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ID@Xbox dev reveals costs of launching Xbox One game

"Not as cheap to make as a PC game - by a long shot."

Launching an indie game for consoles - even one developed in your bedroom - isn't something you can do for free. But how much does it actually cost?

Microsoft has made the process cheaper on Xbox One by giving away development kits to members of its ID@Xbox scheme, and there is also now no cost for patching games post-release.

But some fees are still required. Sixty Second Shooter Prime developer Jamie Fristrom has broken down the costs involved for his game via his blog.

The total cost of launching the title on Xbox One was around $5143 (just over £3k), with the amount broken down as follows:

  • Maintaining the Sixty Second Shooter URL - $19
  • Sending the second dev kit to [fellow developer] Brett Douville - $63
  • Hardware (USB and video cables and the like) - $72
  • Video capture device (for making trailer) - $181
  • Localisation (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) - $729
  • Errors & Omissions Insurance - $2037
  • Foreign ratings boards (PEGI, USK) - $2042

The last two payments - the ones which make up the bulk of the overall bill - are required by Microsoft. The insurance covers the game's intellectual property and copyright protection, while the ratings board certifications are needed for launch in Europe.

But developers can choose where they want to get their games released in order to lower costs further. Fristrom notes that he skipped Australia and New Zealand as it would have cost him another $2k.

As easy as one, two, three?

"Localisation and other territories are optional," Fristrom explained. "If you limit yourself to regions where you don't have to pay (which would mean skipping Europe) - you could get the costs of your Xbox One game down to well under $3000."

Indeed, some ID@Xbox titles have done just this - both Nutjitsu and 1001 Spikes aren't available in Europe yet, and Nutjitsu's developer has said it is because it is still waiting on obtaining a PEGI rating.

"[It's] not as cheap to make as a PC game - by a long shot," Fristrom concluded. "That said, although those costs were somewhat daunting for a shoestring developer like myself, it was absolutely worth it.

"Although we haven't gotten our first sales report yet, there were at least ten thousand entries on the leaderboards last we checked, so we've certainly covered our costs and made a living wage to boot - which is kind of rare in the indie game development world, in my experience - so I'm really happy we jumped aboard the ID@Xbox wagon."