The indie developer Happion Laboratories has published a breakdown of the cost of putting a budget game through the Xbox One's ID@Xbox programme. The damage? A little over $5,000.
Happion was founded in 2005 by Jamie Fristrom, who had worked at Treyarch for almost ten years. In a post on the studio's blog, Fristrom explains that he is, "one of the cheapest developers I know," yet to turn a profit after more than nine years as an independent developer.
Second Shooter Prime was Happion's first experience with ID@Xbox and with publishing on an Xbox platform as an indie, so he approached its development, "as frugally as possible."
"We've certainly covered our costs and made a living wage to boot - which is kind of rare in the indie game development world"
"You might think, since Microsoft is giving away their dev kits to early adopters of the ID@Xbox program, as long as you have no offices and pay everyone with rev share you could ship a game for just about nothing," Fristrom said. "But that's not quite the case."
In total, the costs attached to Second Shooter Prime amounted to $5,143, with more than half of that amount effectively mandated by Microsoft. Errors & Omissions Insurance was the second highest cost at $2037, and the policy must cover, "IP and copyright violations."
Microsoft also insists on all products going through the ratings boards of their target markets. Fristrom spent $2042 on getting Second Shooter Prime rated in Europe and the US, but he skipped Australia and New Zealand, which charged $2,000 each. Theoretically, the size of this cost is largely down to developer.
Overall, though, Fristrom's experience with ID@Xbox was very positive.
"Although those costs were somewhat daunting for a shoestring developer like myself, it was absolutely worth it," he said in conclusion. "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."
For the full cost breakdown of Second Shooter Prime, visit the Happion Laboratories website.