Getting to Know Porting


Porting Image

Who wouldn’t want their game to be available on as many platforms as possible? Why don’t devs just do it? Well…… it’s complicated and is difficult (requiring a lot of work and know-how) to be able to hit the release of multiple platforms, especially simultaneously. This also, can cost quite a bit of money depending on the game. It’s unfortunately not as easy as clicking to build a new platform in Unity! This isn’t an exhaustive list, but ports can take weeks, months, and sometimes years to get right in order to bring it from PC (or another platform) onto your target platform. This is because usually a lot of things need to be added, changed, and iterated on, but most ports consist of these basic steps:

Porting Image

💲 What about cost?

📝 How do I budget for this? (That’s one of the most common questions we get)

💳 How do I pay for this?

There’s a few different ways porting might be paid for, regardless of if you’re using a publisher or not. This can be through a royalty percentage of sales, out of pocket payments (monthly etc), or a combination of these and more. the royalty rate can vary a lot, so I’m going to be touching more on the out of pocket cost portion.

The first and most important thing: know what porting will cover. Is it just programming? QA? Release Management (submissions etc)? Tech Art? This is the first step in knowing what the costs are/might be.

At Plastic Fern Studios, we offer all encompassing services to handle whatever is needed to port a game, including everything mentioned above. We’re also used to working with different teams with different capabilities and can easily help “fill holes” in the development process instead (or, just consult if you’re doing it yourself!) Another thing to keep in mind is that porting requires specific hardware to develop for certain platforms. This cost is usually taken into account when getting a quote from someone but might be a “hidden” cost if you attempt to do it yourself.

Porting Information

Example time! Let’s say you have a game where all this work takes exactly 3 months for a few people. Usually you’ll have a programmer or two, a production-y kind of person for handling release management and other things and possibly even a small QA team as a part of this. Now, how much does this even cost? It varies, but below are some general ideas of cost to get you started on a budget.

Cost Information

These are estimated costs based on the above example project and could vary.

So based on the above, we’re going to do some real quick math:

Anyways, this brings you to a total of $35,000 - $98,000 to bring this made-up game to your platform in this completely made-up example. This doesn’t count any time you might need to take to help these teams do their job (provide guidance, images, or docs etc), any additional tech art or optimization support, or the time to research and make important decisions about things. This also does not include any costs for marketing, localizing, or other things you should be doing to release a game. It’s very hard to determine needs just from the game alone and the costs can be quite a bit more than you expect so it’s helpful to work together with someone to figure out what your title’s needs are and what it’ll take to accomplish your goals.

Are these the same for every game? Nope! One of our main goals at Plastic Fern Studios is actually to help teams figure out what their budgets are and how we could best use that budget to complete their goals. It also depends WILDLY on the game, since an online multiplayer game would need more things than a single player one, and some games require a lot more help than others even if they are both “basically” the same game.

Porting Cost Factors

But why can’t you just tell us how much my game costs to port?

The answer is because every game is different, and we take time during each quote to look at source code and ask a lot of questions to determine how much time and cost something might be. Some contributing factors include:

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