Cost of quality has jumped for powerful new handhelds, developers say

Game budgets ‘have tripled’ on 3DS and PSP2

The arrival of two new handheld platforms will bring high-end mobile technologies to the market, but also a significant increase in project budgets, according to developers working in the field.

One studio head told Develop that 3DS launch titles “clearly have budgets two-to-three times what typical DS games have seen in the past”.

JC Connors, of Foundation 9’s handheld specialist subsidiary Griptonite Games added that “it simply takes more time and effort to design towards all the devices’ advanced features”.

“If you wanted to spend console money on developing a PSP2 or 3DS title, every penny of it would show, and clearly some of the launch titles have budgets two-to-three times what typical DS games have seen in the past,” he added.

Foundation 9 has been developing PSP2 and 3DS games for a number of months.

In a new Develop handheld games feature, published today, developers such as Connors explore what both Sony and Nintendo’s devices mean for the game development scene.

Chris Kingsley, the co-founder of UK studio Rebellion, said the “biggest challenge [on PSP2 and 3DS projects] will be development budgets.”

Rebellion has re-engineered its mobile games engine, Asura, for both Nintendo and Sony’s upcoming handhelds.

“With more powerful machines to develop on, expectations are higher and you have to spend more time and money creating larger and more detailed worlds,” Kingsley said.

“With more power comes greater expectation,” he added.

Talk of exorbitant development costs further contrasts Sony and Nintendo’s mobile technologies from smartphone games. iPhone phenomenon Angry Birds, for example, reportedly cost Rovio $140,000 to create.

PSP2 and 3DS game projects, by contrast, are expected to routinely pass the million dollar barrier.

The 3DS will launch in the west from March 25th. The release of Sony’s PSP2 is a matter of speculation, with the device coming to at least one territory by the year’s end.

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