What Is the Development Cycle for an Online Game?


As with anything else in the business world, online game development is also a process with many pre-defined stages. No company goes into production without first doing their due diligence and making sure that embarking on this endeavor will be a cost-effective and profitable venture. It requires the use of expensive resources, so nothing happens without adequate planning first.

If you rush a game to completion, the end-product will likely be a lackluster one. Following an initial set of negative reviews, your project will be dead in the water. The same applies to titles in the interactive gaming space, where online slot reviews can make-or-break a reel-spinners money-earning potential.

So, gaming developers seek to streamline their products via a four-phase process.

Concept Development

Before creating anything, you first must have a direction on what you wish to accomplish with your creation. Conceiving your project involves evaluating its market viability before you even assemble your team. Before settling on an idea that is the fruit of your or an assembly of creative minds, you must figure out its commercial potential. Meaning, are there specific audiences that gravitate towards titles in your chosen genre and games that utilize the same or similar themes. If you find out that this is the case and know how your product can generate money, you can move into concept polishing.

Now that you have a general direction and know your target audience, you can flesh out specific aspects of your game. The visual approach that best suits your title. Do 2D or 3D games appeal to your targeted players? Do they prefer action or puzzle-solving? Is a complicated storyline needed? You can conduct focus group research and surveys to discover these things. After you do, you can create concept artwork and pitch your idea to investors to gather more funds before moving into pre-production.


Once you enter the pre-production phase, you should already have a decently-sized team assembled, ready to go to work. Before it does, everyone must get a role assigned and a chart explaining the team’s hierarchy. When all this becomes clear, you will begin filling your game data document. It will contain information regarding things like UI design, character features, level design, music, graphics, game progression, necessary tools, and more. You work all these out with conversations with team leads before anyone lifts a finger creating any of them. Everyone must meet and coordinate with everyone else. Engineers, artists, developers, writers, and project leads have to be on the same page before production begins.

During this stage, a schedule gets formed that predicts the pace with which development will unravel, including an estimated timeframe for launch. A budget also gets formulated for production and marketing expenses.


Production is the most time-consuming and resource-heavy phase of development. It is the stage where people work on all the facets of your gaming products. Character models get designed/rendered, actors read stacks of scripts, developers write code, and department leads establish milestones and sprint schedules. The latter’s job is to ensure each department is accountable and on time.

Once everything comes together into a playable product, the game must pass a testing stage. There, quality control specialists play it, jotting down all its bugs, making sure everything flows as conceived. These testers may divide into two groups. The first are those that evaluate its fun factor, while the others are on the lookout for technical issues. Developers often send out beta versions to gamers, who do this work for free. Quality assurance is an essential part of the process, as it makes sure that the game is functional and ready for customer use.

Marketing and Launch

Once you have a product that is ready for market, you have to hype it before releasing it into the wild. Gamers need to know what to expect and stand at the ready to search out your title when it hits the internet. You can do so by putting together a teaser trailer featuring it on your site and social media platforms. You can also announce your product at gaming conventions and send out press-releases to top industry websites.

In the past few years, companies have even turned to partner with social media influencers for their advertising campaigns. For a fee, these quasi-celebrities post images or videos of them playing a game on their social media profiles as a way of generating game awareness. Some even reach out to Twitch and YouTube streamers, providing them with an advance copy and sponsoring them to play it on their streams. By doing so, they are exposing it to their audience, who may get tempted to try it. Remember, enticing customers to play your game is as crucial as incorporating quality gameplay in it.


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