Top-Tier Mobile Game Publishers Spend $21 Million on Custom Tech

Top-tier mobile game publishers are investing more than $21 million to build and maintain internal technology and tooling. That’s the startling headline of new research from mobile game development company, Metaplay, which also dives into the hidden, human costs of game programmers who are diverted to work on tech instead of gaming content.

Based on a survey of 125 senior executives at large mobile game development companies in the United States, the data shows that large publishers are spending an average of $21,662,784 to build and maintain their backend tech. Respondents, all of whom are C-level execs or tech team leads at companies with at least 50 staff, were asked questions relating to the size of their tech teams, how long they had been working on internal tools, and their teams’ remuneration. They said:

  • $138,864 is the average salary of an employee working on internal tech at major publishers in the United States

  • 52 is the average number of employees working predominantly in internal tech

  • 36 months is the average number of months the companies surveyed had been building internal tech (just over three years)

Beyond the hard numbers, there are human costs associated with the in-house development of backend tech. Almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents said their game programmers had been impacted by being redeployed to work on internal tech as opposed to gaming content. Of those who had redeployed staff, 41% said that doing so had slowed the game development process, 34% said it had increased ‘crunch’ working practices, and 34% said this led to higher employee turnover.

Teemu Haila, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Metaplay, commented:

“As a company which has spent almost four years focused entirely on building backend tech for mobile games, even we had to do a double-take when we saw these stats. Shipping a long-lasting hit game was already very challenging, but the current state of the mobile gaming market means investment at this level without any guarantee of success is incredibly risky. We’re trying to fix the binary choice of ‘build vs buy’ when it comes to backend tech – where ‘build’ means expensive and ‘buy’ means unscalable, so mobile devs can focus on making great content.”

Matt Wilson, mobile gaming advisor and investor, said:

“This research shows that building internal tech is becoming prohibitively expensive as well as distracting game-makers from their day jobs. As an investor, I generally want to see as much capital as possible to go towards developing the product. Many companies still suffer from an ‘if it’s not built here, it’s not good enough’ mentality but, while that may have been true in the past, it’s certainly not always the case now.”

Further key findings from the research:

  • Top-tier game studios in the US are most likely to be developing strategy games (58%) and shooters (57%). They’re least likely to be working on hypercasual (22%) and card-collecting games (18%)

  • Respondents’ companies are most likely to outsource or use third-party tooling for security and compliance (43%), multiplayer and/or matchmaking (42%), and game logic server hosting (41%). They’re least likely to outsource observability tooling (26%), and data pipelines (14%)

As well as being available as a whitepaper here, the research has today been released as a hard copy book which is available at Nordic Game Conference stand D6, or on request from Metaplay.

Sponsored Ads
sloto cash casino cash bandits 3
Visit Now

*Advertising | 18+ | General terms and conditions apply. Visit the casino website for more information. | Play responsibly.

New Casinos
4.0 rating
Get the Welcome Package up to $/€ 1,000. Code: SILVER125
4.3 rating
Claim your Welcome Package up to $14,000. Bonus code: LASATLANTIS
4.3 rating
Claim your Welcome Package up to $1,500 + 150 Free Spins
4.5 rating
Exclusive Welcome Bonus 250% up to $5,000
4.5 rating
Get a €800 Welcome Bonus + 100 Free Spins