After reviewing games for nearly a decade, I've recently decided to retire from reviewing them and take a leap of faith on the other side of the industry - development. After founding my own indie game company, I've been crunching numbers and looking for the perfect place to set my baby free. That's how I discovered an informative post detailing Happion Labs' Xbox One budget for their newly released title, Sixty Second Shooter Prime.
As an early adopter of Microsoft's ID@Xbox program, Happion Labs was sent a dev kit free of charge. Back in the day, dev kits were out of most indie developer's financial reach, so that alone is a godsend. But even in a world with free dev kits, it ended up costing Happion Labs more than $5000 to get Sixty Second Shooter Prime on the Xbox One Marketplace.
One of the biggest expenses was for errors & omissions insurance. It's a requirement by Microsoft and there's simply no way around it, not even by acquiring some low tier E&O insurance online. After going through an insurance broker and finding the cheapest insurance they could qualify for, this set Happion Labs back $2037.
The other big expense was for the rating boards. Much like the E&O insurance, this is also required by Microsoft. If you plan to release in any territory, you have to have your game rated by the official ratings board in that territory. Obviously, the more territories you release in results in a heavier sum, but the reward is sometimes worth it. Of course, you'd also have to pay to have your title localized as well. Naturally, you can always limit the territories you release in during the launch window and later release it in additional territories if the game makes money. In fact, that's what Happion Labs is planning to do. The "wait and release" approach is a little practice can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Most of the other items Happion Labs lists as expenses don't exactly tie into the Xbox One at all. For example, capture equipment for recording a trailer, the website url, and USB cables don't factor into the cost of releasing a game through Microsoft's ID@Xbox program.
Despite this, Happion Labs has supplied us with a nice look into the potential headache inspiring game developers must face when planning to launch a game on the Xbox One.
For those worried about about releasing a game on the Xbox One, I'm happy to inform you that Happion Labs has not only made back what it cost them to make Sixty Second Shooter Prime, but they've also secured themselves a living wage - all in less than a month of being on the Xbox One Marketplace. In this case, the risk was certainly worth it.