Epic’s Tim Sweeney Confirms Robo Recall’s Funding

by Ian Hamilton • March 17th, 2017

Robo Recall is a very important game. We labelled the robot-fighting title “very good” in our review, and with its modification system and pedigree coming from one of the industry’s most influential companies (Epic Games), the game is likely to influence others as they think about VR game design.

That makes the amount it cost to make a game like this a key point of interest. Late last year we interviewed Epic CEO Tim Sweeney and talked to him about the budget for the game. He compared the amount Oculus paid to be produced exclusively for the Oculus platform to the size of the budget for the original Gears of War.

Here’s that original quote, which Sweeney confirmed today we reported accurately:

“In 2006, a world class Triple A game cost 10-20 million to produce now they’ll cost up to 100 million. It’s become so expensive and so risky that only massive publishers can really afford to put these kinds of games out…Oculus has been willing to fund third party software that’s exclusive to their hardware. That’s a perfectly acceptable way to jump start an industry…For example, Oculus is funding Robo Recall which has a budget that’s close to the budget of the entire first Gears of War game.”

We looked it up, and found the budget for Gears of War was previously reported by Wired as between $9 or $10 million.

An article from RoadToVR today attempts to zero in on the actual costs of development in that budget, quoting a team size of 15 for the project and doing some math to estimate the rough costs involved in actually producing the project with that team. Sweeney confirmed to us the team size data reported in that article is correct as well.

“UploadVR’s original article quoted me accurately,” Sweeney wrote in an email. “The Road to VR [article] accurately conveys the team size data.”

The problem, though, is that each of these are limited data points that don’t exactly paint a full picture of the deal between Oculus and Epic Games. The game, for instance, is offered for free on the Oculus store. This means Epic wouldn’t see a traditional revenue split from individual sales of the game with Oculus — something a Reddit commenter pointed out on our original article would’ve likely figured into the deal.

“There are lots of numbers involved in budgets for the various parties involved, they span many areas of which direct game development cost is one, and we can’t break them down further for reasons of Epic and partner confidentiality,” Sweeney told UploadVR. “I apologize for sharing partial details this way. In retrospect we should’ve shared team size data only, which would have avoided speculation and conflicting interpretations of the various data points.”

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