In order not to overshot the frame size, the game’s title has been cut short from the full name, “The Duke of Mount Deer Online”. Developed by Chinese MMO giant ChangYou over a period of 4 years, “industry veterans” have taken the unusual step of announcing rough estimations of the various costs required to develop the game. I wonder if it is just a PR thing though as this article wasn’t posted on the official website. Over the past few day, I have been playing for a few hours in the Closed Beta. I thought Forsaken World has tons of features. I was wrong, so stay tuned for a short preview tomorrow. Let’s get back on topic!
First, the cost of the China-based team working on the title. This team is responsible for translating the original novel by Louis Cha into the online world and adding some original ideas to it as well. Top talents are recruited in various departments, including art, programming, production and more. The average annual salary is 120,000 Chinese Yuan, hence the 400-strong development team over the period of 4 years costs around 192,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 26 million). Factoring in other benefits including insurance policies and bonus, the amount could rise up till around 210,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 32.5 million). We are still missing the facilities and equipment costs here!
Second, the cost of the ChangYou Korea team. An additional 200 staff, they are responsible for creating the new elements in Duke of Mount Deer Online, which means the content not found in the original novel in order to expand the game world and lore. Headed by NCsoft’s former art director, members of the team hail from various developers including NCsoft and Nexon having worked on huge titles including the Lineage series and Aion. The average annual salary is thrice that of China’s at around 360,000 Chinese Yuan. Hence, over the last 2 years, a total amount of 144,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 17.7 million) was spent on human resources. Adding in facilities, equipments and other misc costs, the final amount is around 160,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 24.7 million).
Third, industry veterans hired to produce up till 260 hours of in-game 3D animations, mostly serving as cut scenes in quests etc. ChangYou’s CEO commented that the animations found in the cut scenes are comparable to those found in console games such as the Final Fantasy series. The price tag in China is around 5,000 Chinese Yuan for every minute, hence 260 hours will cost around 78,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 12 million).
We are not done yet. Next is the post-development costs. Tasks such as implementing new systems and hiring a renown martial arts master for motion capture were done. Factoring in the costs of equipments, the fee for the overall motion capture stands at around 8,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 1.2 million). Not forgetting the hiring of some of China’s biggest entertainment stars to contribute to the game’s voice overs and theme songs, the cost here is around 10,000,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 1.5 million).
The cost for developing Duke of Mount Deer Online stands roughly at USD 71.9 million now! Adding in various other miscellaneous cost factors, the total amount could rise up till USD 80 million. Some costs not added include the massive amount poured into marketing the game. An example includes the upcoming movie based on the game, Dreaming of Duke of Mount Deer where one of China’s biggest period actor, Hu Ge, is roped in to helm the titular character, Wei Xiaobao aka Duke of Mount Deer.
It does not end here! There are also several partnerships with various companies involve, in this instance Hewlett-Packard (HP). The official Duke of Mount Deer themed laptops were just revealed recently, with even more licensed merchandise bound once the game starts officially.
I am actually stunned at the development costs of the game! While the English version is imminent (the teaser website seems down at the moment), the Chinese server has gone into Public Closed Beta (with no more data wipe) recently after prior to a 2 months testing period. You can read up more about the game in my previous posts. Once again, a short preview will be shown tomorrow (if I manage to upload all the footage to YouTube), so stay tuned!