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Developers Corner

Developers Corner 

Help Wanted  » I want to create an MMORPG, how much money do I need?

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88 posts found

Elite Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 892

12/16/11 6:28:23 PM#41
Originally posted by Inf666

It really is a pity. Every now and then someone does want to realize their dream of making an MMO but is assaulted by us old timers with harsh reality (and massively criting while doing so).

There are as many ideas as there are MMO gamers out there. Imagine if creating an MMO would really only cost a dozen and a dime (under 5 mio $). We would have several games for every possible niche. Everyone would be happily playing the game they like. Hell, maybe adding the mandatory hate flame to your postings would not be necessary (WOW suxxs, k?).

I suppose we still need a lot of development in gaming toolkits, frameworks and especially design. You can get a sound, graphics and physics engines easily and cheap today but you still need a LOT of people for content design. Even if the models and textures were freely available you still need a lot of people to make the scripts and stories, the npc behaviour and AI design. Complete toolkits like the hero engine are a good start but they still need to become a lot more accessible, powerful and cheap. I think there is still a lot to be done in the area of dynamic auto-generation of content. Something like the diablo dungeons but for an MMO. Developer teams would then just modify the algorithms, add new models/textures, configure skills, quests and the AI.


As for you Kevin: Please do understand: We are not trying to be mean or exaggerate. The truth is simply that AAA MMOs have a budget of 100mio $ +. Indie games start at 10mio+. Yes, MMOs are really that expensive. I would advise you to start small and build up capital with non MMO games, maybe even games for a platform other than a PC (mobile platforms, web games...). Of course you have the occasional success of a programmer making a game in his spare time. But for every such success story you have 20 failed attempts that never come to light. Your hopes for minimizing costs will not work. For little money you will only get little talent. Bad or inexperienced programmers will result in a far higher cost than experienced programmers would have cost you anyway.

Also do not forget the overhead costs. Managers, financial people, simple cleaning staff, lawyers, security, rent, health / resignation payment packages, taxes, electricity, computers, IT, licences for development software (Windows + office...), programmer training, public relations etc. will cost you your last shirt.

Excellent response.  My approach to posts like these are to try to help these developers get an understanding of the little nit-picky things they might have not thought about.  And these nit-picky things do add up to a lot of hassle and expense very, very quickly.


Development platforms and MMO Engines.

A game development development kit for a specific MMO product is mostly interfaces to common libraries of code that work in predetermined ways.  This is perfectly fine, unless the developer wants to do something fundamentally different.  Every SDK I've ever seen imposes a certain 'methodology' for doing things.  If the project is innovative in certain areas, this can invalidate a lot of the purchased SDK, requiring a lot of development of the project's SDK, or a lot of features to be dropped.  For instance, a game that wanted to use a non-client-server networking model might have a lot of difficulty in using a commericial game SDK.


Overhead costs.

Adding to the already excellent list of overhead costs started by Inf666, don't forget business license fees, business insurance and personnel benefits.  Every country, state, county, municipality or district that can regulate a business, does.  And they want money to for the privilege of operating in their area.  Business insurance alone is a massive 'gotcha'.  It is a huge variable, depending on how much financial risk the owner wishes to take.  Personnel benefits (on top of governmentally required plans, payments and contributions) can run from 0% to 150% of an employees salary, or possibly even higher.

I did a business plan to start my own MMO design studio in 2002-2003.  I balked when the best estimates I could get were in the $3.5 million USD ranges.  On reflection, if I had managed to get financing for that back then, I would have grossly underestimated the cost of funding my projected 3-year development plan.  I wouldn't be surprised is I actually understimated the costs by an addition $2-5 million USD, and I'd have a half-completed disaster on my hands with $6-10 million of debt.  Or I could have released another half-baked, half-implemented abortion of an MMO on the market and have had to read flames on forums for years.  Neither sounds good to me.

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/26/08
Posts: 283

Don't be simple

12/16/11 6:30:47 PM#42

I just wanted to say good question, I have often thought about it in my free time. Definently makes you think about standard of living in the united states and if making money is really 'making money' or is it all just going back into bills from where you live.


Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 8515

12/16/11 6:31:17 PM#43

All depends on the quality, scalability, and scope of what you're trying to create.

There are examples of some tightly-scoped games being made by 1 skilled programmer.  And one of my favorite sandbox experiences (Haven & Hearth) was made by like 2 guys I think.

"Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
"There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/09/11
Posts: 159

12/16/11 6:32:44 PM#44

Knowledge is all you need.  And the knowledge needed is free.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/15/06
Posts: 1339

pew pew

12/16/11 6:35:43 PM#45

Some dude on Xfire that said he was doing some work on mmos, I dont think this was like a dev that gets paid but just a normal person working on a game, *rolleseyes* but he was talking about how the crytek engine you have to pay some where of 1500$ up front then when your mmo has been made they get somehting around hald a percent for every game sold. 

Other engines dont require anything up front what so ever but after you make the game you need to pay them so much after its released.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/14/11
Posts: 1348

12/16/11 6:49:21 PM#46

No offence but how old are you? This sounds to me like a 15 yhear old dreaming...

Making a mmo...opening a gamestudio in India ......

I wish you good luck...since dreamers are the ones that can make dreams come true.... but you are going to need a lot more than that.

MMORPGS are the mossst expensive and difficult games to make...i would recommend to start with something ewasier for your first project ;)


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/02/08
Posts: 2205

I am not a hater, I call it like I see it.

12/16/11 7:00:30 PM#47
Originally posted by NMStudio
Originally posted by toddze
Originally posted by NMStudio
Originally posted by toddze

We all have our dream mmo. The fact is without millions of $$$$ laying around it wont happen (unless you plan on making something that looks like minecraft).

Imagine if Minecraft used a REAL 3d engine, and had massive amounts of players in the same world... how great would that be? 

Ya it would be awsome, but that would drive up the cost of production. A LOT

Just humor me and tell me what YOUR dream MMO is.  If you had a free 3d MMORPG engine to use, what would your game be?

My dream MMO is simple:

without going into massive amounts of detail, which I have thought of. It would essentially be 2 games in one.

A full PvP game with 3 factions focused on guild vs guild, guilds of same faction could also be at war but frowned upon, there would be a "no mans land" contenent  where its a free for all sloberknocker. What you would expect from a pvp game guild towns, seiges ,player housing etc etc. Like I said wont bore you with more detail, that I have thought up, but you get the point.

Add a forth faction for the PvE'ers. as a member of this faction your basically neutral you can flag yourself for pvp if you choose unless you venture to"no mans land"  which your flagged automatically. but there really wouldnt be i big desire for a pve'er to go to "no mans land" As for the PvE raid stuff It would be modled kind of like FFXI There would be small group stuff, medium group stuff and full scale raids. Id make sure that if a person hated full scale raids that he would have gear somewhat comparable to the full scale raid gear. Not going into a lot of detail but I know how it could be done.

Side notes Id want each factions main contenent to be massive, so thats 4 massive areas. Id want the servers to be able to hold a massive number of players so the pvp players dont feel like their playing a ghost town. while they see countless numbers of pve'ers.  (I dont think technology is there yet to allow as many players as id want on 1 server). for my wrinkle Id have a company employee play a "bad guy" on each server, to try to push dynamic massive wars between factions. again not going to to many details on that.

I could write about 20 pages on what and how my dream mmo would work. I have a perfect story, and world lore already thought up as well.  This doesnt really even breifly cover my dream mmo. just gives you an extremely rough idea.

Waiting for:EQ-Next, ArcheAge (not so much anymore)
Now Playing: N/A
Favorite MMO: FFXI


Novice Member

Joined: 11/01/05
Posts: 448

12/16/11 7:11:15 PM#48

You need more than that but you may visit (SWTOR is made using it) and look for payment options. They also offer cloud services.

  • Build every type of online game (RPG, FPS, RTS and more) with HeroEngine FOR FREE!
  • Seamlessly publish your game as a client, or to the web. We setup and pay for hosting, billing and marketing.
  • If your game makes money 70% goes to you, 30% to us. You are the developer and deserve your fair share.
Sounds really fair to me.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/14/07
Posts: 37

"Not all that wander are lost" -JRR Tolkien

12/16/11 8:37:17 PM#49

Why is everybody putting this guy down and saying he has no chance? Seriously, is no one optimistic on here? It's the classic, "you have no chance," that every person gets who wants to start something big, and guess what, not all people fail.... go figure.  This guy obviously isn't looking to create the next top AAA MMO for 60 million dollars.. come on. There are plenty of examples of people just like OP here who had a dream and actually acted on it instead of heeding to the, "you have no chance," of  others and turned out successful. Take Minecraft for example.. the guy started out by HIMSELF with a whole lot less than a couple hundred grand. The guy is making 300 grand a day now. Now I'm not saying he's going to be the next Notch, I'm just saying instead of making him a list of all the reasons why he will never succeed, give the guy some advice... help him out which is what he initially asked for. Because you're right, he will get nowhere at this level if everyone tells him he can't. Besides, who are you guys to say that he can't anyway?

"I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it"-Voltaire


Novice Member

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 34

12/16/11 8:45:44 PM#50

when thinking about your idea facebook comes up as a relatively similiar project except it was social media

you could get people to program for you if you have something revolutionary, If u had a whole mmo laid out in a business plan and just needed prograammers to write the game it could happen.


funding is not a problem once you have your mind set on something, if you want to do it, dont be discouraged by any posts here


Novice Member

Joined: 7/07/09
Posts: 226

12/16/11 8:52:32 PM#51
Originally posted by Donev

Oh and btw. 

There is a guy who used to frequent these forums. He has been trying to make an MMORPG for the past decade.

His main website is down.

A couple years ago he contracted out to a company to help him in development. I have a friend who works for that company he contracted out to. I think my buddy makes somewhere around $80-90k per year. (I judge this by his house and the fact his wife is a hairdresser) I do not know anything about the details of the contract, how much work he wanted, or how much he paid.... but my friend makes a good bit of money. He makes more than me and I work on those "financial applications" you were talking about earlier. 

DOn't u love these people my buddy such and such works here and for nintendo and sony and microsoft sorry and u or anyone u knew made this kind of money u wouldn't be on mmorpg lol u would actually have hookers to bone.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/03/07
Posts: 374

"Life is just a test - a test to see if you can survive death." - Myself.

12/16/11 9:36:40 PM#52
Originally posted by zephermarkus

DOn't u love these people my buddy such and such works here and for nintendo and sony and microsoft sorry and u or anyone u knew made this kind of money u wouldn't be on mmorpg lol u would actually have hookers to bone.

Wow, really? So if you're making a lot of money, you don't have time to sit down to enjoy your favorite hobby and eventually discuss with other, like-minded, individuals? Wow. I'm glad I don't make a lot of money, then. I mean, I do have my fianceé to, as you so crudely put it, bone - but I also have time to; play games, discuss games, read forums, articles, and so on and so forth.


To the OP;

A lof of what has been said in this thread is true. It takes money and a lot of other things to make an MMO.

About your idea of flying people to, eh, India or somesuch.. I guess there might be some people who'd be interested, but I know that I, myself - a computer science student, would much rather stay where I am. Not only because of my family, but because of all the accompanied benefits of living in a western country.

That said, you might be able to find people who just came out of the university who'd love the idea. You have to consider the cost of having those people relocated etc. etc., and you have to consider the quality of their work. Again, as a computer science student, a lot of my class mates aren't really all that when it comes to programming. So if you do decide to do this, make sure you get at least a few experienced members who can, well, overlook the project. You'd probably also want the upper-half of the graduates, and someone to screen the applications (make sure to get applicants to submit a piece of code or something, so someone you've employed already can say wether or not it's crap).

If you really want to do something like this, though, start small. Start with hiring some students (that is, still studying) and set up something local. Hire some rooms, all the basics. Work on smaller singleplayer games and gradually move up to multiplayer and eventually mmo's. Again, I'd make sure you have some experienced people with you, for quality assurance and such. Best practice does not come naturally.

On a related note; I know a few people who've started their own game-making businesses here (local folks), they started with less than 10 grand, but they're not making a lot of money (yet). Innovators. They're "their own boss"-ish, but it means lots of hard word and lowering ones life standards for a while, until business picks up. Well, one of 'em did work for a national TV channel, some kids-games, so his business did pick up, and he's supporting his 2nd child now.

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Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 13596

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

12/16/11 9:48:15 PM#53
Originally posted by kevin_123

...but working as a games programmer is not a well paid job...

 A 2010 survey by Game Developer indicated that the average salary for a game programmer is $95,300 annually. The least experienced programmers (with less than 3 years experience) generally earn about $74,600, while developers with over six years experience on average earn $125,700.

That is, of course, if we want to use something other than our asses as our source of data.

There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein


Novice Member

Joined: 1/08/07
Posts: 2315

12/16/11 9:59:56 PM#54

Buidling an MMO -- or any game, really -- goes much farther than just the programmers.

You need a place to put all those programmers. You need computers for all of them, and desks for those computers. You need office supplies and basic utilities for that office to run. You need a project manager to plan everything out and stick to it so that everyone knows what the hell is going on and when it needs to be done. You also need people like a lead designer, quest designers, writers, sound, animators, QA, and artists.

Beyond that, there's the need for an accountant to manage the money and a lawyer to make sure you're not screwing yourself over with every contract you sign. An HR person is a good idea so they can handle any disputes that arise. Hiring an office manager to make sure that things run smoothly would be smart too. Plus, you need server and database admins to make sure that there are servers for your MMO to run on. And so on and so forth. 

These things cost money. It's not hard to see where a game could end up costing $30-$60 million through its development cycle, especially if you want to hire talent that knows what they're doing instead of kids straight out of college.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/01/04
Posts: 1719

12/16/11 10:15:19 PM#55

Hi Kevin,

I have hopes of running an indie game company someday too.  More than hopes really; more like plans.  

Costs can range wildly depending on what you want to do.  $200,000 is a substantail and presents opportunity, but before getting started I think you should look for business partners who are also willing to contribute $$ towards the project.  This might mean you will have to compromise some of your vision, but take these two things into account:

1) Your vision is already going to be compromised when you are on a lower budget, especially if you run out of money half way through.

2) A business partner can help bring things to the table that you may not be able to.  Or at least someone to bounce ideas off of who is invested in the project.

If you are interested in keeping in touch with me and letting me know how it goes, message me.  Like you, I have considered outsourcing for my project...  I am currently learning Chinese and planning to live there for a half of a year when I finish getting my doctorate in 2014.  From there I am moving back to the states and getting a 'real job' and saving some money while exploring ideas and looking for partners.  In the end I may try to get a loan from my family who have a lot of liquid cash and real estate assets that are basically untouched because of their lack of financial sense and other family related problems, but I do not want to rely on that. My primary interests are with unique online RPGs, but not necessarily MMORPGs.

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/17/11
Posts: 7


12/17/11 2:07:41 PM#56

I think he has a nice idea, and could polish it up...a bit. I don't know if kids would want to fly all the way to India, though they might, and I know people like my brothers would love to create an indie team to make a game, regardless of if at the moment they aren't paid very much, because for people like them, there is a dream that they would be paid lots later on. But! I think they'd prefer local or at least in the US.

I would say it might make things a little cheaper to get a bunch of friends together to make a game if they know what they're doing, but I don't know if I have a say in it because I don't really know what I'm talking about lol. Plus it wouldn't be top notch, but of course it's a start. But, if you're not for a big company, indie games are usually cheaper, aren't they? And I've heard of some indie MMORPGs that were made with a budget under 1 mill. So it is possible.

I have my own question: Why are they so expensive? What does all that money come from, are the creators buying lots of software to make the game and it's all so expensive? And how on earth did an indie group make a game under 1 mill while another one made one with a budget over 30 mill? What did the first one cut to make it with such a low budget?

One more question: Would a 2D MMORPG have a smaller budget, and by how much? Those can get big too, just look at Maplestory. And I'm sure they're easier to make.

I feel like so many people have such nice ideas, but money always gets in the way of it all :\ I'm sure there's some way to lower that big fat budget.

EDIT~ You know, I think it is extremely possible to make an MMORPG with a small indie team and a budget of $100,000. Some people don't really care about the money, some really love just making games. Indie is not corporate, is not big companies, it's a bunch of friends getting together to create a big dream, a bunch of rebels challenging the big companies and making something new. You can start small and work your way up to the big plan. $100,000 budget, an 8-member team, $100 web hosting, some guys around here are willing to work for $10 a day! Because of the dream that one day they'll be making millions with their great ideas. Just look at Minecraft--started from barely anything, became so big. You don't need a 30 million budget to create something decent.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10959

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

12/17/11 2:35:54 PM#57

Originally posted by Loktofeit

Originally posted by kevin_123

...but working as a games programmer is not a well paid job...

 A 2010 survey by Game Developer indicated that the average salary for a game programmer is $95,300 annually. The least experienced programmers (with less than 3 years experience) generally earn about $74,600, while developers with over six years experience on average earn $125,700.
That is, of course, if we want to use something other than our asses as our source of data.

So take a team of 10 people, give them 5 years of salary (roughly) and you get $3,750,000 in salary if you start with people who have 3 years or less experience. I always figured I could take $10,000,000 and a bunch of college students and make a game better than Mortal Online...but not as good as WoW. Unfortunately, I haven't won the lottery, so I need all the money I make for bills and I can't fund the development of my yet to be developed game.

** edit **
I'm not sure about the actual dollar amount, but the ability to fund your game for a total of 5 years without earning income from the game is ballpark I'd try to get in.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/01/04
Posts: 1719

12/17/11 9:11:26 PM#58

I think some of the responses to the OP are missing the point because they are talking about making an AAA MMO.  With the 200,000 the OP has he could start an indie company, no problem.

I think in an indie game one of the biggest things to remember is that every tiny feature costs you money.  With a big budget MMO, developers start with a feature list already decided for them by other popular MMOs and build on that.  You simply cannot do that with an indie game; every feature in your game needs to add something new and interesting to the table because you simply do not have enough features to run with the big dogs.  Every feature you need to ask yourself the pros of cons of, even simple ones that are well established in RPGs today.

Best of luck!

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Novice Member

Joined: 1/03/06
Posts: 830

12/17/11 9:26:28 PM#59

You need the right people, thats about it.

People will get stuff done more than money will, find the right people with the right drive for what you want to do and the money really shouldn't be as big of an issue, yes you will need alot but the people are what are going to make your game.

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/09/05
Posts: 804


12/17/11 9:39:41 PM#60
Originally posted by jezvin

You need the right people, thats about it.

People will get stuff done more than money will, find the right people with the right drive for what you want to do and the money really shouldn't be as big of an issue, yes you will need alot but the people are what are going to make your game.


This is spot on.  3 of the right people can yield much better results (much more productive) than 10 mediocre people.

The hard part, of course, is figuring out who belongs in what category.  People are looking for jobs.  Even those just wanting to prove themselves.  So I would advise setting up some sort of test before hire. 


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