A mobile application with Unity. The process and the cost.
Management, Technology25 July 2019
Nowadays, many business owners are looking for a possibility to develop a mobile application with Unity. It’s caused by the growth of the business leads and constant search of new ways for improvement. So if you want to hire Unity developers and know more about mobile application cost, this article will shed some light on specifics of a mobile application with the Unity development process.
Why Unity technology
First of all, let’s talk about Unity.
Wikipedia defines it so: “Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies, first announced and released on June 2005 at Apple Inc.” But what stands behind those words is a union of the following features:
- putting together graphics, sounds, animations in Unity’s IDE;
- writing in the editor the code associated with the assets;
- and then generating a playable application that runs in several different environments.
We use it to develop video games for web plugins, desktop platforms, consoles, and mobile devices. Also, it’s a popular tool for AR/VR development.
There are lots of pros of building a mobile application with Unity. The main ones are:
- It’s a good all-around engine to deal with almost anyone’s needs.
- It can be a platform for prototyping games.
- Unity allows to reuse code and assets from other projects and to edit them easily.
- It contains a huge library of resources available to everyone.
- It offers a robust set of cloud-based tools to easily monetize your game.
- Unity provides access to a coinvent set of tools for creating dynamic games in one place: Unity Analytics, Unity Ads, Unity Collaborate, and Unity Multiplayer.
- It helps to build complex worlds in Unity 3D by assembling many components that are made up of their own components.
Seems like Unity is a great tool. However, to develop a mobile application with Unity you need to know about its cons as well. The main ones are:
- Being a cross-platform it’s clunkier than engines with more focus.
- 2D games development in Unity can be more painful than using Godot or GameMaker.
- Unreal’s rendering and lighting systems are more capable than Unity’s.
- Some important features (like access to the source code) are blocked in the free version.
- Unity 3D creates rather large projects. Even a blank project will often be larger than some games.
- Unity’s licensing system can be confusing.
However, in spite of these cons, Unity still stays one of the most popular platforms for application development.
The process of Unity mobile application development
The process of a mobile application with Unity development includes several main stages:
1. Planning. At this stage, you contact possible vendors to discuss your idea. You provide them with URD for vendor’s evaluation. The final step here is a contract sign up.
2. Analysis. Usually, it starts with Field Research and Competitive Analysis. This leads to identifying Metrics & Benchmarks. After that UX designers conduct interviews with direct users and make observations. The result of this analysis is personas identification.
3. Design. All starts from UX design here. It includes User Stories & Story Maps, Customer Scenarios, Information Architecture. The final product provided to the customer at this step is designed deliverables: sketches, wireframes, and prototypes. After usability evaluation during user testing of the prototype, UI designers check the deliverables. However, UX and UI designs can be combined at the final prototypes.
4. Development. Once the developer completes the design stage, the project goes to the development stage. Here, an actual mobile app is developed in the required platforms with a smooth technical finish. The mobile app development process consists of multiple phases, as follows:
- The Alpha Phase is the phase wherein just the core functionality of the app is developed, but it isn’t tested. At this stage, the app can barely function. It contains a lot of bugs and glitches which require a further fix.
- The Beta Phase includes all main features and functions of the app. It’s a must to go through a round of light app testing at this phase. Even though most of the Alpha Phase bugs are fixed, a few remain. However, after this stage, the app can be selectively released and tested with a few external users.
- The Release Phase is the final phase. After several rounds of testing and after every bug has been identified and fixed, the app can be finally released to the audience.
5. Testing. No matter how seamless your mobile application appears to you, you can never have enough rounds of testing to ensure that it is fail-proof and ready for any user. Application testing must be done early in the app development process. Otherwise, it becomes more expensive to fix glitches later once you’re in too deep with the development. Ensure that you test out every feature and function in every phase. And never forget: something that worked in the alpha phase may not work just as well in the release phase. Also, it’s important that you keep referring to the original planning documents for different cases.
6. Launch. Should we say that this is the most important step of all the mobile app development process? If you don’t succeed at this stage, then all the time, energy, and money that you invested in your app to get it designed, developed, and tested, will be wasted.
A mobile application development cost
There are 3 project types depending on the payment system:
- Fixed price. This payment system is good when all the requirements for the project are identified and fixed in the contract. A vendor is responsible for the management and budget changes. This system is not the best for a customer, because the cost of the contract can be too high.
- Time and Material. It’s good for short-term works. The vendor handles project management. However, you can change your requirements at any time for sure. What is good for you is that the team members work for your project on a part-time basis. This means you have to pay for the time a specialist was working on your project. So you pay only for the exact scope of work done.
- Dedicated team/ Monthly rates. This type is good for those customers, who look for long term work with vendors. You rent a team of specialists gathered for exactly your project. You get full control over the process. This system also works in case you don’t know all the requirements for the project, so you can change them at any time. The main cons of this payment type are the fact you pay to the team even if they don’t have work at the moment.
So the last system is the most flexible and profitable for a customer.
Now you know the process of the development and payment specifics. But, to hire Unity developers for a mobile application with Unity, you need to understand that there are lots of factors that affect the cost.
For example, to hire Unity developers in the USA, you will have to pay:
- $73 000+ yr for Game Designer.
- $92 000+ yr for Programmer.
- $75 000+ yr for Art and Animation.
- $68 000 yr for Audio.
- $49 000 yr for Quality Assurance.
And that’s not counting managers in the team.
Our experience in development with Unity
To show you how much a mobile application cost can be, let’s discuss an example we had in our company.
We got a project to create an Android application based on its iOS version. A customer wanted to develop a mobile application with Unity. The app collects data about the emotional state of people after a win and a loss. It included 2 small games and several questionnaires. The client plans to add other games in the future as well. All the design was provided by the customer.
To develop a mobile application with Unity for this project we created a team, which consisted of:
- 1 Unity developer.
- 1 Team Lead for monitoring.
- 1 Backend PHP developer.
- 1 Designer.
- 1 Tester.
- 1 Project coordinator.
It took five months to complete the development process.
As for the price, it varies:
- For Unity — $30 000 – $40 000.
- For Backend PHP — $2 870 – $4 000.
- For Design — $1 000 – $3 000.
- For Testing — $3 000 – $5 000.
So approximate mobile application cost of such type will be at a price of $35 000 – $60 000 in total.
To hire Unity developers, make sure to have a list of requirements for your app first. This will help to get more exact mobile application cost from the vendor you chose and avoid unpredicted charges.