How Much Does an Xbox One Port Cost?

Sixty Second Shooter developer outlines the exact cost of porting a game to the Xbox platform via the ID@Xbox program, and it's not cheap.

When Microsoft started the ID@Xbox program with the launch of the Xbox One, the company aimed to make it as easy and cheap as possible for independent developers to put their games on the system. But according to one developer, the costs associated with porting a game to the Xbox One are still very high.

In a post on his blog, Happion Laboratories' Jamie Fristrom outlined exactly how much it cost him to bring Sixty Second Shooter from the PC to the Xbox One. He was surprised by just how much money console development still requires, especially because Microsoft gives Xbox development kits out for free to qualifying teams. He wrote, "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[enue] share you could ship a game for just about nothing. But that's not quite the case."

He presents a breakdown of the costs associated with the program, which you can see below.

  • Maintaining the Sixty Second Shooter URL -- $19
  • Sending the second dev kit to a friend -- $63
  • Hardware -- $72
  • Video capture device -- $181
  • Localization -- $729
  • Error and Omission Insurance -- $2037
  • Foreign Ratings Boards -- $2042
  • Total -- $5143

For a small developer with very limited funds, this can be prohibitively expensive. According to Fristrom, Microsoft requires specific Errors and Omissions insurance to protect against copyright infringements. To launch on the console in other territories, Microsoft also requires that a game pass through the ratings boards in those areas, resulting in a spike in cost. He wrote also that he wanted to launch the game in Australia and New Zealand, but getting it rated would have cost $2000 in each of those countries.

Fristrom does, however, say that getting a game out on a platform with the reach of the Xbox One is worth the cost. "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--so I'm really happy we jumped aboard the ID@Xbox wagon."

Microsoft does have plans to make indie development even easier. Last year, the company announced that any Xbox One would eventually be able to act as a dev kit, and earlier in July Microsoft debunked rumors that this project was canceled. However, the company has given no official word on when this functionality will launch.

Alex Newhouse is an editorial intern at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @alexbnewhouse
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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145 comments
metallinatus
metallinatus

High-cost ports + poor sales = not profitable at all.

Devs should stick with making games for PS4 and Wii U only, develop for Xone is definitely not worth.

ItchyIsVegeta
ItchyIsVegeta

The title specifically says "port", as in taking an existing game from another platform and placing it on the Xbox One.  So if you have a game on Steam already, and it has already become a moderate hit, $5143 is a small investment that you have already easily grossed to PORT that game to the Xbox One.  If not, then there is a reason the game wasn't successful and isn't work PORTing to the Xbox One in the first place. 

Now if you are talking about developing a game for the Xbox One first, instead of PORTing it from another platform, $5143 can be quite the investment.  Yet, lets compare that to starting a business.  Chump change in comparison to the average business. 

If a person has a serious talent to make something good or amazing, then $5143 is nothing.  Hell, impress me with a really good demo video, and I will even front the $5143, for a percentage of the profits.

KSSuperhero
KSSuperhero

Wow he thinks $5143 is a lot of money, its really just chicken scratch unless he was a burger flipper.

waredati
waredati

this is cheap but i know it will get cheaper . microsoft always do that . 

they are first official software company in the world if they don't understand game programmers then who does?!

Relvar
Relvar

WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. Game development for an indie title shouldn't cost more than $1,000

smurfa1
smurfa1

Developer reporting in. That is not much, practicly what a standalone license cost for Visual Studio. So you basically have to do nothing more than development and they take care of the rest, for less than a development platform.

Darknight765
Darknight765

All those things seem like the basic cost of doing business. $5000 to port and you get free advertising and your game goes at the top of the "new release" sections for everyone to see. Yea cry more.

AshTrai
AshTrai

doesn't seem that bad to me...especially if we're nitpicking with things mentioned such as registering a domain for a year... and sending a piece of hardware via courier to somewhere else...


Are age ratings not required in the countries that use them?

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

To be fair I thought the price was going to be something horrific...


$5000 can probably be quite easily recouped once it launches..  Even if MS take 30% of the profits they still don't need huge sales to gain it back - especially if the titles are being charged at $15 a pop.


Round it down to $10 profit for each game sold and that means they'd need to shift 500 copies to break even.  Doddle.

Ahiru-San
Ahiru-San

$729 in localization is just dumb… since it's an 'indie' sutdio, why not ask in forums and such for help? lots of people and beta testers are eager to help in translation for free… and that's not just games...

Triton
Triton

The PortSystem4 has this already down to science at porting games over. And doing very well at it might I add.

the_real_VIP
the_real_VIP

$5000 is nothing compared to the cost of porting AAA games.

CarnivaleClown
CarnivaleClown

So you have to spend money to make money? Well that just sounds ridiculous.... Damn you Microsoft for giving away free devkits and not also paying for all these extra services and misc. line items. Outrageous! 

mr_nee
mr_nee

If that dev kit thing ever happens might get a bone to run homebrew games, but that's only if you don't have to pay for dev registration

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Like others, I first thought this article was covering larger games, but it's still a very interesting read. While I will somewhat agree that $5000 doesn't SEEM that much, I doubt he had to spend that much to put his game on sale for the PC (excluding the cost to actually make the game). That's a nice chunk of cash to put towards trying to expand your customer base. Never heard of this game before, but I'm willing to give it a try.

alphawolf-j
alphawolf-j

For those of you that think £5000 is not  that much money REALLY?.

Mayby not for a big studio but for a indie developer its a big hurdle, not everybody has a spare £5000 lying with not even a grantee of reclaiming the cost. As a indie developer my self  starting out, this has totally put me off the xbox model  because It costs me nothing to create games on PC apart from the tools.


The way I see it if I ever put out a product that MS would like to see on there box they can pay me.

RobDev
RobDev

some people seem to be missing the point. he's not complaining about it he's simply listing the costs. Just saying people might be thinking it's next to free to port a game but it's not . Can see no whining or complaining in what he is saying. In fact ""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--so I'm really happy we jumped aboard the ID@Xbox wagon." indicates he's doing the opposite of complaining. 


The line "For a small developer with very limited funds, this can be prohibitively expensive." is from the writer and is true. for a small number of indie developers it would stop them porting their game. it obviously didn't stop this guy.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

Bad title is bad. Or just not clear enough. I wouldn't have clicked on this if I knew it was about indie game ports. I was more curious about the cost of porting AAA games. But that is quite the chunk of dough for a indie developer that may be tight on cash. The real question is if you can realistically expect to make your money back when the port goes to market... or your business's relationship with the bank. 

hystavito
hystavito

Well lots of people are saying $5000 isn't really all that much to get your game on such a platform, and I agree.  This isn't like PC gaming in general or even getting on Steam, I think once you've even reached this point of trying to get your game on Xbox One you can certainly somehow come up with $5000.

xBinary01111000
xBinary01111000

I thought this article was going to be about the time and effort it takes to adapt the game code. Never mind.....

Printul_Noptii
Printul_Noptii

believe it or not guys gaming and hardware/software is way cheaper nowadays than it was back in the 80ties or 90ties but back then you did get your joy out of the games, nowadays its just an endless stream of media.

viru_ssj
viru_ssj

If Microsoft is charging 30% per game sold , shouldn't they be covering the localization costs ?

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

It's really not a lot of money compared to what it costs to make games.  It's not a small amount, but it acts as something of a barrier from letting anything up.  PC allows you to put up whatever you want, but that's obviously not the same thing at all.

mark5225
mark5225

Not bad game development costs and 5k ain't bad

surrealme
surrealme

$5k is very little money to get your game on a major platform and in front of millions of eyeballs. If the game is sold at the low cost of $10, that's only 500 units that need to be moved to hit break even.  If MS takes 30% then 720 units or so. Compare that to someone starting up a food truck, or opening a restaurant, or trying to get shelf space in a major retailer for their widget. $5k is a low barrier to entry.

StHapns247
StHapns247

That is not that much money. It can cost way more than that to start other types of businesses and the returns usually roll in slower. Not to mention being instantly accessible by millions of people and promoted as well.

xcollector
xcollector

What the hell is this insurance scam? So you have to pay their lawyers to protect them from you? What a rip off. The MS insurance is almost half the cost. The other half gets wasted on a rating system that doesn't work. So much money wasted because of corporate politics.

$5000 isn't a lot when you're talking about a big seller. But if they sell this thing for $5 and MS gets a 30% cut, they would need to sell roughly 1500 copies to break even. It isn't always easy to reach big sale numbers with smaller indie titles especially on a platform that is focused more on big budget AAA games.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

However, what is the percent of total revenue that has to be kicked back to Microsoft for sales on their console?  I hear that's around 30% (though no one gives actual numbers b/c that is confidential).  That seems like a much more significant cost than $5,000

megawavez
megawavez

And it doesn't even include an XBox !!

straightcur
straightcur

Seriously, that's not that much.  $5000 to start a business and it only takes one hit and you're off and running.  Even if your game is a complete failure, losing $5000 isn't going to put you out on the streets.  Pretty small risk for a potentially large reward!!

RevLux
RevLux

I agree that $5k doesn't seem like that much for porting a game to the XB1. Though it seems even $2k was prohibitively expensive to this particular small developer. Since they decided they couldn't afford that much to get the game into Australian gamer's hands. Hopefully they will make enough with it's limited launch to be able to release in other regions soon.

parabol69
parabol69

@ItchyIsVegeta This article is yet another reason to turn something minuscule into a negative story against the XB1.  I'm sure the writer is also one of the geniuses that thinks PS Now is reasonable.  If $5K is too much to port a game for these so-called developers, then maybe they should get into a new profession.  This f'ing generation is always looking for a free handout.

ooblah
ooblah

@Darknight765 

If you read the article, the devs mentioned they were happy joining ID@Xbox.

Ahiru-San
Ahiru-San

@warhawk-geeby this game specific is $5 I think, which is the cheapest, and a "true" XBLArcade game… although not like Geometry Wars (which was also $5 and so much better back then…) 


still, I believe it's selling just fine for the price (most XBLA->now "ID@XBOX") are way overpriced (>$15)

rogerpdaultry
rogerpdaultry

@Ahiru-San $729 in localization is a steal. I'm not sure how they are getting away with such cheap fees associated.

RobDev
RobDev

@CarnivaleClown hmmm, you almost make it seem like he was complaining about it as opposed to just listing the cost associated with it. 

waredati
waredati

@alphawolf-j if you win a IGF award they call you and you dont need pay sh*it. 

every game developers think their game would be mind blower but in reality just 1% or less of them can do it right.

Keivz_basic
Keivz_basic

@alphawolf-j $5000, not pounds. So yeah, not that much to chase a dream, imo. What a crap article.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

@RobDev The one thing that the internet has shown me more than anything is that reading comprehension is not a skill that everyone possess... Well that and a lot of people just read the title or skim a few words and make assumptions based on that. 

saturatedbutter
saturatedbutter

@xcollector According to the article they have at least 10k entries on the game's leaderboards. If that means each leaderboard entry = 1 game copy sold, then that's $50,000 at $5 per copy. 30% to Microsoft leaves 35k for the devs. ~30k is profit on the port. And that's before they've even gotten their first sales report. Then again I could be completely wrong and a player adds a new entry to the leaderboard every time they play.

hal2k
hal2k

@megawavez Hmm?  Did you miss the giant orange text where it says they were given (two) for free?  That was probably with a kinect, so that would be $1000 saved for the retail version...devkits are usually substantially more than their retail counterparts though.

Daelusca
Daelusca

@RobDev @CarnivaleClown While you could read the article either way, it is hard to blame someone for reading it as if he was complaining, that is the overall tone of the article (and normally the slant GS puts on most articles...its almost as if they want people commenting...who knew). 


If GS wanted it to be a more balanced article, they could have started the article by admitting that the developer in question has zero business experience and didn't realize the costs associated with his industry (or any industry in general).