Code Hero: Naive Development in Action

Posted December 14, 2012

After reading about the recent blow up over Code Hero, I decided to do a bit of math and lay out why this guy vastly underestimated his costs.

“Programmers are not cheap. We were paying $4,000 – $5,000 a month for really great programmers.”

First mistake, paying programmers, I’m kidding of course… His mistake was wildly underestimating the amount of time needed and potentially overestimating the skill of his programmers. Checking out the KickStarter page I’m seeing so many hurdles and so much scope creep. It would be obvious to any experienced developer that $100,000 is a pittance compared to what this actually costs.

“4 programmers and 2 artists work for six months”

Lets go in the middle and say $4,500 to each programmer. That’s $18,000 a month for just the programmers which you may say is only $108,000 over 6 months. They only asked for $100,000 which already means they’re being dishonest. Assuming they paid the 2 artists around $2,500 a month that works out to another $30,000. Add on the Unity licensing costs and $150,000 is easy to see down the drain.

Imagine the sheer quantity of bugs when you let a user mess with the engine at run time. They also kept adding features and promising more. It’s easy to see where the time scale kept increasing. According to the article they are at alpha now, a year later, meaning it’s now at an earlier phase then they said they were at when they started. This leads me to believe they have no idea what a beta or alpha even mean.

This increased time means it would have cost them close to if not over $300,000 by now, triple the original ask. They still aren’t done either, it’s not fully tested, wait for the months that will take. This says nothing of the parties, trips, marketing, fulfillment costs for rewards, business overhead, and KickStarter’s cut. I would guess $500,000 in 1.5 – 2 years would do it especially if they had some good guidance, but I’m not a business guy, so I’m likely completely wrong.

It’s a lot of money to make dreams real.