Developing on a budget

The average blockbuster video game from a major publisher costs about $30 million to make — similar to a mid-range Hollywood movie. The "Call of Duty" series invests about $60 million in each new installment, while some reports peg the development costs of "Halo 4" somewhere north of $100 million. As impressive as these games may be, a ton of money is not a requirement to make a wildly popular title, as these games prove.

World of Goo

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <br><br> <b>Estimated Budget:</b> $10,000 <br><br> Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel, two former <a href=">Electronic Arts</a> employees, dipped into their personal savings to fund "World of Goo," an unusual physics-based puzzle game initially for Windows and Wii. "World of Goo" is a simple game: construct a path from the beginning to the end of a level using balls of sticky goo. With cartoonish graphics and only a handful of in-game actions available to players, Gabler and Carmel could focus on making each moment of the game engaging. It paid off: the game is now available on OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry and has topped the charts across multiple platforms.

Dust: An Elysian Tail

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <br><br> <b>Estimated Budget:</b> $40,000 <br><br> The fewer people who work on a game, the fewer people you have to pay. Indie developer Dean Dodrill learned this lesson well. In order to keep down development costs, Dodrill did most of the legwork himself for "Dust: An Elysian Tail." He wrote, programmed and animated the game with very little outside help and recruited a cast of amateur voice actors. Although the side-scrolling homage to "Super Metroid" and "Castlevania" is occasionally rough around the edges, its featured place in 2012's <a href="">Xbox</a> Live Summer of Arcade speaks for itself.


<iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <br><br> <b>Estimated Budget:</b> $200,000 <br><br> Although indie games had seen some success on the PC, "Braid" was one of the first to achieve mainstream success on a <a href="">console</a>. While $200,000 is by no means a small investment — especially since creator Jonathan Blow provided most of the money himself — it's chump change compared to what the game ended up earning. An homage to classic side-scrollers (especially "Super Mario Bros."), "Braid" combines precise platform-jumping with the ability to speed up, slow down and rewind time. Initially available only on the Xbox 360, the game made its way to the PC and the PS3 as well, and critical acclaim has followed it to each console.


<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <br><br> <b>Estimated Budget:</b> $265,000 <br><br> Just about every PC gamer who grew up during the 90s has played some version of "Myst," even though comparatively few have finished it. The game first appeared in 1993 from the minds of Rand and Robyn Miller, two brothers who espoused the then-controversial idea that CD-ROMs were the future of gaming. Combining rich 3D graphics with tricky logic puzzles, "Myst" has both delighted and frustrated two generations of gamers. In terms of sales, it took until 2002 for "The Sims" (released in 2000) to unseat "Myst" as the best-selling PC game of all time. [See also: <a href="">The Most Influential Video Games of the Last 50 Years</a>]


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <br><br> <b>Estimated Budget:</b> A lot of time <br><br> One of the biggest success stories in modern gaming came from almost no budget at all. Markus "Notch" Persson quit his day job to work on "Minecraft" full time in 2009. With no investors, no set release date and no team, "<a href="">Minecraft</a>" began as a very pure experience: just a creator, his computer and countless hours spent turning thousands of lines of Java into one of the most popular games of all time. "Minecraft," which challenges players to gather resources, build structures and defend themselves against undead "creepers," has made Notch into a millionaire.

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Check out these other gaming stories: <br><br> <a href="">10 Great Games You're Missing</a> <br><br> <a href="">Set Your Phasers to ‘Stun’ for ‘Star Trek’</a> <br><br> <a href="">2013 Best Video Game Console Comparisons and Review</a> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Follow Marshall Honorof&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>@marshallhonorof</em></a><em>. Follow us&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>@TechNewsDaily</em></a><em>, on&nbsp;</em><em><a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a>&nbsp;or on&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p>

5 Hit Games Made on a Shoestring