Are you wondering if GameMaker Studio Master Collection is worth the hefty asking price? YoYo Games, the company behind the massively popular development engine, want you to think it is. Despite the allure of “free modules” and apparent “savings”, the offer is not as clear-cut as you might imagine.
The Master Collection is the most expensive version of GameMaker currently available. It includes all of the existing modules, which allow you to export projects to Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, Windows Phone, and HTML5. As new modules become available in the near future you’ll receive them for no extra cost.
The cost of the Master Collection is currently $499 USD. This is a one-time flat fee. Update: The price has now increased to $799 »
GameMaker Studio Professional costs $99 USD, but it is only able to export to Windows and Mac OS X by default. You are then given the option of purchasing each module separately at your leisure. If you bought every module in this manner, you would end up paying $1000 or more for GameMaker. Considering that scenario, the appeal of the Master Collection becomes quite apparent.
High-Priced Mystery Box
YoYo Games are attempting to lure people in with the promise of what might be. Yes, you will receive new modules when and if they are released in the future. But should you pay extra for something that doesn’t exist yet, and might not ever? If you’re hoping for a PSP module and it never arrives, would you feel cheated?
This line thinking is flawed, though, as YoYo Games will not be giving Master Collection owners free modules forever. That’s right: the free modules will be provided only up until a certain version.
Recently a GameMaker Community forum administrator suggested that owners of the Master Collection could stop receiving free modules once the engine reaches version 1.2, which could be a matter of weeks or months. Update: Version 1.2 has now been released and free modules will continue indefinitely »
Although no date has been made official for the cut-off point, it is generally believed that YoYo Games will stop providing free updates no later than version 2.0. YoYo Games CTO Russel Kay confirmed this possibility in October 2012 when he announced the free module scheme. He ambiguously wrote that the offer would be provided until version “1.x”.
This exception is not clearly detailed on the YoYo Games website. In February 2013, the terms of the offer led one user to claim he could “sue” the company. After demanding a refund on the grounds he was mislead, YoYo Games allegedly declined to comply.
Before purchasing GameMaker, you should prepare a general outline of which platforms you wish to develop for. Although GameMaker Studio offers extensive cross-platform support, it may be wise to focus on a specific group of platforms instead of all of them. For example, creating mobile applications for only Android and iOS is a popular choice. Focusing on HTML5 might be profitable. Buying the Ubuntu module and limiting yourself to desktop platforms like Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux could be another suitable route.
If you only plan to develop games for a select few platforms, buying the individual modules is often a better option.
Hidden Costs Add Up
Even if you think you’re getting a better deal by buying the Master Collection you may just be burning money on something you won’t use. With each platform comes further development costs; this is especially true for Android, iOS, and Mac OS X.
Android developers will need to pay a small sum of $25 for a “lifetime” license to sell their apps, and several hundred more to buy a device for testing. If you want to publish iOS apps, you’ll incur even higher costs. You’ll have to pay $99 annually to maintain a developer’s certificate, plus several hundred dollars for an iOS device, and you’ll need a Macintosh computer to boot.
How about the cost of Windows Phone development? What about renting a server to distribute HTML5 games? Realistically, you will be investing hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars to start a commercial endeavor with GameMaker Studio. Every additional platform you choose to support takes a bite out of your wallet.
The Final Verdict
GameMaker Studio Master Collection is best suited to hardcore hobbyists and professional developers who want, and can afford, to build games for many different platforms. If you’re limited by a budget or lack the licenses and hardware required by the various platforms, opting for GameMaker Professional and one or two modules may make more financial sense.
For the average developer, the Master Collection offers sizable savings if the desired modules equal or exceed the cost of the Master Collection in the first place. If you are being roped in by what “could be” then you need to reconsider your priorities. Likewise, before deciding if the Master Collection is a “saving” figure out if you will actually make use of the product as a whole, or if you’re letting an appealing marketing ploy blur your vision.