how long do video games take to make

How Long do Video Games Take to Make?

Video games have become one of the most lucrative entertainment businesses all over the world. According to Forbes, the video game industry hit a record $139 billion in revenue in 2020. As the industry continues to grow, more people are interested in knowing how long it takes to develop a video game.

The Process of Making a Video Game

The development of video games is an extensive process that requires time and patience. The process typically involves five stages:

1. Defining and Conceptualizing

The first stage in developing a video game is brainstorming game ideas. Developers can come up with numerous ideas, but only a few get approved for development. Once an idea has been approved, the team begins developing concept art and storyboards for the game.

2. Design & Planning

After defining the concept, developers create a design document that outlines the gameplay mechanics and technical aspects of the game. They also develop a prototype with basic controls and gameplay loops to test the concept and ensure that it’s feasible. Additionally, they establish technical requirements such as graphic quality, frame rate, and compatibility with different devices.

3. Production

In this stage, game developers create assets like characters, levels, and sound effects used in-game. They also write codes that enable players to interact with these assets while playing the game.

4. Quality Assurance

This stage involves testing and debugging different aspects of the game to identify issues that require fixing before launch date.

5. Launch & Post-Launch

This final stage includes preparing for launch by marketing the game through trailers or demos. After launching, developers need to address any bugs or issues that players encounter while playing the game by releasing updates or patches.

Factors Which Affect The Timeframe for Game Development

Several factors can determine how long it takes to develop a video game. These include:

  • Game Scope and Complexity: The more complex the game, the longer it takes to develop. An action-adventure game like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End takes about three years to complete because of its elaborate storyline and advanced graphics.
  • Team Size and Experience: The size of a development team can also influence the time taken to create a video game. Large teams have more resources at their disposal and can divide tasks among their members to speed up production. Experience is equally important since an experienced team may work faster than inexperienced ones.
  • Technology/ Technical Requirements: New technology may take longer to incorporate into a game’s development process. For example, creating a VR game with sophisticated interactive gameplay experience requires significant technical expertise, taking much more time than traditional methods of gaming.
  • Collaboration with External Partners: Games with collaborations require extra time during the development process because of the need to negotiate agreements and merge resources between multiple internal and external studios.

Case Studies: Types of Games and Their Development Timeframes

The time frame for developing games differs across titles, genres, budgets, and teams involved in their development. Here are some examples of various types of games and their development timelines:

AAA Games

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim is an open-world role-playing game that took Bethesda Game Studios about three and a half years to develop. The game made its debut in November 2011 and has since gained immense popularity because of its stunning graphics, vast world-building, and captivating gameplay.

Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V took about five years to develop before its release in 2013. The game offered various gameplay mechanics like multiplayer online gameplay, exploration of elaborate environments, and incredible attention to detail.

Indie Games


The independent game Braid took two guys less than three years to create. Created with basic tools such as Adobe Flash and Photoshop, the game was successful because of its magnificent storytelling, challenging puzzles, and unique gameplay mechanics.


Celeste is an award-winning indie game developed by Matt Makes Games. It took the team four years to complete and was initially released on January 25, 2018. The game received positive reviews because of its mix of platforming challenges and emotional storyline.

Challenges/Mistakes in Game Development

The video game industry is fraught with several challenges that make it difficult for developers to meet deadlines or produce high-quality games.

Management Issues

  • Communication Breakdowns Within Team Members: Miscommunication between team members can lead to significant delays and mismanagement during the development process. For example, a mistake made during the design phase ended up costing Rare around £7m ($9m) during the development of Perfect Dark Zero.
  • Insufficient Man-Power: Developers may face man-power shortages or lack access to funding for their games, which also leads to mismanagement.

Technical Difficulties

  • Tight Deadlines: Developers may rush to meet tight deadlines, which can negatively affect a game’s overall quality. Inept quality assurance testing can lead to players encountering several bugs and it takes time before updates or patches are released. This happened with many titles like Fallout 76 and No Man’s Sky.


In conclusion, the time taken to develop a video game varies due to several factors such as scope, team size, experience, technology, and collaboration. The development team should effectively organize itself throughout the entire process to ensure timely delivery of high-quality games. Videogame development is a craft that requires precise teamwork, planning, and execution. Understanding the processes involved helps us appreciate the creation of these fantastic entertainment products that we all enjoy.

How Long do Video Games Take to Make: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the average length of time it takes to develop a video game?

The length of time it takes to develop a video game largely depends on the size and complexity of the game being developed. However, on average, it can take anywhere from 18 months to 5 years or more.

2. Why does video game development take so long?

The process of developing a video game involves many complex stages such as concept creation, game design and development, coding and programming, art and animation, sound effects, testing, and bug fixes. As such, all these phases require significant resources, time, effort, and coordination.

3. Does the size of the development team affect the timing of video game creation?

Yes. The number of team members on a video game development project varies based on the project scope and complexity. Generally speaking, larger projects require bigger teams with expertise in coding, design, audio-visuals, etc. Thus having a smaller team will mean more time for each individual to cover each aspect.

4. Are indie games quicker to develop than AAA titles?

Indie games are smaller in scope; however, there is no set formula for how long it takes to build them since the individual workload may vary widely depending on how experienced your team is or which technologies you work with. AAA games are typically produced faster than indie games because they tend to have larger budgets and more established teams with vast experience.

5. Is there any way to speed up video game development timelines?

While developing a video game according to its scope is required; working smartly instead of harder can usually save a lot of time. Utilizing pre-made game engines such as Unity or Unreal Engine could save a lot of time and effort. Moreover, these engines also provide a vast collection of assets, animation tools, effects, and sound quality that your project requires.

6. Can video game development schedules change during the production process?

Yes, like any other project deadline; sometimes game development schedules may change during production based on unforeseen circumstances such as changes in technology, budget cuts, health crises, unpredictable market shifts. All team members have to work together to manage timelines in the best way possible.

7. Are there any factors that contribute to longer turnaround times for video game development?

  • 1. The complexity and scope of the game
  • 2. Budget constraints
  • 3. Technical hurdles and difficulties in the programming or design process
  • 4. Resource imbalances such as inadequate manpower or hardware requirements
  • 5. Poor communication and coordination among team members
  • 6. Changes in direction and scope at various phases of the project life cycle
  • 7. Working remotely due to global pandemics

We hope that these FAQs shed some light on how long video games take to make!

keys takeaways

How Long Does it Take to Make a Video Game?

Creating a video game is a complex process that can take years to complete. Here are 4 key takeaways on how long it takes to make a video game:

  1. Size and Scope: The size and scope of a game can greatly impact development time. Small, indie games may take a few months while large, AAA titles can take several years.
  2. Team size: The number of people working on a game plays an important role in its development time. A small team of developers may take longer than a larger team with more resources.
  3. Technology: The technology used to create a game can help speed up development time. Using advanced toolsets and software can make development faster.
  4. Experience: Experienced developers with knowledge of the game development process can help speed up production time. Teams that have worked together before may also be able to develop games faster due to efficiency and familiarity with each other’s work processes.

In conclusion, the time it takes to create a video game depends on several factors such as the project’s size and scope, team size, technology used, and the experience of the developers working on it.

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