7 Most Expensive Video Games Ever Made
With National Video Game Day just around the corner, it’s time to show some love to the pastime that has entertained people of all ages around the globe: video games Ever since it was introduced around the late 1950s, video games have become bigger and better over the years. And as games have become more realistic and immersive, prices have naturally gone up with some blockbuster games costing millions of dollars to develop. Here are the seven most expensive video games ever made:
1. Grand Theft Auto V - $256 Million
Grand Theft Auto V, the fifth installment in the highly popular Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise, is the most expensive video game to date. Costing a massive $256 million, the game’s budget is even more expensive than most movies made today. All the money poured into the game seems to have been put into good use as the game sold 145 million copies and is a recipient of numerous awards including the VFX Game of the Year and the BAFTA British Game Award.
Released eight years after GTA IV and set again in the fictional state of San Andreas, the game uses the same open-world, third-person capabilities of its predecessor. GTA V is the second best-selling game of all time, only behind the 3D open-world sandbox classic Minecraft.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - $250 Million
The second most expensive game in history comes from one of the most successful first-person shooter game franchises of all time. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released in 2009 and developed by Infinity Ward, is the direct sequel to 2007’s Modern Warfare and is available for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Although development “only” cost around $50 million, the game’s publisher Activision spent another $200 million for the game’s marketing.
With 25 million copies sold, the first-person shooter game follows the same success of its predecessor and even sold nearly five million copies within the first 24 hours of its release. Although both fans and critics cited the lack of innovation, they still praised the game for its highly enjoyable campaign and multiplayer modes.
3. Cyberpunk 2077 - $174 Million
One of the most highly anticipated games of the 21st century, Cyberpunk 2077 went all out in terms of spending. Around $174 million was spent on development with reports saying that millions more were spent on the game’s marketing. The costs have so far benefited the game’s developer and publisher, CD Projekt (formerly CD Projekt Red), as 13.7 million copies have been sold so far since the game’s release in late 2020.
The action role-playing game transports users in the futuristic open world of Night City, California where they will be playing a mercenary outlaw named V. Cyberpunk 2077 is currently one of the best-reviewed games today despite multiple users complaining of various bugs and glitches. Nonetheless, the Cyberpunk 2020 release has lived up to the hype with its success also attributed to “Matrix” and “John Wick” actor Keanu Reeves making an appearance in the game.
4. Final Fantasy VII - $145 Million
Considered as one of the greatest video games ever released, the original version of Final Fantasy VII (developed by Japanese video game company Square Enix) is also one of the most expensive games ever made. Costs for the 1997 classic ballooned to $145 million with $100 million spent on marketing and $45 million spent on the actual game development. Despite the technological advancements used for the 2020 FFVII remake, the overall cost ($100 million) still couldn’t match the cost of the original game.
First released in 1987, nearly 100 Final Fantasy games have been released since including 15 core games in the Final Fantasy anthology series. Final Fantasy VII Remake (exclusive to the Playstation 4 and 5) is the latest entry in the popular franchise and follows the same story as its PS1 counterpart but with much better graphics and gameplay. With the game to be released in multiple parts, Part 1 was released in 2020 with Part 2 expected to be launched in 2022. The original FFVII is the best-selling game in the franchise to date.
5. Destiny - $140 Million
Although not a worldwide phenomenon compared to the other games on this list, Destiny (released for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One) still gained positive reviews and is also another game that cost more than $100 million to make.
Released in 2014, Destiny is an online multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Activision wherein players aren’t only treated to traditional player vs. player (PVP) modes but also an expansive open-world experience. The game is now under the Bungie umbrella after the developer separated from Activision in 2019.
6. Halo 2 - $120 Million
The sequel to the highly popular 2001 Xbox game Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 carries the same success as its predecessor with 8.4 million copies sold. Although the number isn’t comparable to video game sales today, Halo 2 still holds the record of being the highest-selling first-generation Xbox game. Developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios (now Xbox Gaming), Halo 2 cost $120 million adjusted to today’s inflation.
Also available to the Xbox One game console with the help of backward compatibility, Halo 2 continues the story of iconic soldier Master Chief as he wages war against an alien race called the Covenant. Much like the first Halo game, the sequel also received critical acclaim with some of its features also becoming a mainstay in succeeding Halo games.
7. Max Payne 3 - $105 Million
Also developed (and published) by Rockstar Games, Max Payne 3 is the third installment in the Max Payne franchise and is also the most expensive. Rockstar ended up spending $105 million on the game, the same amount it spent on GTA IV which was released four years prior.
Despite the positive reviews, Max Payne 3 failed to capture the same success as Max Payne and Max Payne 2 in terms of revenue although the game still managed to sell four million copies. It also was received accolades from multiple gaming publications.
As the video game industry continues to surge, it won’t be surprising if more million-dollar games are being made. If the trend keeps up, a game costing $1 billion may even come sooner rather than later.