Have you thought about which are the most expensive video games ever made? It may be hard to believe but the development and marketing of a top video game can easily cost almost as much as it does to make a film nowadays (probably even more). As video games have grown in popularity so have their budgets, which now rival those of major Hollywood productions. Together, the marketing and production budgets for a game can reach more than a quarter billion dollars. Many experts predict that with the advance of technology, video game production costs will become increasingly expensive. Today we’ll focus purely on the development and marketing costs associated with video games as we proudly present the 25 Most Expensive Video Games Ever Made That You Probably Own (and if you don’t, you should). Which of these video games are your favorite?
Heavy Rain (2010)
In 2013 Quantic Dream’s Guillaume de Fondaumière revealed to a Digital Dragons audience in Poland that PlayStation 3 exclusive Heavy Rain cost only about $18 million to make—even with all those emotional polygons stuffed in. With Sony’s marketing and distribution cost added, the total for the game was something like $55.5 million, while Sony earned more than $140 million from the game’s sales. To make a long story short, the game was a success story.
Gran Turismo 5 (2010)
According to the series producer Kazunori Yamauchi’s claims, Polyphony Digital’s long-awaited PlayStation 3 racing sim Gran Turismo 5 cost Sony, its publisher, $60 million over its five-year development cycle. The game proved to be a huge commercial success, however, and as of 2013, it is currently one of the best-selling PS3 games and the best-selling PS3 exclusive with over ten million copies sold worldwide.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (2012)
On January 22, 2009, Ubisoft announced that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was in development, but the game wasn’t released until May 2012. The budget on this bad boy was right up there with Crysis 3 at about $65 million.
Crysis 3 (2013)
Crysis 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Crytek and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It was released in North America on February 19, 2013. Its development took more than two years and cost an estimated $66 million.
Halo 3 (2007)
Halo 3 is one of the most popular first-person shooter video games developed by Bungie for the Xbox 360. Halo 3 was initially conceived before Halo 2 was released in 2004. Most of the staff was preoccupied with making extra content for Halo 2, while the rest moved forward with the groundwork for Halo 3. The game’s budget was about $60 million, and 4.2 million units went into stores the day before its release, leading Halo 3 to gross more than $300 million in its first week alone.
Watch Dogs (2014)
Ubisoft Montreal began development on Watch Dogs in 2009 but the game wouldn’t be released until last November since the date kept getting pushed back because of constant polishing of the game. Finally, after five years and $68 million Watch Dogs was finally released making millions of fans happy.
Rift was in development from 2006 until its release in 2011 and underwent extensive alpha testing, with beta testing finalizing the stress-test portion of development. Trion Worlds CEO Lars Buttler stated that Rift had an initial budget of more than $50 million and judging by the game’s wild success no one regretted spending that money.
Final Fantasy XIII (2009)
When Final Fantasy VII became one of the most expensive games ever made at $45 million, no one could predict that Square would get itself back on the list of the most expensive video games ever developed over a decade later with Final Fantasy XIII, which cost more than $65 million. The game became a massive commercial success thanks to millions of hard-core fans around the world.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)
Metal Gear Solid 4 was developed thanks to fan demand despite the fact that the series creator, Hideo Kojima, had previously said the prequel, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, would be the last in the series. The budget for MGS 4 has been estimated to be between $50 million and $70 million. The game was a big commercial success selling six million copies worldwide in its first three months.
Pokémon Red/Blue (1996)
Back in the ’90s when Pokémon was really popular, Game Freak developed Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, originally released in Japan as Pocket Monsters: Red & Green, role-playing video games published by Nintendo for Game Boy. The games’ budget was about $75 million—an incredibly high cost for its time, but it paid its producers back quite handsomely. The games’ releases marked the beginning of what would become a multibillion-dollar franchise, jointly selling millions of copies worldwide. In 2009 they appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Best selling RPG on the Game Boy” and “Best selling RPG of all time.”
Defiance is an online science fiction–themed persistent world massive multiplayer third-person shooter game developed by Trion Worlds; it was one of the company’s most ambitious projects ever with a budget said to reach $80 million, pushing the cost of the overall project well north of $100 million.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-play open-world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Its development and marketing cost a total of $85 million. Over seven million copies were shipped to retailers within the first week of its release and it sold over twenty million worldwide, immediately refunding its designers.
Back during the first half of the ’90s Sega was the absolute boss when it came to video games. When Shenmue was released in 1999 it put the icing on the cake of a glorious decade nearing its end. It was the most expensive video game in terms of development for its day, with production and marketing reaching an estimated $70 million, though some of that cost went to covering Shenmue II (2001).
Tomb Raider (2013)
Following Tomb Raider: Underworld, Crystal Dynamics was split into two teams: the first was tasked to work on the next sequential pillar of the Tomb Raider franchise, while the second focused on the newly created Lara Croft series, debuting with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light in 2010. The game took nearly three years to be fully produced and its cost was estimated to be around $100 million.
Deadpool is an antihero action-comedy video game based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It was first announced at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con and was released on June 25, 2013. According to estimates the game’s development cost approximately $100 million.
Disney Infinity (2013)
Disney Infinity is a combination videogame and toy line that features characters from Disney movies and television shows. It was a high-stakes effort to right the Disney digital ship, and it hit stores in 2013. People close to the company peg the cost of making the game and toys at well over $100 million—similar to a major film production.
Too Human (2008)
Xbox’s Too Human’s budget has been estimated at between $60 million to $100 million. The game is known mostly for having remained in development limbo for almost a decade, originally planned for Sony PlayStation in 1999. In 2000 the game was being developed for Nintendo GameCube before the rights to it were sold to Microsoft in 2005 and finally landing a launch date in 2008.
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Red Dead Redemption is a Western action-adventure video game (one of the best if not the best of its kind, for that matter) developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. It was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles on May 18, 2010, and its development budget has been estimated to be anywhere from $80 million to $100 million.
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
In 2008 GTA IV producer Leslie Benzies stated that the game cost Rockstar approximately $100 million to create. In an interview with the Times online, Benzies said that more than 1,000 people worked on the project for over three and a half years. GTA IV, however, sold more than 600,000 copies on the first day in the UK alone and grossed more than $400 million worldwide in its first week of release, so everybody was happy.
Max Payne 3 (2012)
Max Payne 3 was originally scheduled for release in late 2009 but was pushed to 2010 alongside several other Take-Two Interactive video games in order to benefit from more development time. That made the game one of the most anticipated of 2010 and even though we don’t know Max Payne 3’s exact budget since Rockstar didn’t divulge those figures, analysts have estimated it at $105 million.
Even though Activision CEO Bobby Kotick stated the total cost as $500 million, Bungie’s Eric Osborne stated the budget was nowhere near that. Later estimates placed the game’s combined development and marketing budget at about $140 million.
Final Fantasy VII (1997)
Development of Final Fantasy VII began in late 1995 and required the efforts of approximately 120 artists and programmers, using PowerAnimator and Softimage 3D software. It was the most expensive video game of its time, with a budget of around $45 million and its marketing cost $100 million.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made staggering amounts of money when it was released, but it wasn’t exactly cheap to make, either. Not only did its development cost about $50 million, but its marketing and launch budget was a whopping $200 million.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)
One of the largest entertainment productions in history, Star Wars: The Old Republic needed more than 800 people on four continents to spend six years and nearly $200 million to be created. The story runs 1,600 hours, with hundreds of additional hours still being written. Nearly 1,000 actors have recorded dialogue for 4,000 characters in three languages.
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Estimates place the game’s combined development and marketing budget at more than $265 million, which would make it the most expensive game ever made. Additionally, Grand Theft Auto V broke industry sales records and became the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, earning $800 million in its first day and $1 billion in its first three days.