How Long Does it Take to Make a Video Game?

While we're all still eager for GTA VI to come out after the 10-year wait other games come together much quicker.

Rockstar is still polishing their next blockbuster, but scrappy indies and no-code creators can pump out titles fast.

We're talking game jams in under 72 hours or mini-games built in a weekend.

So how long does it really take to craft the next hit these days?

It depends.

The size of your team, the scale of the game, and of course, your development goals all go into how long it takes to make a video game.

For instance, Surgeon Simulator was created in a game jam in less than 48 hours, with the commercial version taking roughly three months .

GTA V took three years to build. And the longest game ever, Duke Nukem Forever, took a whopping 15 years to create .

This article will break down each of these factors and how long you might expect it to take for a game to be created.

How Long It Takes Triple-A Game Studios to Make Video Games

For major studios like Rockstar, Naughty Dog, and Activision, the game development process is methodical and lengthy. These studios employ hundreds of developers with various skills including programming, art, design, production, and quality assurance.

Building a triple-A game is less like indie passion projects crafted in bedrooms and more akin to producing a Hollywood blockbuster film.

Everything from character models to lighting effects to questlines goes through extensive concept, prototype, implementation, test, and polish phases.

These big-budget titles also require performance capture, music production, voice acting, and complex engine development.

With so many moving parts, triple-A games routinely take three to five years from early conception to launch day.

For example, Mass Effect 3 began development in 2012 before releasing in 2017. The Witcher 3 started in 2011 and launched in 2015 after four years.

Even annual franchises like Call of Duty are developed across a 3-year dev cycle by rotating studios.

The results are technical wonders with cinema-quality presentation — but they require massive investments of time and resources. Of course, some titles blow past even those timelines, such as Duke Nukem Forever.

How Long It Takes for Indie Developers to Make Video Games

Unlike major studios, indie developers work with smaller teams and budgets. This gives them the freedom to create at their own pace based on the scope of their vision.

Many indie games are passion projects worked on during nights and weekends, sometimes solo, like Stardew Valley, or by just a handful of people. Rather than producing a blockbuster spectacle, indie games thrive on innovative ideas and emergent gameplay.

Completion times vary based on the complexity and polish level. But shorter dev cycles of 6 months to 3 years are common for indie studios.

For example, smash hit Terraria was developed by just two people in four months (with leaks), with the completed version taking 2 years.

However, the most ambitious indie games rival triple-A timelines. Dwarf Fortress is famously still (technically) in development after 12 years — worked on almost exclusively by its creator Tarn Adams. It has generated a cult following despite the game still being incomplete.

Likewise, Minecraft took far longer to fully realize than its initial release in 2011 might suggest.

Markus Persson and his lead developer spent over 4 years adding features and expanding Minecraft before selling it to Microsoft. And the community-driven evolution continues even today.

So while indie games have more flexibility, complex genres like open-world RPGs or building sims take time even for small teams.

But without executives and shareholders to please, indie developers can shape their own timeline.

How Long It Takes to Make a Video Game Without Coding

While major studios and indie developers spend years making blockbusters, no-code game makers like Soba empower anyone to build a custom game in just days or weeks.

Without needing to code, you can turn ideas into playable experiences fast.

Soba provides drag-and-drop tools to construct detailed 3D worlds, program mechanics, and publish your games.

For example, one creator built an epic (and extremely challenging) "Floor is Lava" obstacle course game in just 24 hours using Soba on his phone .

Without code, it allows developers to quickly place platforms, obstacles, and custom effects and see the placement in real-time. Instead of coding and then playtesting, you can do both simultaneously.

Additionally, players can build several types of games including obby games , collect the coin, races, sandbox , and even custom games.

Soba even has videos on how you can make an obby game in as little as a few days to a week, depending on how detailed you want to make it!

So while some developers like to take their time, others prefer to rush their games out and get them in front of people to get feedback. Both ways work, and in the end, it’s up to your preference as the developer.

A Challenge for You: Do a Game Jam

Game jams are limited-time events where developers race to make games within tight constraints. The time pressure fuels raw creativity. Many iconic indie hits emerged from weekend-long jams, like Surgeon Simulator (48 hours) and SUPERHOT (7 days) .

These focused sprints prove how quickly ideas can go from concept to playable game. And now with Soba, anyone can tap into that rapid iteration, no coding required.

So here's a quick challenge: give yourself a weekend to make your own game jam creation using Soba.

Pick a type of game like a platformer or an obby, set a timer, and see what you can create in just 48 or 72 hours. And if you want, you can give yourself more time — just make sure you have a time constraint!

Approach your personal jam as a creative experiment. Let it re-energize your inner game developer and gain confidence in your skills.

Whether you’re an aspiring game maker or a seasoned developer, try and use the time pressure to spark some creativity.

Who knows, your weekend game jam creation could inspire your next hit. Unlock your potential by taking the challenge. Grab your phone, download Soba , and let your imagination run wild.

Get early access to Soba!


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