From 1982's E.T. to Present Day's Watch Dogs: How Much Does It Cost to Make a Video Game?

By on January 22, 2014, 2:12 AM

You pay $60 for many of the new games you play, but how much does a blockbuster game cost to make? Although it is a seemingly simple question, it is actually incredibly difficult to answer. Of all the opaque video game industry questions, this is perhaps the most opaque. Many in the industry don't even know the budgets of games. It is not unusual for developer working on a big-budget game to have no idea of the game's budget.

To answer the question, we've pulled a bunch of scattered data from public sources as a first attempt to get a comprehensive sense of how much money the world's biggest and most expensive games cost.

Read the complete article.

User Comments: 11

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Rasta211 said:

Wow, never knew it was this expensive. Seems to be on par with movies. I guess these games are worth $60.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Wow, never knew it was this expensive. Seems to be on par with movies. I guess these games are worth $60.

People fail to realize that digital video games are a renewable resource. The game company will never run out of product. They could charge $30 per game and still be profitable. Which will sell more: a $10 game or a $60 game?

theBest11778 theBest11778 said:

Seems just in the past few years game costs have skyrocketed. 2010 and earlier it looks like $15M would get you a great AAA title with good marketing and everything (Gears of Wars, Left 4 Deads.) I'm guessing massive media blitz for modern games are really chewing up the budgets. Considering the companies own the IP most of the time, and seem to only be making sequals, so much of the materials (textures, engine, 3D models, animations,) already exist, just need to be refined/updated, I don't see why a 4x increase in costs is necessary. It also seems like Developers are shipping games before they're complete (I.e. releases feel like Betas,) now that they can patch their games via online updates, so quality control expenses should be lower than before when a game had to launch perfect because it couldn't be fixed. Also with many people giving free support by playing Betas and giving free feedback that area should decrease drastically cost wise.

That's why I feel the COD "insert name" being plastered on everything from my Tacos at Taco Bell, every other TV commercial, and even on kid's lunchboxes is really why the prices are screaming higher and higher.

Misagt said:

I think what you are seeing hear is companies are paying way more for voice actors. Voice actors are seeing how much money is made from certain games and want a bigger slice for their skills. I'd also guess it's the insane marketing that is done for games now. I think what you'll see is more games like minecraft. Simple and fun, that we'll still have AAA games but the number will drop and companies will start to have to find their target audience and match budget and sales expectations accordingly. What makes a game company valuable isn't the sales in the first month or first year. It's making great game after great game. With every satisfied customer builds a loyal following and they will market your future games for you.

Heed4673 said:

I agree with Misagt, I think a lot of costs are going towards voice acting/marketing, and I think the other component is an increased focus on graphics. Fortunately I think with Steam developers will (hopefully) see that gameplay and originality can trump graphics, voicing, and marketing. I am constantly amazed at Square, how many times have they been able to resell their classics, over and over? If Square were to just make a sequel to FF IV, or VI using the same style of graphics but obviously updated, with the same quality story telling and similar but updated gameplay, I think it would sell like crazy and cost very little to develop. With technology available today I think devs have a great opportunity to take the kind of graphics from the 90s but cleaner with more pixels, and make some great games that don't take 6 years to make and don't cost $50 million plus. Look at games like Terraria, Minecraft, Rogue Legacy, unending remakes of the early Final Fantasys. The market is there.

Guest said:

You really need to do some research before you claim that voice actors are making budgets skyrocket. Voice actors make a pittance for being the true stars of games.

treetops treetops said:

Without factoring in inflation and how many more people buy videos games then they did in the past its kind of hard to grasp the differences

JC713 JC713 said:

Now those are some nice images.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

68 million bucks for Watch Dogs, FTW O.O

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