AAA games can reportedly cost over a billion to make in 2023

As gamer expectations climb higher, publishers are taking the brunt of the financial hit as the costs become steeper by the year.

It's been said that Rockstar Games has sunk in billions in the development of GTA 6.

The controversial decision of the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard deal appears to have revealed more than the standard fare of information.

According to the same document released about the decision, the CMA gave all of us more insight into the finances behind the world's biggest games.

The CMA revealed in its report that making AAA games today can cost more than $1 billion, which is a huge jump from a rough estimate of around $50 to 150 million just five years ago.

The CMA broke down where the money goes after the publishers green light the development of a AAA game. The same AAA title that costs more than $200 million to get the ball rolling will require as much if not more to market. An unnamed large studio reported to the CMA that major franchises can cost $660 million to develop and around $550 to market.

It's an absurd amount of money and a massive risk for all the parties involved.

Judging by the numbers that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Forspoken, and Marvel's Avengers posted, it's no wonder Square Enix felt disappointed in its investment. 

We're curious to find out how much Forspoken cost Square Enix and if it was compensated by Sony for making it exclusive to the PS5.

At the moment, the most expensive games (outside of Star Citizen, at least) are Cyberpunk 2077, which saw CD Projekt RED spend $174 million in development costs across nearly a decade. Other unofficial figures suggest Resident Evil 2 Remake, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Grand Theft Auto V all required north of a hundred million dollars each from their respective developers to make.

But, while video games are costing companies more and more, they're bringing in record-breaking revenue as well.

Just last year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 enjoyed one of the best launches in gaming history while it's believed GTA 5 has generated more than $6.4 billion in revenue for Take-Two Interactive since 2013. Also, Hogwarts Legacy made Warner Bros. Discovery nearly a billion in two weeks in February, and we're pretty sure this figure has risen since.

We're still amazed that the RE2 Remake is estimated to have cost Capcom a ton of money, at least relative to its other more recent Resident Evil entries.

Ultimately, you can't blame companies for putting profits first, even at the expense of consumers. The increasing costs of making big video games and the lengthier development times are forcing corporations to make difficult decisions. If this keeps up, we'll likely see another increase in the floor pricing of video game copies sooner rather than later.

We're hoping, if this does happen, companies can hold themselves accountable by not asking audiences to pay full price for half-assed attempts at games that need fixing immediately as soon as they hit the store shelves - we're looking at you Electronic Arts and Naughty Dog.

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Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5845

Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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