Skullgirls development team, Lab Zero Games, are adding a new character to the game’s playable roster, and they need $150,000 to fund her development. The character in question, Squigly, is about one-third complete thus far, and if the funding goal is reached, she will be released as free DLC on all platforms for a limited time. Physical rewards are being offered to contributors of a certain level as well.
$150,000 for a single character in a fighting game sounds like a lot of money, but it’s actually significantly lower than most fighting games, and even previous Skullgirls characters, according to Lab Zero. We’ll talk about that in a second. First, here’s a breakdown of the total costs that will be required to see Squigly through development:
- $48,000: Staff Salaries – 8 people for 10 weeks
- $30,000: Animation and Clean-up Contracting
- $4,000: Voice recording
- $2,000: Hit-box Contracting
- $5,000: Audio Implementation Contracting
- $20,000: QA Testing
- $10,000: 1st Party Certification
- $10,500: IndieGoGo and Payment Processing Fees
- $20,500: Manufacturing and Shipping Physical Rewards
Siliconera got in touch with Lab Zero CEO, Peter Bartholow, to ask if he had any idea how much characters for other fighting games cost to develop on average.
Costs differ depending on the developer, and whether the game is 2D or 3D, Bartholow replied, but added: “We’ve heard rumors that Street Fighter IV characters cost more than $1M each.”
He elaborated: “For comparison, though, the core Skullgirls characters cost between $200-250k to create, and we have it on pretty good authority that is actually quite cheap, especially for the amount of animation we put into our characters. Seth Killian isn’t with Capcom any more, but if you reach out to him he should confirm that $150k (especially when you consider that 2/5 of that cost is bureaucratic) is insanely cheap.”
By this, Bartholow means that 2/5 of the $150,000 goes toward simply acquiring the necessary funds and the release of the DLC itself. As the patch for Squigly will need to be tested and submitted on its own—as opposed to a bunch of characters being submitted together as part of the full game—this actually theoretically makes her more expensive to develop than the previous characters, since Lab Zero will be taking these costs on themselves.
“When you’re funded by a publisher you don’t need to allocate large amount of money for testing, submission costs, and physical reward items,” Bartholow shared. “There are no reward items, of course, and the publisher handles the testing and submission costs themselves.”
So, the average Skullgirls character costs $200-250k to develop, but Lab Zero are asking just $150,000 for Squigly, even though she should theoretically cost more to develop, since they’re taking submission costs on by themselves. Why is that? Because the development staff took voluntary pay-cuts in order to increase the chances of her release, according to Bartholow.
“The main thing we did was just take pay cuts,” Bartholow revealed. “The price was also lowered from previous characters a bit just because she was already partially completed when we were laid off. Since a lot of the other things involve contractors and our contracting rates are already on the low side, it wasn’t really possible to get those any lower.”
Without the additional expenses, Squigly’s development costs could have been lowered even further, down to $90,000, according to Bartholow, who came up with the budget for the character himself. The additional $60,000 comes from QA testing, submission, contributor payment processing fees, and manufacturing physical rewards—the last four items on the budget breakdown provided above.
Should the Skullgirls community go above and beyond the $150,000 in contributions, and reach $375,000, Lab Zero games will create another character for the game—Big Band, who would be Skullgirls’ first male character. The budget for Big Band is $200,000—higher than Squigly’s $150,000.
“That includes all of those unavoidable bureaucratic costs,” Bartholow explained to Siliconera. “IndieGoGo/Paypal’s take would be more because it’s a percentage, and we’d need to give away more goods to make that happen, too. But the main increase is that we expect him to take 4-6 weeks longer to develop because no work has been completed on him at all.”
You can keep track of and contribute toward the campaign to fund Squigly and Big Band’s development on the IndieGogo Skullgirls page.