How much does it cost to build a play-to-earn game?

In the past twenty years, developing a video game has gone from a side project to a multi-billion dollar income stream. Today, this revenue is earned by more than just major developers. According to Yahoo Finance, the global gaming industry is set to cross $314 billion by 2026. With the rise of blockchain technologies, the paradigm of the gaming industry has also changed. 

The rise of play-to-earn games has revolutionized the gaming industry. Now players can generate income from non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and/or fungible ones while playing games on their computers or even smartphones. Unlike traditional games where users need to deposit real money in exchange for items, users can simply play the game and earn their way to those items with the P2E model.

While playing P2E games, users generate value in different in-game forms and that value is usually implemented in the form of crypto tokens. For example, in Axie Infinity, players generate “small love potions” that actually can be sold for real money. In Sorare, the actual football players’ cards can be sold on NFT marketplaces. The common logic applied for all P2E games is the following:

  • Players invest some “fiat” money to buy in-game values
  • Players are actually playing a game and earn more in-game value than they’ve invested
  • Players can exchange the earned in-game value for the “fiat” currency

The model is very popular and booming now (current market cap for all P2E tokens exceeded $20B and is growing) that a lot of game businesses, crypto investors and venture capitalists are considering an investment in a play to earn game. How much would such a game cost?

Before getting into estimations, it’s vital to understand how P2E games work and what one needs to pay attention to. 

What are the play to earn games?

By leveraging blockchain technology, the gaming industry has pioneered a completely new gaming paradigm, going from the free-to-play model to the play-to-earn model with NFTs as the vital component.

The blockchain secures and verifies the authenticity and ownership of digital assets. In turn, such assets, or NFTs, allow players to acquire rewards and receive real financial benefits. With NFT solutions, developers can enrich games with unique digital items featuring various values. Getting unique items as a reward with verifiable ownership allows gamers to trade, purchase, or sell them later. 

The process of developing a P2E game has lots in common with traditional game development. The main difference is in the in-game economy that is called tokenomics. It is a whole new value exchange infrastructure that helps users to create value in a crypto token form, exchange that value to other crypto tokens or fiat currency. it To employ NFTs in games, developers need to take advantage of blockchain and smart contracts that establish the rules for the use of the NFTs. 

Features that differentiate Blockchain Game Development 

NFT games are now mainly developed on Ethereum, Tron, and Binance Smart Chain (BSC). Smart contracts and blockchain make NFT game development different from traditional web and mobile games. But before developing your NFT game, there are a number of essential things to consider:

  • Fraud prevention 
  • Micropayments
  • Game Currency 
  • Smart contracts 
  • Ownership 

Development stages of NFT games 

Only a few years ago NFT games would have sounded unbelievable, but thanks to the rise of cryptocurrencies, they are quickly becoming a mainstream gaming trend. Blockchain games have gained massive popularity and redefined the way users interact with games. But how to develop an NFT game and make it thrive? Here’s our brief step-by-step guide to get you through the development process. 

1. Define your app idea 

This is the point where you need to clearly define what you intend to build. Here are some useful questions to help you narrow down your gaming ideas:

  • What game type are you going to develop?
  • Are there any similar apps on the market?
  • How are you going to monetize your NFT game?

While defining your app idea, it’s better to research the market, study its trends, and try to find similar blockchain or non-blockchain games. This can help you create a solid foundation for your game’s development. Try to identify its strengths and weaknesses and examine what does and doesn’t work in specific cases. Similar games can also serve as inspiration when you figure out how to do something better. 

Don’t forget about design. When it comes to NFT games, app design is the bread and butter of user acquisition. Without fascinating graphics, you’re not likely to attract many players. 

2. Develop your game 

When partnering with Unicsoft, you don’t have to worry about the development process. We take the development process off your back. Our developers will turn your game ideas into a fully-functioning NFT game with the help of modern technologies and tools. Here’s what we will do while building your app from scratch:

  • Integrate a blockchain 
  • Frontend 
  • Backend
  • Connect with crypto wallets 

3. Testing 

The QA team needs to run a series of tests to ensure the flawless performance of your game. Everything needs to be checked, including usability, key user stories, tokenomics, engagement mechanics, notifications, smoothness of the actual gameplay, penetration testing, security testing, load balancing testing… Everything needs to be taken into account, aas after a launch, any glitch or bug is going to impact your reputation and business.

4. Deployment and support

At this stage, you can present your P2E game to the world. But the success of your game requires more than just development. Consider kicking off your marketing campaign and user engagement initiatives before launch. 

How much does it cost to develop a P2E game?

Developing any game is a multistage process and requires a team of experts to bring your app idea to life. The end price can be different from the one given below since a lot of factors can influence the cost of the project, like the degree of complexity, game genre, scenario complexity, the number of platforms, the size of the development team, animations, etc. 

Approximate cost 
Creating a game design document  $1,500 – 5,000
Game graphics and animations $500 – 10, 000
UX/ UI design $2,000 – 9,000
Backend  $5,000 – 15,000
Frontend  $3,000 – 10,000
Testing  $2,000 – 5,000
Project management  $500 – 3,000
Total $14,500 – 57,000

 

If you’re going to develop a mini-game with minimum animated pieces and a few levels, your P2E mobile game can cost around $3,000 – 5, 000. The more epic game like a strategy or 3D mobile game with lots of characters, complex levels, the more it will cost. The development cost of such a project can cost 10-20 times more than a mini-game. 

Estimating a project’s budget without knowing the number of platforms, type of game, and other key details isn’t possible. On average, developing a P2E game can take over 1,000 hours and cost upwards of $57k. Furthermore, there are a number of variables along the way that can influence the final price of your project. 

At Unicsoft, we are pioneering the world of blockchain technologies for games. We’ve built a variety of blockchain-based projects across a range of industries. Want to find out how Unicsoft can take your game to the next level? Contact us to get a free kick-off consultation.