Chandrakant IsiMar 11, 2016 08:51:17 IST
Developing a video game is often considered more challenging than producing a Hollywood movie. Not only in terms of effort, but money as well. Sometimes, a video game's production budget enters the league of the summer blockbuster. Since video game makers don't publish exact development and marketing cost, the figures mentioned in this article are approximate. Note that we're not including inflation in these estimates.
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
GTA has been a benchmark for open world games. Just when we thought that the GTA 4 would be a tough act to follow, the guys at Rockstar games outdid themselves. With over a thousand people involved in the development, GTA 5 took almost four years to complete. The fictional city of Los Santos has been painstakingly modelled after the city of Los Angeles. Not only using Google maps data, some of the production team members actually carried out on-field research on various parts of the city. The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine was heavily modified to deliver draw distance and detail unmatched by any other open world game. It is reported that Rockstar games spent $265 million to develop and promote the title. That's more than this Bond thriller, Spectre's $250 million production costs.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Call of Duty is currently one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. We're aware of its shortcomings, but we love it for its explosive action, high-production values and engaging storyline. Very few games in the industry can match the gripping set-pieces that this franchise offer. In addition to the campaign mode, Call of Duty is also known for its engaging multiplayer. The developers greatly modified the IW 4.0 game engine to deliver impressive lighting effects, detailed maps and fluid character motion. According to a report, the total budget for the game exceeded $240 - $250 million. This figure is still higher than Spectre's production cost and bear in mind that Modern Warfare 2 is a 7 year old game and that we're not accounting for inflation.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)
You are looking at the world's most expensive massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) ever made. With over 800 people across the globe actively involved in the development for over five years, the game reportedly cost around 200 million dollars to create. Unlike Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, most of the budget was spent on development (Activision splurged their budget on marketing). The game was so vast that the story runs to 1600 hours. We're not sure how many of you have that much patience, however. It had 4000 characters that required over a thousand actors to record dialogue in three languages. Despite all this, though, the game didn't receive much love from the Star Wars fans. Probably because the story takes place 3000 years before the events shown in the movie. This means that there was no sign of popular characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker in the game and what's Star Wars without some good ol' Skywalker action, eh?
Final Fantasy VII
Here's the second Role Playing Game (RPG) title on our list. Developed by Square Enix, Final Fantasy is, again, one of the best-selling video game franchises in history. Yes, it is that Japanese franchise involving swords that are larger than the characters wielding them. But then again, isn't that true for most Japanese franchises. Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to feature 3D graphics. Before this, all the Final Fantasy games were set in a 2-dimensional world. Making such a transition without hurting the core gameplay must have been an uphill task. The game's development cost was around $45 million. Additionally, $100 million were spent on the extravagant marketing campaign mostly targeting the US.
Surprised to see Destiny at the bottom of our list? Don't be. Contrary to the popular belief, Destiny did not cost $500 million to make and promote. The much-hyped $500 million contract between Bungie and publisher Activision covers the expense for the franchise that may include up to four titles. Speaking about the Destiny's budget, Bungie's COO, Pete Parsons said that, "[it is] not anything close to $500 million. I think that speaks a lot more to the long-term investment that we're making in the future of the product". According to the leaked document published by LA Times, Destiny's development cost is pegged at around $140 million. Bungie spent another million or so on marketing. Activision also seems to have spent a few million on advertising, but we aren't considering that figure as the company hasn't shared actual numbers.
Chandrakant Isi has been covering all-things-tech for over 10 years. He is a sci-fi aficionado, wannabe space explorer, and Content Lead at MySmartPrice.com
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