Post tutorial RSS How much did Pokémon Go Cost to Develop?

Exploring the cost of Pokémon Go's development cost. Purely for entertainment purposes, 0 guarantees of accuracy!

Posted by on - Basic Design/Concepts

Since the game itself has been out for some time now and reached massive user numbers, more and more people are starting to consider developing their own game with similar functionality as Pokémon Go.

The combination of augmented reality and gamification has been a massive hit the world over, and are an interesting subject in itself. Today we will explore how much the app potentially cost to develop.

By now, it is safe to assume that multiple developers are programming similar games to Pokémon Go. The popularity and buzz around the game has gotten people otherwise not interested in games or apps to download and play with Pokémons, a remarkable feat.

If you or your company are planning to have their own Augmented Reality Game developed, consider reading this article to learn more about what aspects of the game cost a lot, and which aspects were relatively cheap to develop.

Keep in mind that there are no official data concerning this, so this author is using his extensive app development experience to estimate individual parts of the game, and then combine it all for a total sum.


Pokédex, Backpack, Pokémons, PokéCoins etc.

In order for the Pokédex or Backpack to work properly when adding or removing items, coins or Pokémons, it is necessary to first build a database containing all relevant information, including images, health, statistics and anything else relating to individual items or creatures.

While creating a database itself is not very expensive, integrating the data with various functions and manipulating that data based on different tables and variables, the total cost can grow at an alarming rate.

If we assume that everything is already set in stone, meaning that we won’t change any databases, tables or data entries, creating ~150 different Pokémons, a similar amount of unique items, Pokécoins and all other database worthy entries, it can be assumed that the amount of hours spent would be somewhere in the region of 150 hours.

This number includes the time spent on adding the data itself, if we are just creating an empty table ready for data inputs, this amount would probably be somewhere around 30 hours.

By using an estimated average hourly price for app development, we assume that the price of one hour amounts to $50 USD.

$7,500 USD

GEO location

Distance, Placement, Maps etc.

It doesn’t take long for any skilled app developer to integrate GEO tracking into an app, but to couple it with other functions can be time consuming.

Pokémon Go has made extensive use of seamless integration with many modules, including distance calculation, spawning Pokémons based on your location, entering thousands of locations on the interactive map, all adding significant time spent on development.

The basic GEO location setup normally takes around 5-10 hours, but the added features that Niantic (developers of Pokémon Go,) probably results in something like 150 hours if not more.

$7,500 USD.

Custom Functionality

Game related functions, integrations such as health, damage, fighting, lure modules, egg incubators etc.

The single largest wildcard in any game would have to be the game-specific code. This code is the one that makes the game unique, before this is added, all we have are somewhat default functions such as GEO tracking, Databases etc.

Making these standard features play well with the custom code will take a certain amount of time, but developing the custom code itself is what really costs money. In the terms of Pokémon Go, developing Creatures with health, statistics, levels, and other important data, manipulating that data based on damages, attacks and user inputs take even more time, and integrating all the aspect into one final package takes even longer of course.

This is probably the most difficult section to put a price on, but if we suspect that there was a 100% complete list of specifications, detailing exactly how everything should function, an app development agency would at least have to spend 1000 hours on this part.

$50,000 USD.

World Building

The world itself is built up by a combination of a generic world map and user input where people from all over can add new locations and areas. So while the map itself is static, the locations on it are dynamic and requires custom coding to be implemented with standardized features and modules.

Not only that, but some of the development in this section was already ready since Niantic had used similar features in their other app, called Ingress.

Of course we don’t have access to precise details, but assuming once again that everything is already figured out to the minute specifics, and all is left to code - a conservative estimate on the world building section amounts to 200 hours.

$10,000 USD

Augmented Reality

There’s a huge scene evolving here at the moment, but when Niantic started to develop Ingress, the precursor to Pokémon Go, they had to build all the Augmented Reality from scratch, meaning a lot of time spent on research and experimenting.

These days we have frameworks in Unity3D for AR, and several other open-source GitHub projects are popping up, allowing for faster development with augmented reality. By utilizing these standardized, pre-built frameworks, we can cut down on the time significantly.

Still, there’s quite a bit of work involved in connecting the many different mobile phone cameras for all different devices and operating systems to the game itself. There’s also the added prospect of integrating the AR with the rest of the game, resulting in at least 150 hours of development.

$7,500 USD

Summing up

Adding all these estimations together, we end up at roughly $80,000 USD. While this could easily cost $200,000 USD, if not even more, and might even go as low as $40,000 USD, we feel that the first amount is somewhat fitting, but it does not take into account time spent on developing the specifications and rules of the game itself.

Nor does it take into account time spent on designing the game graphics, optimization and quality assurance. Please note, that we at Nodes, take 0 responsibility for using any figures for your own budget estimations, and highly discourage referencing this article in any other aspect than for enjoyment purposes.

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