The online gaming industry is absolutely huge right now. If current estimates are anything to go by, it’s only going to become bigger and more prominent over the next few years. It’s been estimated that over 40% of the world’s population plays games online regularly. It’s also been estimated that in 2019, over $150 billion in revenue was generated from online gamers around the world. It’s safe to say that online gaming is a very big business, indeed. The driving force behind the industry’s sheer size is, of course, the games themselves, which aren’t exactly cheap to produce most of the time.


Key Features of Modern Games


These days, online games are incredibly advanced. Both single- and multi-player games have a wealth of gaming content, realistic graphics and sound effects, detailed storylines and immersive gameplay. Online games enable you to play with others anywhere around the world. They’re also capable of receiving regular download updates to expand the gaming experience and patches to fix any bugs or introduce general improvements. One of the most popular titles in the world right now is Fortnite. Released in 2015, Fortnite has an estimated 125 million players from all over the world and has a monthly revenue in the millions of dollars.


Along with console games such as Fortnite, online casino games make a significant contribution to the gaming industry as a whole. There are thousands of real money casino games available to play and loads of the most popular ones, including casino slot machines, are playable on mobiles. If you want to play mobile slots for real money, the choice is practically endless.


In order for games to generate huge amounts of money, there are several things they need:

– A very broad appeal to attract as many players as possible;

– Lots of features to encourage people to spend time playing;

– Regular updates to keep players coming back;

– Monetisation to encourage spending after the initial purchase of the game.


Many online games these days are more commercially successful than blockbuster movies. It’s well known that for many movies, the production budget is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with even more spent on promotion and advertising. But what about online casino games – how much do they cost to develop? You might be surprised to learn that the amount of money spent on developing online games can be very high indeed.



How Much Should Be Invested?


Creating an online game is a huge operation that typically involves hundreds – if not thousands – of people from many different areas working together. Some of the many roles required for the development of an online game include designers, graphic artists, sound engineers, programmers, quality testers, and so on. It can take many months or even years to go from the very start of the development process to the day when the finished product goes on sale. The development process can be complicated and drawn-out. If it’s an entirely original title that’s been created, things can be simplified. For a game based on an IP, such as a film or TV show, the development has to include things like licence acquisition and extra care taken to ensure the IP is being accurately represented in the finished game.

Some Popular Examples


Of the many thousands of titles that have been released, there are around 40 that have cost upwards of $50 million in today’s money to develop and market. Of these, 16 have had a total development cost in excess of $100 million. The current record-holder for the most expensive online game is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The first-person shooter was created by Infinity Ward and distributed by Activision. Released in 2009 as the sixth instalment in the Call of Duty series, it sold a huge 4.9 million copies within its first 24 hours on sale and went on to receive near-universal acclaim.


Not every online game has a development budget in the millions. Pokemon Go, for example, has been estimated to have cost between $450,000 and $600,000 to develop and get to market. The free-to-play game does have monetisation and has actually generated over $3 billion, of which $900 million was generated in 2019 alone.


We’ve already mentioned Fortnite. Even though it’s pretty much the biggest game in the world right now, it didn’t have the biggest of development budgets. It’s noticeably absent from the list of the games that cost over $50 million to develop. The game’s budget was likely still quite a lot, but it just goes to show that games that it’s not necessarily the most expensive ones that go on to generate the most revenue. Sure, pretty much all of the costliest games have gone on to become huge successes, but having a huge development budget isn’t necessary for a game to really take off and generate huge profits.

Getting Income

It’s clear that the online gaming industry is very lucrative indeed. Even though games can cost in the millions to develop and promote, they often make their budget back several times over. The biggest contributor to this is monetisation. This refers to in-game purchases you can make to help you make progress or purchases of cosmetic items such as pieces of clothing and character skins. While the industry wouldn’t be anywhere without its games, monetisation is a key contributor to the ongoing success of the industry as a whole.


Many free-to-play games rely on monetisation to keep the money coming in; Pokemon Go is a prime example. Others require you to purchase a copy of the game itself. Once you start playing, there’s the option to spend even more money on in-game purchases. The way monetisation works, you purchase in-game currency with real-world currency. You can then exchange your in-game currency for whatever the game has for sale.


Will online games cost more in the future? There’s every chance that will be the case. After all, prices for practically everything keep on going up and up. Not every game will have a multi-million dollar budget, of course, but we can fully expect to see more games with multi-million budgets launch in the coming years. Online games can earn incredible sums of money if created in the right way. Given how lucrative they can be, developers will likely sink more money into the development process to ensure the finished product is as good – and profitable – as possible. However, there will always be cheaper products that have much smaller development budgets.

Final Remarks

Online games are seriously big business right now. We’re enjoying playing them more than ever before, and many of the biggest ones are bringing in extremely large sums of money. The process of developing a game from the ground up and releasing it is complicated and can be costly depending on the nature of the game. When millions are spent creating movies, it’s not surprising that as much money can be spent on online games that engage players from all over the world. What’s great about the industry is that there’s still so much room for growth. Expect many more exciting, thrilling and immersive games to come out in the near future.