Major Publishers Report AAA Games Can Cost Over a Billion to Make

A report released alongside the CMA's decision to block the Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition reveals the demanding costs behind modern AAA game development, which can surpass $1 billion per game.

isarai156d ago

Correction, marketing can cost over a billion. I get that AAA development is very expensive but the narrative they push is BS and only used to try to justify their greed like microtransactions and shipping unfinished games. The VAST majority of the budget is used in marketing, it's not even comparable. They act as if tool sets haven't advanced in 20yrs to make things far more accessible and streamlined. And I bet they are inflating that number with things like the cost of R&D who's production covers all games coming out of the studio.

frostypants155d ago (Edited 155d ago )

Exactly. The actual programmers and artists sure as hell aren't getting that much. Too much is spent on marketing to push otherwise mediocre games. Maybe actually DO spend that money on development and see what happens...maybe they won't need to spend so much effort on convincing the public to swallow a turd.

wiz7191155d ago

The average gamer developer can make between $64K all the up to $127k , the depends on a few factors though .. then AAA studios have thousands of employees , seems like a lot of money to me. Then that’s yearly , games these days takes a few years to complete.


Let’s do that math at the minimal level .. let’s say all developers are making the minimal $64K times that by 1,000 then times that by 2 (for 2 years) that’s $128M on developers salaries alone on a small scale. The $1B wouldn’t seem to far fetched.

isarai155d ago


All employees are not all active during development. You don't need prop modelers and texture artists when you're just prototyping, you don't need writers when you polishing, etc etc. At certain stages, certain departments are rarely needed so they work on other projects in the mean time

Strange99155d ago

Ever seen the credits on a triple A game? Even if they got paid minimum wage, 10 of those 1000 people would cost (10x $30k = 300k). Add in people making 6 figures and a few making millions and… yea, even without marketing your in the half billion territory.

wiz7191154d ago

@Isarai even if their not working on one particular project and the team is split working on two different they still have to get paid regardless ..

sinspirit154d ago


Not true at all.

Most AAA games don't even break 100 million in dev costs. The biggest AAA games might reach 150 million. Most AAA games still go closer towards the 80 million numbers.

.. and the major factor is full time employee costs per project. *Certain* games might have like 1,000 devs credited but only a few hundred were employed year round for a couple years. Most were only contracted work for a few weeks time and probably while working on multiple developer projects depending on the kind of job. You also don't need to compare the mega AAA studios to make a point. AAA has a start and it's not in the hundreds of millions, let alone a billion or higher. Insane marketing tactics is always what ends up making AAA game costs seem insane. And, certain game companies known for bad studio management and money wasting have openly advertised how exlensive their games are to make when they heavily spent more than the game dev costs on marketing alone when the game itself was not so good.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 154d ago
neutralgamer1992155d ago (Edited 155d ago )

Agreed 75-100 million for the actual development and whatever else they spend on marketing. Publishers tend to combine both costs into one

GTA5 cost R* total of $250 million for developing and marketing at the time(I am sure they have spent more on marketing since then launching the game for newer consoles and GTA Online)

Sequels are cheaper to make especially yearly releases. COD use to hire celebrities to advertise so I am sure that was costing them

XiNatsuDragnel156d ago

Billion in marketing not in actual creation. Because if we had the latter omfg the quantity and care these will have would be amazing.

Geoff900155d ago

If you had the latter, it'd make no difference to quality, the cost of something doesn't mean it's going to be better.

Currently, the main reason games are costing more in the first place is they are trying to release games within 2-3 years, the teams are much bigger to fulfil that quota.

Outside_ofthe_Box156d ago

I have a wonderful idea. Let's give away first party games that cost a billion each to make, all away for a low monthly fee upon release!

esherwood155d ago

If it makes sense to them I’m good with it

IamTylerDurden1156d ago (Edited 156d ago )

What single game reached a bil in pure development? Even MMOs i find hard to believe. Ludicrous. Like these Destiny/Halo half a bil myths and that's HALF.

If ANY game actually hit even half a bil then they messed up. Unless it's laying a huge long term infrastructure and developing tech.

senorfartcushion155d ago

Destiny’s development was $500 million for ten years worth of games including dlc.

They’re just lying,

Now the issue here is that the mainstream games media sites are going to report this as fact and the conversation will be viewed this way only for the next decade, or at least until another company says it’s $2 billion or $3 billion.

If games cost that much to make then the execs behind the games wouldn’t be having such hefty paydays.

Crows90155d ago

And the media wants to push the narrative that $70 games make sense.

senorfartcushion155d ago


Games have increased in price multiple times over the last few years but the argument was that they were and leading this argument were magazine sites and influencers who all… get their games for free.

Hofstaderman155d ago

I think we need to scale back. I get it that the industry has grown to be bigger than movies but if it’s not reigned in it will collapse in on itself. Back when gaming was more niche and when we had simpler architecture consoles developers were free to experiment and we got such a wide variety of highly rated games some of which even hold up today . Development time was quicker, gameplay was there and costs even for that period was bearable. And no please don’t say that this is the current Indie market, the big companies were pushing out belters in the 90s and early 2000s. Truly the golden age. These days because development is so bloated and expensive games have to sell tens of millions to break even and everybody is expecting cutting edge graphics driving development costs up. The model is unsustainable and something has to give. Perhaps Moores Law of diminishing returns may act as a buffer.

Einhander1971155d ago

Totally agree!! The way things are going the industry could crash. Some are just to stupid to see it.