Video games are quickly approaching Hollywood movies in terms of budget size, and often surpass then altogether. In the early 90s, video game budgets were around $100,000 — when Doom was released in 1993 it had cost $200,000 and was touted as one of the most expensive games at the time. Today, that barely covers one month worth of production. Here are the top 10 most expensive video game budgets ever:
10. Killzone 2: $45 million
One of the most anticipated PS3 titles, and one which has been in development for over four years, Killzone 2’s budget was originally $20 million. Then it was upped to $30 million. As development was extended by another full year, the budget went north of $40 million, and most estimates put it at $45 million. Higher estimates put it at over 41 million Euro, which translates to $56 million USD — but this number has never been confirmed by anyone at developer Guerrilla.
9. Final Fantasy XII: $48 million
The Final Fantasy games have been known for their outstanding quality, length and sheer production value. They’ve also been known as some of the most expensive games to have ever come out from Japan, and Final Fantasy XII had a budget of a whopping $48 million, excluding any marketing costs. The sequel, Final Fantasy XIII is rumored to have had at least a 50% higher budget, however, this hasn’t been made official (yet).
8. LA Noire: $50 million
La Noire was recently cited as “one of the most expensive games in development today”, by Tom Crago, the president of Game Developers’ Association of Australia. While this might have been exaggerated in order to shine some spotlight on Australia’s game developers (LA Noire is developed in Australia), it’s no secret that Rockstar has given LA Noire a massive budget, upwards of $50 million, to create a truly cinematic video game, where most of 1940s Los Angeles has been recreated and is fully explorable.
7. APB, $50 million
APB has been in development close to 5 years now, and Realtime Worlds have often stated that it’s the most expensive game they’ve ever worked on — Realtime Worlds founder Dave Jones had to raise Venture Capital, $50 million of it, to make sure that APB has enough money to sustain further development. The official budget is exactly $50 million, but Realtime Worlds is set to spend millions each year supporting and expanding the MMO.
6. Halo 3, $55 million
The Halo franchise has been so successful for Bungie and Microsoft that they virtually had an unlimited budget on Halo 3, as it had to be the best and most impressive game in almost all aspects when it was released. It pretty much was, at a price of $55 million, which excludes over $200 million Microsoft spent promoting the game.
5. Metal Gear Solid 4, $60 million
The biggest, pretties and most complex Metal Gear Solid game, one with hours and hours of cut scenes, amazing production values and one of the best visuals at its time, Metal Gear Solid 4 took 4 full years to make, at a price tag of $60 million, shared between Kojima Producitons and Sony .
4. Too Human, $60+ million
Sometimes, game budgets, just like movie budgets, tend to go over board and the final product ends up costing a lot more than originally planned. Too Human faced many issues during its development time, chief of which was the long and expensive struggle between Epic games and the Unreal Engine 3, where developer Silicon Knights abandoned the engine and started making their own — at a time when the game was almost complete. This added at least another $10 million to the budget, according to some sources.
3. Shenmue, $70 million
A game which held the record as most expensive game for nearly 10 years, Shenmue’s budget was unheard of at the time of it’s development — a $70 million budget for a SEGA dreamcast game. Shenmue offered a vast and explorable area, a complete weather system, and so many fine details and features that games even today don’t have. However, many failed to notice everything the game had to offer, and the game ultimately disappointed in sales.
2. Gran Turismo 5: $80 million
What’s set to become the biggest and greatest racing game in history, Gran Turismo has been in development for over 5 years now, and features over 1,000 cars, each painstakingly recreated for with extreme realism (and perfection) in mind. Its official budget as of mid 2008 was $60 million, and two years later when the game hits the stores, it will reach a staggering $80 million, making it the second most expensive game in history.
1. Grand Theft Auto 4: $100 million
When it comes to sheer production values, sheer amount of features, the details, no game beats Grand Theft Auto 4. The scope of the production dwarfs any other game: over 1,000 people worked on the game for over 3 and a half years, doing everything from studying New York city with cameras that recorded city traffic for months, to contacting over 2,000 people just to obtain the rights to the hundreds of music tracks that can be listened to in the game. Price to record a master for each track ran at around $10,000 and that excludes the license and royalty fees. There’s enough content in the game to keep the average gamer immersed for at least 100 hours. There should be, with a budget of $100 million, GTA 4 is the most expensive video game ever made.