Information about the production budgets of some of the biggest PlayStation exclusives has been accidently made public during the FTC v. Microsoft hearing. Let’s take a look at how these numbers compare to other AAA games.
The Last of Us Part II
- As part of the FTC v. Microsoft hearing, Sony provided the court with a document containing commercial information about the company’s Call of Duty revenues and production costs of some of its first-party games.
- However, these details were redacted with a black Sharpie, which made it possible to see the redactions after the scanning. So this sensitive information accidentally became public.
- It appears that Call of Duty generated $800 million in revenue for Sony in the US alone during 2021. Global revenue was around $1.5 billion.
- PlayStation’s first-party game, Horizon Forbidden West, cost $212 million to make over the course of five years. A peak headcount was around 300 developers.
- The Last of Us Part II cost $220 million took six years and 10 months to develop, with a peak headcount of 200 full-time employees.
- It is worth noting that these are development costs, excluding marketing budgets.
- Taking this information into account, PlayStation’s other first-party games of similar scope like the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 could have similar production budgets.
What are the development costs of other AAA games in the industry?
- Cyberpunk 2077‘s total budget was PLN 1.2 billion (around $316 million at the April 2021 exchange rate). According to CD Projekt president Adam Kiciński, 55% of that sum was spent on direct development costs, or around $173.8 million.
- For comparison, The Witcher 3‘s total budget (development + marketing costs) was PLN 306 million (around $82 million at the August 2015 exchange rate).
- Development cost of Battlefield 4 was “on the hight side of $100 million,” according to Rich Hilleman, who in 2014 served as VP chief creative director at Electronic Arts.
- In 2021, miHoYo co-founder Cai Haoyu confirmed that Genshin Impact had a budget of $100 million, and the studio expected to spend $200 million or even more per year on its support and further development. However, it is unclear whether that initial $100 million included marketing costs.
- Eidos Montreal head David Anfossi told GamesIndustry.biz that “Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and other different AAA single-player games, cost $75 million to $100 million” to produce.
- Game developers and publishers rarely disclose the budgets of their titles, so it is hard to say how much hits like GTA V cost. For example, Los Angeles Times report from 2012 suggested that Star Wars: The Old Republic cost “nearly $200 million” to make. It is worth noting that although this estimation might seem accurate, neither EA nor BioWare have confirmed it.
- The same goes for Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar and Take-Two didn’t disclose the information, but a GamesBeat report estimated development costs at between $240 million and $300 million.