In context: Everyone knows that AAA games can be massive cash cows if they're successful, but it's rare that we get first-party information about how much they cost to make. Today's leak also tells us how much revenue the Call of Duty franchise generates for Sony.
Playstation boss Jim Ryan provided the FTC with confidential data in an effort to dissuade them from allowing Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard to go through. The court recently posted the poorly-redacted documents online, allowing us to glean a lot of information about Sony's game budgets, headcounts, revenues, and more.
According to the leaked data, Guerilla Games' hit title Horizon Forbidden West cost around $212 million to develop. Additionally, development lasted a total of five years and required over 300 full-time employees.
Development costs for the critically-acclaimed The Last of Us Part II were even higher at a staggering $220 million. It also took slightly longer, at 70 months, while headcount peaked at about 200 full-time employees. Sony emphasized that marketing AAA games requires a lot of money on top of that, even in the case of established franchises.
The document also gives some insight into how much the Call of Duty franchise is worth to Sony. In 2021, the games generated over $800 million in revenue for the company in the US alone and about $1.5 billion worldwide. That figure jumps to an annual average of $15.9 billion if you add what CoD players spend on hardware, accessories, subscriptions, and other PlayStation services.
Another interesting statistic revealed by the leak is that about one million PlayStation owners play Call of Duty games exclusively on their consoles. In addition, the yet-unannounced CoD title releasing later this year will reportedly be the last game covered by a marketing deal with Activision which began in 2015 with CoD: Black Ops 3.
Lastly, we get some data about the composition of the console market. According to Sony's internal surveys, almost 50 percent of PlayStation 5 owners in the US also own a Nintendo Switch. However, less than a fifth of PS5 owners own an Xbox Series X or S.