Sign in to follow this  
Bent

How Much Did The DFA Cost?

Recommended Posts

How much it costs to bring a game to market is traditionally a privileged piece of information known only to those people involved in making and/or funding the game. When the DFA kickstarter closed the budget for the DFA was amazingly there for anyone to see, $3,336,371. Had this figure remained the DFA’s total budget an interesting academic question would have been answered: “What do you get when a professional experienced game studio has $3,336,371 to spend on a project?”

During the course of development Double Fine made the decision to make Broken Age a much bigger game in terms of both size and importance. To pay for this increase in scope Double Fine used various additional sources of funding (OUYA deal, Slacker Backers, internal revenue allocation, etc.). The result was DF being able to successfully finish and release Broken Age. However, in increasing the budget from the original $3,336,371 the answer of “you get X for Y” was lost.

So I ask of DF: How much did the DFA (including marketing, backer rewards, distribution, maintenance, etc.) cost?

Thanks,

Bent

P.S. A breakdown by act and type of expense would be nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't forget that they won't have got the whole 3 mil to spend on the game to start with - there were fees to Amazon and Kickstarter, 2 Player Productions got a share for the documentary, and they also had to fulfil the physical rewards and postage from this amount as well.

So even if they hadn't gathered other sources of funding, we would still have been guessing at how much the game actually cost to make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't forget that they won't have got the whole 3 mil to spend on the game to start with - there were fees to Amazon and Kickstarter, 2 Player Productions got a share for the documentary, and they also had to fulfil the physical rewards and postage from this amount as well.

So even if they hadn't gathered other sources of funding, we would still have been guessing at how much the game actually cost to make.

Sorry, I could have been clearer. When I refer to the DFA in the OP I mean the whole kit and caboodle, the documentary, the kickstarter fees, PAX booth costs, backer rewards, advertising, etc. In short, everything that comprised the Double Fine Adventure (DFA) of which Broken Age (the game) was only one part. The total gross cost of bringing a game to market encompasses a lot more than just the development costs of the software itself. I'm asking to know what all that stuff (*Waves hand*) cost.

You’re right in that a detailed breakdown with specific expenses would be ideal but even a single number indicating the gross cost would have real academic value (as long as it's accurate and not a seat-of-the-pants estimate).

Given how visible and available for study each part of the project has been and how new the phenomenon of crowd funded projects is with some more details this case study could contribute to general industry knowledge and even conceivably end up in business textbooks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, based on the documentaries we know they pumped at least $1M of their own money into it. Based on the scope and length of development, I'd say it's more than that, perhaps as much as an additional $3M.

But I doubt they will release these figures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But I doubt they will release these figures.

They might. Greg has posted the cost breakdown in the past and I thought he mentioned doing it again near the end of the project. Potentially this is something they'll show in the final episode of the doc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I recall, the working budget for the game after deducting kickstarter & Amazon fees, and all the backer rewards, was around 2.8M. And based off the documentary, I think they added at least another 2M, by selling Psychonauts & Brutal Legend (and maybe others) on steam. Also remember that one of the major reasons for releasing the game in 2 parts was to use the sales of Act I to fund the completion of Act II, so there was probably 6 or 7 figures there.

Then there is the possibility that some private investors may have ponied up some cash, which is the sort of thing that usually goes unreported, and even if it were, the figures are usually (intentionally) vague, at best.

But going off of what we know, we can make a rough estimate. A game that took 3(ish) years of development, with maybe 30 dev staff (not including voice talent) would probably be a tight 10M to make, not including marketing. Though the documentary would imply that DF squeezed their budget very hard indeed, so you could potentially shave a few million off that.

So: I would say minimum 6M, potentially 9M or 10M, with a sensible budget being 15M - 20M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Greg mentioned having the intention of doing a more detailed budget breakdown at the end of the project, but judging from what we know:

Initial budget after Kickstarter costs: About 2.2million

Brutal Legend PC: About another million

Humble Bundle: About another million

Plus other sales, the Boxed version, the PS4 version deal going towards the end of season 2, it seems likely that the final budget would be upwards of 6 million.

I would say it came in under 10 million and over 6.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was always hopeing that they earn back the money they invested on top of the kickstarter. With the game seemingly being a big money loose for the company i don´t know how deteiled they will tell us. If you remember the documentary had sales numbers for a while and than stoped.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was always hopeing that they earn back the money they invested on top of the kickstarter. With the game seemingly being a big money loose for the company i don´t know how deteiled they will tell us. If you remember the documentary had sales numbers for a while and than stoped.

The unspoken sentiment behind this quote is something I've been thinking about lately. The philosophy conveyed by the initial DFA Kickstarter pitch was one of openness. In fact, it's what attracted me to the campaign to begin with. Though I am happy with how the documentary turned out I did notice that as the DFA progressed it gradually became less and less open. It started with the decision to not reveal any content that could be considered a spoiler and became more noticeable as Double Fine came under attack and felt the need to better control their message. And though it's understandable how the gradual change in philosophy happened I feel like it's unfortunate that it did.

Now that the development of Broken Age has finished and any fervor related to the Kickstarter campaign has died down it's my hope that Double Fine takes the opportunity to release more detailed specifics for the sake of posterity and as a return to their own philosophy of openness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was always hopeing that they earn back the money they invested on top of the kickstarter. With the game seemingly being a big money loose for the company i don´t know how deteiled they will tell us. If you remember the documentary had sales numbers for a while and than stoped.

The unspoken sentiment behind this quote is something I've been thinking about lately. The philosophy conveyed by the initial DFA Kickstarter pitch was one of openness. In fact, it's what attracted me to the campaign to begin with. Though I am happy with how the documentary turned out I did notice that as the DFA progressed it gradually became less and less open. It started with the decision to not reveal any content that could be considered a spoiler and became more noticeable as Double Fine came under attack and felt the need to better control their message. And though it's understandable how the gradual change in philosophy happened I feel like it's unfortunate that it did.

Now that the development of Broken Age has finished and any fervor related to the Kickstarter campaign has died down it's my hope that Double Fine takes the opportunity to release more detailed specifics for the sake of posterity and as a return to their own philosophy of openness.

Hm, I think spoilery stuff was the right call. It still showed you how everything was coming together, just not the specific plot -- though in the final release I think they are revealing some of blurred out aspects, so you will get to see more of that specific plot coming together I think. In terms of the rest of openness, I honestly feel like it was open throughout. Once episode 20 drops, I'll have a better sense on how I think they achieved their early stated openness, but I think overall it was a fine job.

Smiles

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hm, I think spoilery stuff was the right call. It still showed you how everything was coming together, just not the specific plot -- though in the final release I think they are revealing some of blurred out aspects, so you will get to see more of that specific plot coming together I think. In terms of the rest of openness, I honestly feel like it was open throughout. Once episode 20 drops, I'll have a better sense on how I think they achieved their early stated openness, but I think overall it was a fine job.

Smiles

Oh, no doubt. The DFA is good and I feel like I got more than my money's worth. It's just as someone that backed to see how the sausage was made I personally would have preferred more in-depth detail. While the documentary gives a high-level overview of the process and chronicles the emotional journey of the people involved it does not give much direct insight into how the game was actually made. The early forum updates did a good job of describing the type of detail* I would have liked to have seen but they (the forum updates) turned out to be fairly infrequent.

Fortunately, now that the game is out the need to hide spoilers has passed and the internet craziness has dissipated. This gives Double Fine an opportunity to, if they so chose, release more detailed and specific information which I, for one, would enjoy seeing.

*details such as, How Much Did The DFA Cost?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this