I had the same question when I had started to think about porting my indie game Falling Out. How much does porting cost? Can I port it myself? I had settled that I wanted to do the Switch port myself, fully knowing that the optimizations I’ve done on that platform, the other platforms would also benefit from. I’ve always loved having a restricted device and improving frame rates. This love for optimizations started back when I was working on Nokia n-gage games, followed by iOS and Android casual games.
For Falling Out, me and my publisher had decided to go with a 3rd party porting for Playstation and Xbox ports, as time was of the essence. Since I love optimizations and love learning new things, after the launch of my game, I was curious if I could do the ports for Playstation and Xbox myself even though I didn’t have access to the code done by the porting company. So first I did the re-ports of Playstation and now I’m doing the Xbox re-ports.
After this experience, I came to conclusion that I can offer a better porting service to help indies like myself get their game on more platforms, including:
– giving indies access to any porting code done, and thus the possibility of doing patches themselves, and
– if they still would like me to do the patches, it would not cost an arm and a leg!
Founder of PolyCrunch Games
What affects the cost of porting an Indie Game?
It depends on:
- Your choice between a Revenue Share model or Paying a one-time fee.
- Number of Platforms (i.e. Switch, Playstation (PS4 and PS5), Xbox (Xbox One and Xbox X/S). I support games built with Unity or GameMaker (My game Falling Out was actually made with GameMaker). So if you want it on all platforms, that’s 3 platforms (I consider PS4 + PS5 as 1 platform, and Xbox One + Xbox X/S as 1 platform)
- Size of project, features and optimizations required
Revenue Share model
We know some Indies don’t have the budget to pay for a porting service. So we can come to a revenue share model with a recoup rate. The rates depends on our free evaluation of the project but it can vary between 5% to 20% revenue share. The bigger the potential of the project, the smaller the percentage.
Until we recoup the porting service cost, which will be estimated in our free evaluation, will be 50/50. (Of course if there’s a publisher involved, they need to be informed about this).
If you don’t have a publisher, then we suggest that you still sign up for the different platforms (it’s free but sometimes a long process), and then you can invite us as collaborators, so we can help with setting up the products and doing submissions.
If you want a hands free solution where you don’t want have anything to do with the platforms, then we can be your publishers on the console platforms where we would give you quarterly updates of sales. However note that we will not be responsible for any marketing efforts.
Platforms supported for Console Porting:
- Nintendo Switch
- Playstation (PS4 and PS5 are considered as one platform)
- Xbox (Xbox One and Xbox X/S are considered as one platform
The price per platform depends on the complexity and features required by the game, including leaderboards, achievements, online capabilities, etc.
The price can vary between 2500USD and 5500USD (~2250EUR – 5000EUR) per platform. The price varies according to our free evaluation (see below)
As for patches, it depends what the patch consists of. But if it’s just fixes and small changes that don’t require optimizations, for all 3 platforms it will only cost 550USD (~500EUR).
As an example, let’s say you have a small game (subjective, I know), that you would like to publish on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Playstation 5. For us, that is actually 2 platforms (Switch and Playstation).
So that would cost $2500 * 2 = $5000 (~4500EUR)
What’s the process for the free evaluation?
In order to be able to come up with a quote we will need to evaluate your project in detail. We do a free evaluation of the project where we also do some quick performance tests on the Switch and PS4 which are the lowest performing of our supported platforms.
This is the typical flow
- We send you a Mutual NDA where we both sign it. This gives you piece of mind to share your project with us. (If you have your own MNDA template and would prefer to use yours, that’s fine with us)
- You share a snapshot of your project code
- We do a free evaluation. Typically this lasts between 1 to 2 weeks. We would let you know if we need some more time beforehand due to other responsibilities.
- We give you a detailed evaluation report where you can leave your comments and answer any questions we have. The evaluation report consists on these points
- Communication with the team – We immediately get a sense of how your team communicates with us. If we see that communication is slow, we will walk away from project.
- Project code readability – This will help us to know how much time we’ll need if we need to optimize and/or hook code to your existing project
- Current Performance – We will do a quick boot of your game on Switch and PS4 which are the lowest performing of the consoles, to get a sense of where the bottlenecks are and optimizations required.
- Game state completion – Ideally the project is near the end of its production, so that we can easily override any achievements and leaderboards you already have set up for something like Steam
- Love for project – We love working with passionate people who believe in their game. While evaluating we will get a sense of this too 🙂
- Deadline – During the evaluation we will keep the following questions in mind
- Is the deadline feasible?
- Do we have a clash with another project?
- Do we have enough time to do any required optimizations?
- Optimizations required overview – In our quick tests on Switch and PS4 we would have a rough idea of what optimizations that need to be done
- Things to fix – Any obvious fixes that have stood out in order for the game to pass certification
- If we want to still do the porting after the evaluation, a quotation of the porting service is also given. If you like the evaluation report and our price, we then give you a contract for your review, where 10% is paid on signing, 40% paid on precheck submission (see below), and the remaining 50% on acceptance by all platforms.
You might ask what increases the quote price? Mainly optimizations required and code readability.
The Porting Process
We will give you a porting kick off document, with all the graphic assets that each platform requires. We’ll also give you an achievements template so we can then set up on the various platforms (Switch does not have achievements).
While you are gathering any assets we require, we typically first start with optimizations so we get the game running smoothly at 60fps. Our first target is usually Switch. Once that is running smoothly, the other platforms will be easier. We will do more in-depth profiling to find the bottlenecks. Typically if it’s GPU bound (i.e. CPU is waiting for GPU to finish), we try to minimize draw calls as much as possible or optimize any shaders that are causing the bottleneck. If it’s CPU bound (each frame is taking more than 16ms), then we find which code is slowing the game down and discuss solutions with your team. If we’re on the same page we can do the code optimizations but sometimes the developers prefer to do it themselves since it’s their code. We also help in hunting down any garbage collection spikes. This typically happens because of objects being created and destroyed without doing any caching/pooling of objects.
Once optimization is done, we can focus on async saving, input, leaderboards and achievements.
We will share builds with the dev team, publisher and your QA team.
Submission Process, Timings and Certification
We will be taking care of uploading the builds to the platform, however the publisher (or yourself if you’re self publishing) will need to submit the builds as our role of platform collaborators will not have the rights to actually press the submit button 🙂
We like to do a test submission (what Nintendo likes to call a precheck) at least 1.5months before launch if not earlier depending on the size of the game. This doesn’t need to be a final build of the game, but should have all the systems in place. The idea is to get feedback from the platforms on the major issues that need to be fixed.
1 month before launch we can do a submission with a release candidate build. This will probably also fail certification but we should have enough time to fix any pending issues
15 days before launch we will do the final (hopefully) submission.
All this is subject to the discussion that we will have with your production manager, especially since if there is a 3rd party QA team involved.
Availability (Updated July 2023)
Here’s our availability so you can check your deadlines. We’ll do our best to keep this updated.
Legend: Red = booked, Orange = half-booked, Green = free
2023: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2024: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
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