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DeNA can get $5 million in revenue from a seven-man team

DeNA finds that social mobile gaming can be big money with very small development teams

Japanese social mobile firm DeNA has told Gamasutra that it can see up to $5 million in revenue from a free-to-play title developed by only seven people. The huge returns illustrate how lucrative the social and mobile markets can be for developers and publishers.

"With most social games we develop, there are two programmers, three engineers, and one art designer. That and one database engineer. So about seven people overall, and it takes maybe four or five months to develop a game. These products have the potential to gross at least $1 million a year, and the revenue can continue for upward of five years. So we can get at least $5 million out of a game developed by seven people," said DeNA director Kenji Kobayashi.

Sadly, those seven employees do not see a share of the profits, according to Kobayashi.

"Well, there is profit-sharing model with the third parties we work with, but as far as in-house staff goes, that is more regular compensation. The revenue of the title is related to the compensation of each employee, but not directly," he said.

Kobayashi said that you have to start users off slow in order show them how useful payments can be for their game.

"So it's important to have the user think about the possibilities that become available. Users aren't going to immediately place money on the game the moment they start playing, so one thing you have to do is introduce something cheap at the start which will demonstrably make the gameplay experience easier. That way, even people who've always been dead-set against spending money might think 'Well, this is at a big discount; maybe I'll give it a try.' Then, if they feel afterwards that making that purchase has made things demonstrably easier for them, they'll be more open to that in the future."

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Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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