It may not be something you think of too often, but making a game can be a pretty pricey endeavor. The bigger the project, the more resources are put into a game’s development. That often ends up costing developers millions of dollars. With so much being spent on making these titles, you can start to understand just how much pressure there is to make a product that’s going to sell.
These upcoming AAA titles are some of the most expensive games ever made. You’ll no doubt recognize most of the names on this list. Between marketing and development costs, these games cost a pretty penny to put out. Here are the 10 most expensive games ever made, ranked.
10 APB: All Points Bulletin - $100 Million
Realtime Worlds’ APB: All Points Bulletin shares this spot with four other games; Tomb Raider, Disney Infinity, Deadpool and Battlefield 4. All five of these games cost around $100 million to put out between development and marketing costs.
Most of them ended up doing pretty well, both critically and financially. APB & Deadpool are the only real failures of the bunch. It’s crazy to think that despite putting so much in on a game, it can still burn out hard.
9 Grand Theft Auto IV - $100 Million +
One thing you’ll notice pretty quickly is that Rockstar has quite the strong presence on this list. The team doesn’t mess around, with most of their modern games costing them a pretty penny in development.
GTA IV was estimated to have cost in the range of $100 plus million when it came out, making it one of the most expensive games ever made at the time. It still ranks pretty high up on the list despite having been released over a decade ago.
8 Max Payne 3 - $105 Million
Yet another Rockstar game, Max Payne 3 was released four years after GTA IV and ended up costing them about the same amount to make. Released nearly ten years after the last game, Max Payne 3 was highly anticipated but didn’t sell as well as you’d think.
Though the series has a loyal following, the numbers weren’t what you’d expect from a Rockstar product. That had to have been a tough pill to swallow given the ridiculous development costs of the game.
7 Shadow of the Tomb Raider - $110 Million
Though not as well received as its predecessor, Shadow of the Tomb Raider outdid the 2013 reboot in at least one regard; cost. While Tomb Raider only cost around $100 million to get out, the 2018 sequel ended up with a slightly larger figure.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another game that got off to a slow start in regards to its sales. With over 4 million units moved, it makes the difficulty developers face when covering development costs all the more clear.
6 Dead Space 2 - $120 Million
Tied for fifth place on our ranking is Dead Space 2. Developed by the now-defunct Visceral Games in 2011 as a follow-up to 2008’s Dead Space, Dead Space 2 was well received by both critics and fans. The game offered a fresh new take on the survival horror genre and cost around $60 million to develop.
Though it sold millions, the game still failed to meet sales expectations. At least to EA’s standards. Developer Zach Wilson lamented the game’s marketing costs and didn’t seem too pleased with how the game’s budget was handled. Regardless, Dead Space 2 still holds up as a fun and well-made game.
5 Halo 2 - $120 Million
Consider that Halo 2 came out seven years before Dead Space 2 and still carried a similar total cost of development. That’s insane. With inflation, Halo 2 actually ends up being the more expensively developed game of the two.
Halo 2 left behind a pretty big legacy, especially in regards to console online matchmaking. Fans will say that it’s still the best game in the series, and it’s hard to disagree with them there.
4 Destiny - $140 Million
Speaking of Halo, this next Bungie title garnered quite a few comparisons to its spiritual predecessor when it came out back in 2014. Destiny received fairly positive reviews when it came out and intrigued many with its shared world multiplayer.
Back around the time of the game’s release, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick claimed that the publisher would be putting in $500 million towards the game. The actual amount of money that went into Destiny was much smaller, but still a huge total sum regardless.
3 Star Wars: The Old Republic - $200 Million
As soon as it was first announced in 2008, Bioware’s The Old Republic seemed like an ambitious title. The game promised so many features and so much exploration and choice that you would expect it to cost a pretty penny to develop.
There are no marketing cost estimates for this game, meaning that the bulk of this $200 million went into development. For such a massive project, that isn’t too hard of a pill to swallow.
2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - $250 Million
Still one of the most popular games in the Call of Duty series, Modern Warfare 2 was a critical and financial success for Infinity Ward and Activision. It didn’t come cheap though, and it’s no surprise to find it so high on this list.
What’s pretty irregular about Modern Warfare 2’s development costs is that most of the $250 million didn’t even go towards development, but rather marketing for the game. While development took up around $40-50 million, marketing cost a whopping $200 million. The game itself didn’t even cost all that much to make.
1 Grand Theft Auto V - $265 Million
One of the biggest releases of this decade, it’s no surprise seeing GTA V where it is on this list. Rockstar’s money-maker franchise certainly brings in a lot of cash for the developer. But anyone who’s played GTA V will agree that it isn’t a half-hearted effort.
There are plenty of resources that go into making a game as big and ambitious as GTA V what it is. With millions being put into both the game’s development and marketing, fan expected – and got – a real quality product.