Cancellation of Video Games at the Final Stage: The Math and Hidden Cost of Publishing a Game

Video games are popular all over the world, though many players seldom consider the cost involved with development. Many factors are involved, and much will depend on the overall complexity of a game being created. For students taking a course in graphic arts, game development, or even marketing, you will need to learn what is exactly involved. To better understand this industry, it is essential to be aware of the money spent on various game development and release stages. Here, we look deeper into those costs along with the hidden cost of “getting to the net.”

Main Costs Faced

There are many different areas of development involved, and these will all have specific costs. Each developer will need to have teams of professionals working towards the same goal, and each of these teams will have specific roles. With this comes a budget. The expense of publishing will again depend on the complexity of the title being developed.

Salary for Development Teams

The main cost will be money spent on the team of game developers. There will be different teams involved here, including designers, programmers, animations and graphics specialists, sound designers, and testing experts. Companies creating a new title can find these from a tech company or are free to hire freelancers to perform duties. The choice will be based on the resources available and how significant this project will be.

Equipment and Property Rights

When creating a video game, characters cannot be used without the purchase of the intellectual property. This is also true when including any celebrity voices or specific brand. Developers will have to purchase equipment and software to create content such as recording studios, iPads, Android devices, Microsoft HoloLens, and more.

Refund Rates

As a new developer, you may release your creation on Steam. In 2015, a Steam refund policy was introduced, and this was offered to players who have played a title for less than 2 hours. If they are not happy, they can request a Steam chargeback. Refund rates can increase the overall costs of releasing a new title. If a game does not make a strong impression, these rates will be high. Any refund on Steam will eat into gross revenue, which will have to be considered in the budget when planning on game creation.

Why Mathematics Play a Key Role

You may not realize it, but the math of video game logistics plays a key role in developing any video game. Those involved in any process of development will have to know mathematics. As a college student, you should master different types of math to pursue a video game design career. With college math answers available, students can get help on assignments and projects to master the other areas of mathematics. The following types of math are required for any aspiring developer, and you will find the most successful development teams are math masters in:

  • Algebra
  • Linear algebra
  • Basic Algorithms
  • Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Physics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Discrete Mathematics

The mathematics of video game development is the key to success, and without proper knowledge, successful titles cannot be created. Every member of a game design team should have a solid math background and be well versed in different mathematical areas. As a student in college, knowledge of mathematics will be required if you are studying graphics design, programming, or game development.

Marketing Strategies

Video game marketing strategies play a crucial role in launching any new game, and one major cost will be the PR and marketing team. You will need to have professional social media and online marketers to target appropriate audiences and develop awareness. Many developers of Indie games will use a 25-50% rule for marketing. With this, for every $1 spent making the new title, you will spend an additional 25-50% on marketing it. This is one major aspect to consider when cancelling a video game that was almost completed: it may be more expensive to publish it than leaving it behind.

How Game Cancellation is a Problem

There will be some cases where a video game will get canceled. There are different reasons for this, such as it not being fun for players, poor management from the design team, the game being over-budget, or new hardware being released. Video game cancellation can be very costly and can be devastating to a smaller company. Not only is there a loss of funds, but personal losses as well. Many designers attach to projects they work on, and when it is canceled, a period of mourning occurs. During this time, most teams are not as effective and do not want to tackle a new project.


Despite the thousands of titles that have been released and the many more slated for release, there are still many that never make it on the shelves as they are canceled during the final stages. For developers, this can lead to the loss of thousands of dollars. There is an unexpected cost associated with the creation of any video game. With multiple teams needed, PR and marketing requirements, and costs for equipment, the last-minute cancelations are a costly problem faced by today’s developers.