Back in the Eighties when Sinclair and Commodore ruled the home- computer market, games were often written by enthusiasts in their bedrooms. Today, mobile phones have more memory than these early machines, while the current crop of PCs and consoles run games which are so fast and complicated they need teams of developers. The production of the larger titles is comparable to making a feature film: they can take two years to make, employ over 100 people and cost in excess of pounds 2m. According to Jeremy Wells, from computer games trade magazine CTW, "As the technology has become more sophisticated, it has become more specialised, so slowing production down." When a game is near completion it has to be tested on 100 or so different PCs, and play-tested by dozens of people trying to "break" the game. A finished product will then have a marketing spend of up to 15 per cent of the game's expected revenue. This is how much it would cost you to complete an 18-month-long cutting-edge computer game project:

Booting up Office equipment, pounds 20,000; computers (development), pounds 30,000; servers, pounds 5,000; network, pounds 5,000; software, pounds 16,000; console development kit, pounds 25,000; CD cutter, pounds 10,000; printer, pounds 1,500; security, pounds 3,000; legal and accounts, pounds 22,000; recruitment pounds 15,000; office running costs pounds 105,750

Paying the players Four programmers, pounds 195,000; director/designer/producer, pounds 60,000; four artists, pounds 180,000; animator, pounds 45,000; 2-D artist, pounds 30,000; musician, pounds 30,000; reception, pounds 18,000

On the make PC CD-Rom duplication and packaging (40,000 units), pounds 56,000; console cartridge manufacture (70,000 units), pounds 490,000

Downloading it TV advertising, pounds 350,000; outdoor advertising, pounds 400,000; in-store promotions and merchandising, pounds 150,000; specialist press advertising, pounds 35,000; lifestyle press/newspaper advertising, pounds 50,000; Internet advertising, pounds 20,000; PR agency (one year), pounds 50,000; creative/development work, pounds 60,000

Total pounds 2,477,250

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