game costs 751yen and around three people seem to be involved. It's also for sale at the usual doujinshops (Messe-Sanoh, Toranoana, White Canvas). There is a free trial available if anyone wants to check it. Looks pretty neat... Pity I can't understand what they say.

mmm, I would like to know how many copies the original print runs have and how they divide their earnings considering a decent amount must've been sold during Comiket, and might probably will for C75 if they bring in an updated version.

And yeah, the guide is really good as it indicates the costs of composing a 'serious business' project that involves arranging a team of artists (even coding is an art especially when it gets tricky and it surely will), beta testers, distribution and such.
Enjoy tranquillity. Paint reality with the colours of your imagination.

Primum Soft Website and Blog

User avatar
DaFool
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4171
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#4 Post by DaFool » Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:23 am

AlphaProspector wrote:Uh? Those ten dollar doujin games (the 525-735 range) are sometimes done by a single guy or 2-3 people max without voice acting (no seiyuus to pay), without distributors (selling the product only through Comiket), using free developing tools, free sounds and free music (stuff like Sentive offers HEAPS of great quality music for use in games and another bunch also provide midis one could re-process and use in game, always properly crediting the authors of course, which is what all these guys do).
Hmmm yeah it's far cheaper to do everything yourself but if they had an accountant monitoring how many hours these people worked and assuming they pay themselves above minimum wage, working for many months, I'm pretty sure the sum might hit 5 digits (dollars) at least.

Right now getting into (or starting?) a hardcore English commercial doujin VN scene (that isn't related to casual indy gaming nor strictly hentai works) sounds very appealing.

Adorya
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 541
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:51 pm
Contact:

The price of a commercial J-eroge.

#5 Post by Adorya » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:37 am

Interesting article translated by Canned Dogs, here is the list of the whole team cost for making your average eroge :
Eroge industry veteran Yamato Tamaki had written a detailed eroge production cost breakdown on his site a while back. Yamato Tamaki had done a variety of jobs in the eroge industry for 10 years (mainly as a project planner and scenario writer), and this is info that he is giving based on his experience.

This list does not include costs from advertising or manufacturing, because he has never been involved in that area. Advertising refers stuff like handing out flyers, putting ads in magazines, providing articles to magazines, setting up the website, etc. Manufacturing costs refer to costs incurred in stuff such as producing the box, pressing the DVDs or CDs, copy protection, printing the game manual, etc.
People involved in the development staff

Director
Similar to a movie director, but in the eroge industry the director is usually also involved in one of the other jobs listed below.

Artist
Draws the original art

Scenario writer
Writes the story, many of them also double as a scripter

Programmer
Writes the program, many also double as a scripter

Scripter
Scripts the game according to how the program works, does the presentation too

CG Supervisor
Makes sure the art is consistent, does the finishing touches, works on the improving quality of the art, etc

CG colouring
Colours the CG art and makes small graphics such as buttons

Background artist
Makes the background art used for bust shots and sometimes also for event art

Composer
Makes the music

Sound Effects
Makes the sound effects, this part is usually done by the composer too

Seiyuu
Voice actors

Sound director
Directs how each seiyuu should be speaking like and explains the intonations needed etc

Animator
Guys that do the anime parts or filming etc

Enshutsu
Does the storyboards for the trailer movies or anime scenes

Debugger
Checks for bugs and QA etc

Production manager
Makes sure everything is going according to schedule, usually done by the director or producer
Production costs

There are two ways to calculate prices in the industry, one is where the price is calcuated on a per unit basis and another is by having the company stating the total amount required and calculating the total price from there.

It is believed in the industry that you get a cheaper price via the 2nd method. That is because even if there is a sudden need to increase the amount required, the price usually does not change. The 2nd method is usually paid on a per project basis, so a small increase in the amount needed will not change the price. There are also instances where it is in the contract that additional fees are required if the amount needed increases, but it’s usually very vague in this area.
Event line art

8,000 ~ 15,000 yen or 50,000 ~ 80,000 yen per image
Event art refers to art that takes up the entire screen and is used to represent a certain scene. The cost on the left is for a normal artist, and the cost on the right is the cost when a popular artist is used.
Event CG colouring

10,000 ~ 30,000 yen per image
The price changes according to if the background has to be coloured, and also according to the colouring style used (such as anime style colouring), and if the shadows are already designated in the line art.
Bust shot line art

3,000 ~ 10,000 yen each
These are the images used to represent the characters in the normal parts of the game. Variations in the character expressions doesn’t change the cost, but different clothes and poses will count as different images.
Bust shot CG colouring

approximately 1/2 ~ 1/3 of the cost of colouring the Event CG
The colouring style will be done in the same style as the Event CG, so the cost of colouring the Event CG will directly affect the cost of the Bust shot colouring.
Bust shot backgrounds

15,000 ~ 50,000 yen each
These are the backgrounds used to depict where the characters are.
All sorts of backgrounds from TV anime level to movie level of art.
Scenario

1,000 yen for every 1kb
The story. Basically 1 yen for every 1 byte of the scenario. Outline and background settings do not count.
Programming

150,000 ~ 2,500,000 yen
The computer program that’s needed to run everything on the PC.This is the cost for ADV games, the price can get higher if it’s stuff like Action games or Mahjong.
Scripting

150,000 ~ 300,000 yen per 1MB
Scripting refers to the scripting that’s done to present all the relevant materials (art, backgrounds, bgm, etc) in order as the scenario progresses. The 1MB refers to the size of the scenario.
BGM

10,000 ~ 50,000 yen each
Most of them have been 25,000 yen or below recently.
Song

100,000 ~ 1,000,000 yen each
Stuff like the theme song, insert song, ending song, image song etc. Using a famous singer can cost a ton.
Sound effects

1,000 ~ 5,000 yen each
It’s pretty tough for the sound effects guys because when they sell a sound effect to a company it tends to get used across all their games.
Movie

100,000 ~ 10,000,000 yen
The more sophisticated the movie, the more it costs. It can cost a fortune if there’s anime or stuff like that.
Animation

1,000,000 yen and above
For comparison, a 30 minute TV anime costs about 8,000,000 ~ 15,000,000 yen
Cut-in

This refers to small graphics such as items and stuff. It’s usually done within the company itself, but if it’s outsourced, it’ll cost several thousand yen each.
Voices

It’s hard to give a range for this because the costs are completely different depending on the person that is used.
Interface

100,000 ~ 200,000 yen
Basically the graphics and design for the GUI. This is also usually done in-house, but this is the average cost to do it if they outsource.
Debugger

5,000 ~ 10,000 yen per day
It’s usually done in-house with everybody doing it together, but they get part-time staff when there isn’t enough manpower.

Other fees that may occur:
Direction fees 100,000 ~ 300,000 yen per month
CG managing fees 100,000 ~ 300,000 yen per month
Project fee 300,000 yen and below
Event CG variations

During the same scene a character’s expressions may change or the character’s hand may move slightly. These variations can have additional charges depending on how big the change is compared to the total area of the image.

Additional charges will not apply if the change is smaller than approximately 1/3 of the total area. If the change is bigger than that, there will be an additional charge (approximately 1000 ~ 5000 yen for event line art), and if there are many different variations of the same piece, the additional charges will keep increasing. Yamato Tamaki has personally seen a case where an image costed 15,000 yen for line art and 25,000 yen for colouring (total 40,000 yen), but because of the variations it became 250,000 yen in the end.
Royalties

There may be royalties given to the artist or scenario writer, usually between 0.5% to 3%. In many cases the royalties are only given on condition that the game manages to sell a certain number of copies.

Seiyuu also need to be paid when the voices recorded for the game are used in other applications such as when a game is ported to consoles, when a game and its sequel are packed together and sold in a set, or when there is a remake etc. The price is usually a percentage of the original cost for when the voices were originally recorded.
Art used for advertising

Art that is used in advertising materials such as posters, telephone cards, magazine spreads etc need to be done in a higher resolution than the game art so the prices are different.

Line art - 15,000 yen and above
Colouring - 25,000 ~ 80,000 yen

The prices can go crazy when using a popular artist for the line art. The highest that Yamato Tamaki has seen is where it cost 350,000 yen for a single piece. But popular artists on this level can make the game sell over 10,000 copies just with their name alone.
How many copies need to be sold to make a profit?

The distributors get approximately 40% ~ 60% of the selling price. How much the distributors get is usually determined by the power balance between the maker and the distributors, recently there have been distributors that provide funding to the maker for the game’s development, so in these cases, the distributors hold more power. Whereas the more stable game makers that constantly make games that sell consistently or when the maker has a famous artist, they can have more power than the distributors.

Also, when a game maker sells a game directly themselves, they do not have to go through the distributors so the distributors do not get a share of the money. A game maker that is able to get good sales from direct sales basically gets double the income as compared to going through a distributor.

For example, for a game that is 8800 yen, if the distributor takes 50%, that means 4400 yen goes to the game maker. The distributor will then sell the game to stores at 6500 yen a copy, so the distributor really makes 2100 yen per copy. Then when it comes to the stores, the amount they make will change depending on how much they sell the game for. If they sell it a the fixed price of 8800 yen, they make 2300 yen per copy, if they sell it at 7200 yen, they make 700 yen per copy.

On the game maker’s side, if they make 4,400 yen per copy, that means they get 44,000,000 yen when 10,000 copies are sold. If 3,000 copies are sold then they make 13,200,000 yen.

If the cost of production was 50,000,000 yen (including advertising and manufacturing), it means they will need to sell 11,400 copies before they can start seeing profits.

This means that in the case where they use a famous artist that is able to sell 10,000 copies of the game just by his name alone, it is possible to break even, even if it costs 40,000,000 yen to use his art. (Though it’s not a really good deal at that price)

So basically the big titles that manage to sell over 100,000 copies made 440,000,000 yen, but the game makers that can make sales on that level will probably be able to demand a bigger cut of the sales from the distributors so the amount that they actually get is probably higher. (there are only 3 companies that have games that sold more than 100,000 copies in recent times)

(Just in case anybody is getting the wrong impression about sales numbers, getting 5000 copies sold in the eroge industry can be surprisingly hard for many companies, so many try to keep the break-even point lower than that)
I am quite surprised because I was asking earlier the cost of one BGM track, in Japan it's currently 66€ if you convert it to today's rate O_o

Distributor fee seems to be around the same as DLsite's

The article doesn't count DLsite products games, because top selling products in there hit more than 500 times.

Huh, dunno is my post is to be moved in the H section, feel free to operate moderator :)


User avatar
PyTom
Ren'Py Creator
Posts: 15378
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:58 am
Completed: Moonlight Walks
Projects: Ren'Py
IRC Nick: renpytom
Github: renpytom
itch: renpytom
Location: Kings Park, NY
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#7 Post by PyTom » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:32 am

I merged the two threads.
Supporting creators since 2004
(When was the last time you backed up your game?)
"Do good work." - Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom
"Silly and fun things are important." - Elon Musk
Software > Drama • https://www.patreon.com/renpytom

User avatar
Deji
Cheer Idol; Not Great at Secret Identities
Posts: 1592
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:38 pm
Projects: http://bit.ly/2lieZsA
Organization: Sakevisual, Apple Cider, Mystery Parfait
Tumblr: DejiNyucu
Deviantart: DejiNyucu
Location: Chile
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#8 Post by Deji » Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:44 pm

That's very helpful =D!!
Image
Tumblr | Twitter
Forever busy :')
When drawing something, anything, USE REFERENCES!! Use your Google-fu!
Don't trust your memory, and don't blindly trust what others teach you either.
Research, observation, analysis, experimentation and practice are the key! (:

User avatar
PyTom
Ren'Py Creator
Posts: 15378
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:58 am
Completed: Moonlight Walks
Projects: Ren'Py
IRC Nick: renpytom
Github: renpytom
itch: renpytom
Location: Kings Park, NY
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#9 Post by PyTom » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:31 pm

Canned Dogs blog posted another numbers post:

http://zepy.momotato.com/2008/11/10/ota ... size-2007/

It points it points out that the size of the "Adult Games" market is 34.1 billion yen, or 349 million dollars.
Supporting creators since 2004
(When was the last time you backed up your game?)
"Do good work." - Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom
"Silly and fun things are important." - Elon Musk
Software > Drama • https://www.patreon.com/renpytom

Adorya
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 541
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:51 pm
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#10 Post by Adorya » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:48 am

Also the market size is slightly regressing as expected, but what surprise me is the huge raise of ebook. I don't think it's dlsite like products impacted greatly but Pocket PC and mobile phone ones, seems electronic novel or comic is now viable on these support with appropriate adaptations.

User avatar
Tsuki-chan
Regular
Posts: 132
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 10:13 pm
Projects: How to Be a Successful Villain
Location: Georgia, US
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#11 Post by Tsuki-chan » Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:44 pm

Geez, 80,000¥ (roughly $833) for one event scene?
Those popular artists don't play...xDD;

So, basically, it could easily cost around 50,000,000¥ (about half a million dollars) to make an eroge in Japan.

And to think, I was just sitting here thinking that, if I could afford it, I could probably get some pretty decent response if I offered $2,000 for an event artist.

Well, I probably could on DA, but still.

User avatar
N0UGHTS
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 516
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: California, USA
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#12 Post by N0UGHTS » Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:56 pm

8,000 ~ 15,000 yen or 50,000 ~ 80,000 yen per image
Event art refers to art that takes up the entire screen and is used to represent a certain scene. The cost on the left is for a normal artist, and the cost on the right is the cost when a popular artist is used.
...That right there, just gave me a reason to want to move to Japan and break into the eroge industry. XD (Too bad I take damn forever to draw...)

It's a shame that the market's so saturated. So I'm not surprised it's difficult for many companies to even sell 5,000 copies.

...I wonder how many copies a popular seiyuu could sell?
World Community Grid
"Thanksgiving is a day for Americans to remember that family is what really matters.
"The day after Thanksgiving is when Americans forget that and go shopping." —Jon Stewart
Thank you for playing Alter Ego. You have died.

User avatar
Jo'ogn
Veteran
Posts: 398
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:31 pm
Projects: Kassiopeia [iVN]
Location: Deutschland
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#13 Post by Jo'ogn » Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:41 am

In Germany one can make a "small" decent commercial PC game for €250.000 (US$315,728, 30.500.322 en) with some BGM and voice acting. But you'd have to know exactly what you want to do, the engine up and running and a team of really good artists, programmer, designer... and drop MoCap. You'd need to sell over 10.000 units of about €30 to get close to break-even.

50.000 units sold are considered a success for an Adventure Game in Germany.
The Game "Singles" (Sim) sold internationally about 250.000 units.
Audio Plays: [original] The White Feathers Directive - [Star Wars] Through Flame and Shadow
Ren'Py: Kassiopeia [very interactive VN] work in progress - looking for proof reader english

Adorya
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 541
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:51 pm
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#14 Post by Adorya » Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:43 pm

Another breakdown in number by Zep, this time for doujin cost and profit at Comicket :
Two doujinshi, selling price 500 yen, total 10,000 copies
5,000,000 yen

Special binding, 70 pages, cost price 300 yen each
5,000,000 yen - (300 x 10,000) = 2,000,000 yen

Cost to deliver books to and fro 20,000 yen x 2 events
2,000,000 yen - (20,000 x 2) = 1,960,000 yen

6 guys that helped to sell the doujinshi at the booth 60,000 yen x 2
1,960,000 yen - (60,000 x 2) = 1,840,000 yen

Transportation and accommodation 70,000 yen x 2
1,840,000 yen - (70,000 x 2) = 1,700,000 yen

Transportation and accommodation for guys helping out
1,700,000 yen - 140,000 = 1,560,000 yen

Dinner with all involved 40,000 yen x 2
1,560,000 yen - 80,000 = 1,440,000 yen

Money for guest artists in book 120,000 yen
1,440,000 yen -120,000 yen = 1,320,000 yen

5000 books were through consignment via shops at 490 yen each
1,320,000 yen - 50,000 = 1,270,000 yen

Approximately 100,000 yen for miscellaneous costs such as taxi fare and printing costs for the poster.

After various costs for having some other guys to represent him to appear in a smaller event that’s located out of the way, approximately 1,000,000 yen is left.

Some people ask for doujinshi that has been sold out to be reprinted and sold again, but that can’t be done because it is impossible to cover printing costs if done in small amounts, especially if special bindings are used.

As for paying large amounts for the guys helping out, to the point of paying all transportation and accommodation, it’s so that even when there is a queue at the booth a person would not need to queue for longer than 30 minutes. There is a big difference when getting people that can work really fast, and the circle tried having only 3 people at the booth once and the queue got really bad.
One comment about CD interesting enough for a quote too :
in case this is a serious question, or if anyone else cares, 1000 pressed CD will cost you around 800 euros. The most expensive position is the Master CD here, so when ZUN orders 10.000 CDs the costs for a single one will be much cheaper.
Prices also vary a lot depending on the print. No print at all or 1 Color is much cheaper then a 4-Color one (4C = basically any color).

That said, lots of Doujinshi CDs (Music/Games) are CD-r anyway. You can have those duplicated for pretty low prices (10-20 euro cent for 1 copy, depending on amount and print) or even do it yourself. This is also the realistic option if you just want 50 copies or smth.

As I once checked that, the prices in Japan for CD duplicating are nearly the same as here in europe.

User avatar
LVUER
King of Lolies
Posts: 4538
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:57 pm
Completed: R.S.P
Location: Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Contact:

Re: Production Costs

#15 Post by LVUER » Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:31 am

Ugh, even doujin one has very intimidating price tag. If it's commercial, perhaps it's understandable, but doujin one for Comiket?

For you guys out there, is the amount shown big or just so-so for a business? Because if I convert it to my currency, well, I won't be able to gather that much money even in 10 years (with my current job).

How's if the doujinshi didn't sell well? Will the guys go bankrupt, since selling for 10,000 copies is not an easy task (or it is?)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users