Jump to content

What Are Development Expenses Like?


Recommended Posts

Hello all,

My friend and I are in the middle of brainstorming our own petsite, but both of us are concerned over exactly what we could be getting our hands into regarding costs of developing and maintaining a petsite. 

Neither of us are incredibly wealthy nor do we expect to have kickstarting funds or any kind of initial grant. 

We are both artists and intend to create most of the art content on the site and draft plans for web design and layout.  I will also be the primary writer for all site content, and any remaining artwork will be offered to volunteer artists or future KS backers to create.  So those expenses would be mitigated. 

Unfortunately, neither of us code or have much education in computer science or game design (zero experience in game design for me haha).  While we will both try to self teach ourselves the basics, we anticipate needing significant outside help regarding that component of this project.  Unfortunately, it seems that's the most expensive aspect of developing a petsite, and so we want to get an idea of how costly it really is.

Both of us would appreciate advice concerning estimated ranges of expenses of the following services and paths toward development:

1. Hiring a coder for developing most of the site.  We expect to develop enough proficiency/familiarity in the languages to maintain and update the site from there, so that we don't have to rely on a continual staff position for a while at least.

2. Buying space on a server

3. Hiring a web designer to implement our proposed layout and get the site set up.

4. Any other expenses relating to site development not listed.


Thanks a lot for the help and suggestions!

Edited by Chixulub
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello there!

I am happy to share some of my experience in this area. I hired out for art, design, development, and some writing for my pet site, so you are already on the right track providing the art yourself! Anything you can do on your own, do it. Development is very, very expensive.

1. It is really hard to give you a price range here since there's tons of ways you can go about this part. You can certainly hire a developer to build out your whole initial framework, or you can go down the path of purchasing a copy of a completed game to modify. If I could turn back time, I would have saved enough money to just purchase and modify to fit my needs. I have watched many new games lose steam right after the basics are completed (registration, various profiles, economy areas, etc), which is really sad.

You are also spot on with your realization of needing some basic dev knowledge to help keep the cost of maintenance down. Udemy has some awesome videos that are pretty easy to follow! I personally have not found the time to work on my own skills, so this advice is easier to dole out than actually do ?

2. This part is super easy. I personally use Server Pronto and really like their service. There's quite a few threads on this forum discussing servers!

3. So, generally you would have a front-end designer for the actual UI and a back-end developer for the implementation. Some have both skill-sets, but I generally had my designs converted to HTML/CSS so my back-end dev didn't spend so much time on that aspect. From a cost perspective, this really helped. My front end person charged about $30 for each responsive design, but this would have been triple the price if my back-end dev did both parts due to the difference in their hourly rates. Back-end rates, in my experience, have ranged from $15-$60 per hour. I now work on a "per project" rate so it is easier for me to keep track of a budget. For example, I would send the details of an assignment and a quote/completion date would be generated from those details.

4. The biggest cost will always be development, so it is important to make sure your plan makes sense to avoid costly "do-overs". Trying to take user input/feedback into consideration will also help dramatically!

Depending on the type of game you have, I think professional writing is a great addition as well.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Bedouin is a programmer that keeps track of everything, they recently posted an in depth review for their game!

A Financial Peek into a Public Beta Game

They also wrote a few things on planning a game to help out with that learning curve!

Then you can also read a bit about the "technical" side of the house here!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, good for you for thinking about this before starting. A lot of people start pet sites without realizing the true costs involved. 

Some helpful resources are: So You want to be a Site Owner... and How to Plan Programming

Adding to what Vix has already said:

1. Programming expenses have multiple factors involved including the complexity of your game plans, the skill level of the person you hire, and the country they're from. That means costs could be anywhere from $10/hr to $100/hr. It all depends on who you hire. If your game is a really simple one, you could get away with 100 hours worth of work but could easily increase to 1,000 hours depending on what all is involved. The answer is: you can't know the final costs until you move forward with a programmer who can estimate that for you.

2. While in development, you can use a $5/mo server from Digital Ocean or a comparable hosting company. Once you open to testers then to the public, this could go up to hundreds of dollars depending on traffic, server setup, etc.

3. Again, this depends on the person and their hourly rate. Usually a frontend developer can be hired for a bit cheaper than one to develop your site (known as a backend or full stack developer) so you may want to hire someone different.

4. Since you have art and writing covered, other things you might not be considering is any costs of other staff such as a community manager or marketer. Supportive software like something to send emails should also be considered which could range from free to $100+/mo. Merchant fees is a big cost for purchases on a game. PayPal is the most widely used because of its international reach, and they charge 2.9% of each transaction + $0.30. So you would never want to have $1 purchases in your game.

Despite all of this, don't think that you can't afford to build a game. Many games take multiple years to build which would spread the costs of development out to be more affordable. You can also try to get an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) up and running to get testers and possibly financial support earlier on so that you aren't supporting everything yourself. 

Good luck on your pet site! ❤️

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thank you this is an extremely helpful post for us to at least get some of our bearings.  In response to your pointers:

1.  When you mention that you can buy pre-completed frameworks, where might we be able to search or inquire about that, and where can we get a pet-site framework?  Would it be necessary to buy another pet site, seeing that a pre-bought framework would have to emulate one?  What languages are these templates most often written in?

I can certainly start saving money to buy a template, and if it saves us some money and largely eliminates the need for continuously pay to a developer for hundreds of hours of service, I'm all for it.  

2.  I'll be sure to look into the website regarding that server and forums, thanks for that tip!

3.   Hmm yea from what you are saying perhaps there is a lot to the front-end development I can learn on my own if need, as of now I'm going to learn HTML for sure.  But yea, if we end up needing to hire someone it would be on a per-project basis I suspect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


When I say framework, I am really meaning a completed, live game. My biggest regret is purchasing incomplete work, whether that be a framework OR paying a developer as they went as opposed to a per-feature basis. This has resulted in quite a bit of wasted funds and headache on my end. However, this is just my opinion! I have seen copies of games sold on this forum a few times, so it is worth some research. This route allows for more focus on customization your unique features rather than tons of investment in "standard" features.

Best of luck!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...