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Default Elder Scrolls Online - Development Cost?

January 2nd, 2014, 16:48
iGame Responsibly writes that The Elder Scrolls Online Development cost is insane. According to the site the MMO cost Bethesda more than $200 million.

Now I must warn you the following story hasn't been proven true so it is still a rumor at this piont. I wouldn't be surprised though as one other MMO almost cost that much.

We know that The Elder Scrolls Online is one hell of an undertaking for Bethesda. ZeniMax Online Studios have been working on the title for quite some time, and apparently the development cost is in the multiple hundred million dollar neighborhood. Reports from a reliable industry source cite a $200M price tag for development thus far.

Many have questioned the monthly subscription model that The Elder Scrolls Online will employ, but when you consider that enormous development budget, things become a bit more clear. Hopefully the studio has planned ahead with tons of end game content to keep players coming back for years to come, or The Elder Scrolls Online may be headed for disaster.
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January 2nd, 2014, 16:48
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January 2nd, 2014, 16:51
Oh, I'd love to see a breakdown of where each pot of money goes. Someone is living large.
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January 2nd, 2014, 17:09
So apparently they are copying the original Toro business model as well as their design philosophy down to a tee, budget and all.
Considering how well that worked out for EA i really hope bethesda has that kind of money to burn as Eso wont be the only console mmo for long.
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January 2nd, 2014, 17:45
Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
Oh, I'd love to see a breakdown of where each pot of money goes. Someone is living large.
Most of it is probably salaries. AAA MMO teams are usually over 200 devs. Zenimax Online Studio opened in 2007 (although not with 200 devs).

Take 5 years, put 200 devs, give them an average cost to the company of 100k/head (salary + benefits) and you get 100 millions price tag just to have people working for these 5 years. You don't have any server infrastructure yet, no space to have your dev work in, no computers, no softwares licenses, no marketing expense (conventions, publicity), no website, no customer support, etc.
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January 2nd, 2014, 18:34
After having thought about this for awhile, I call bullshit. There's no way they spent 200 mil unless they did a major u-turn somewhere during production.

You look at BioEA's budget for Star Wars TOR, which was huge by any media standards, and you realize they had something like a million lines of dialogue. I seriously doubt there's going to be that kind of voice acting going on here. Granted, that's just a small piece of the puzzle, but it's an expensive piece.

The math done above— $100k/per dev is way too high, even when benefits are included. I'd have to think most are making half that, at best, outside of management. $40-50k is more like it, and that's for actual skill people. The worker bees (office staff, etc) are probably on an hourly wage giving them maybe $20-30k. And interns are often free.

Naw, the numbers don't add up. Even when marketing is considered.
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January 2nd, 2014, 18:42
Originally Posted by ChaosTheory View Post
After having thought about this for awhile, I call bullshit. There's no way they spent 200 mil unless they did a major u-turn somewhere during production.

You look at BioEA's budget for Star Wars TOR, which was huge by any media standards, and you realize they had something like a million lines of dialogue. I seriously doubt there's going to be that kind of voice acting going on here. Granted, that's just a small piece of the puzzle, but it's an expensive piece.

The math done above— $100k/per dev is way too high, even when benefits are included. I'd have to think most are making half that, at best, outside of management. $40-50k is more like it, and that's for actual skill people. The worker bees (office staff, etc) are probably on an hourly wage giving them maybe $20-30k. And interns are often free.

Naw, the numbers don't add up. Even when marketing is considered.
I think your numbers (40/50) are too low as well. I think 70k - 80k is reasonable.

Anyway it was estimated that Skyrim (a single player game) cost them about $85 to $100 million in development and marketing budget so $200 mill for an MMO seem "cheap".

http://www.statisticbrain.com/skyrim…-v-statistics/
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January 2nd, 2014, 18:46
$50K for software dev? What country/region is this dev in? That's almost an offshore rate. A US developer should be around 100K averaged and $150K for poject management and senior dev.

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January 2nd, 2014, 19:07
As long as it won't affect future development of singleplayer titles, they can burn a billion for all I care.

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January 2nd, 2014, 19:12
Recouping 200m will be a cakewalk for them anyway.

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January 2nd, 2014, 20:11
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
Recouping 200m will be a cakewalk for them anyway.
If they spent $200 mill, then I guess they will need to make double that to make a profit. Someone has to pay all the interest on loans etc.

However in order to be considered a "successful MMO" they need to make more than profit. They will need to make profit year on year and they will need to show growth in player number in addition to that. Take the star wars MMO, it certainly made a profit but its considered a "failed MMO". I have a feeling that ESO will be considered a "failed MMO" say a year after release and that will then damage the elder scrolls brand (i.e. single player games too) ….
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January 2nd, 2014, 20:33
I wouldn't discount the Elder Scrolls brand based on Star Wars. Star Wars burnt itself out with bad products, films, shows and general over exposure long before the MMO. Skyrim made 1.3B in sales and fantasy MMO's always draw.

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January 2nd, 2014, 21:05
very unlikely. that far exceeds even our resident hero baseball failure reckoning alamur whatever its called.
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January 2nd, 2014, 21:19
$50k in the gaming industry is reasonable. A few years ago EA was paying their grunts $40k a year. Its all for the privilege of working in the gaming industry instead of application software. On a contract basis they wouldn't have to pay benefits either and those'll likely be gone at rollout.

However, there are no free interns - that's illegal now, as KlickNation found out as part of their buyout from EA.

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January 2nd, 2014, 21:23
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
Recouping 200m will be a cakewalk for them anyway.
I don't have any grounds to doubt this statement but how come you're so certain? We're in 2014, where are all these people waiting to jump to the next MMO? The Elder Scrolls brand has some pull but in the context of the industry (CoDs, GTAs, FIFAs, Halos, Marios etc) it's hardly monumental.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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January 2nd, 2014, 21:56
Wll it's looking like it might be true as other sites are even now reporting on it. I don't think they will have a problem making it all back either.

My prediction is one or two years of subscriptions followed by a F2P overhaul of the game. All in the name of maximizing profit of course.

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Last edited by Couchpotato; January 2nd, 2014 at 22:06.
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January 2nd, 2014, 22:06
I bet you're right Couch and I would go as far as to say that the game is probably being made with the provision to make free to play easy to implement.
However, as burned out as most MMO gamers are with Asian themed games, I give it about three years if they crank out the expansions.
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January 2nd, 2014, 22:22
If Turbine can pull in $20m a year for its stuff Bethesda is likely to pull in 2-3 times that or more based on their brand alone. MMO's, Oblivion and Skyrim may not be loved universally by the Watch/Codex, but they are loved. Even if the MMO market is saturated now, Elder Scrolls will make room for itself by leaching players and attract new to MMO players the same way LOTRO did at its launch. Bethesda doesn't make too many product errors financially.

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January 2nd, 2014, 23:32
Supposedly SW:TOR was also going to be financially viable, leech players from other games and so on. And we all know how well that turned out.
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January 2nd, 2014, 23:58
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
$50k in the gaming industry is reasonable. A few years ago EA was paying their grunts $40k a year. Its all for the privilege of working in the gaming industry instead of application software. On a contract basis they wouldn't have to pay benefits either and those'll likely be gone at rollout.
Yes. Salaries in the gaming industry are quite low, comparatively. People buy into the hype, sacrificing their salaries (as well as their lives during crunch time). 50-60k might be the median these days. Higher of course for project leads.
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