Thursday, August 21st, 2008...12:50 pm

10 Most Expensive Video Game Budgets Ever

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1. Grand Theft Auto IV, $100,000,000: Only just recently obtaining the No. 1 spot – knocking Shenmue from its lofty perch – by being released at the end of April earlier this year, GTAIV is now officially the game that has been the most expensive to make, not to mention being the game to make people have a sudden urge to compare the market for RAC breakdown or green flag breakdown cover…you know…just in case. And in this current climate you will probably need your credit card to buy it. This controversial crime sandbox took 1000 people over three and a half years to complete!

2. Shenmue, $70,000,000: Released on the Dreamcast back in ‘99/’00, this game most definitely made a dent in the savings and has been the most expensive game ever for the past 8 years. It must have seemed pure insanity to attempt to make a game with a budget like this! Not only that, but it took 7 years to make! Disappointingly, it undersold vastly, only selling 1.2 million copies worldwide. Despite being one of the few Dreamcast titles to sell more than a million copies, gaming website IGN states that every single Dreamcast owner would have needed to buy two copies of the game in order for creators Sega to have even thought of turning a profit!

3. Too Human, $80-$100,000,000: While the budget of this tale of genetically enhanced humans trying to thwart a machine menace is only rumored, developers Silicon Knights have had to scrap plans to use Epic Games’ Unreal 3 Engine and have had to build their own game engine from the ground up, further adding to the cost of creating the game.

4. Metal Gear Solid 4, $50-$70,000,000: No exact figure has been found, but anything between $50 and $70 million has been thrown about. When bundled with the PS3 on its debut, the game helped increased the sales of PS3 units from around 10,000 to up to 77,000! As of August, this tactical espionage action game has shifted almost 4 million copies worldwide!

5. Halo 3, $60,000,000: This highly anticipated installment of the famous first-person shooter franchise reputedly cost just over $30 million, but due to the epic scale of the marketing/advertizing (real-time cinematics, pre-rendered CGI, even a live-action film were all made purely to advertize the game), this added a further $30 million onto the production costs. Luckily, first-day sales in the US reached astounding figures of around $170 million!

6. APB MMO, $50,000,000: This is an upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online game for Windows that will feature two opposing playable sides: Enforcement and Criminals, both competing head-to-head to complete various objectives. Set to be released some time in 2009, but a beta-test is said to be “very close” with some registrations already having taken place.

7. Tom Clancy MMO, $50,000,000: Pretty much anything with “Tom Clancy” in front of it is destined to be a big seller, and I imagine the developers of this $50 million online game are hoping the same. Not much else is known besides it being a Clancy MMO with a large budget, as that is all the CEO of developers Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, had to say when he announced the game was in development.

8. Killzone 2, $40,000,000: Set for a Feb 2009 release, this is the third in the franchise, believe it or not, having been preceded by Killzone: Liberation on the PSP and with the original Killzone on the PS2 before that. Originally announced at 2005’s E3 with a trailer, fans are eager to experience the HD features of Killzone 2, which will be locked at a reasonable 30 frames per second at 720p.

9. Final Fantasy XII, $40,000,000: The eagerly anticipated latest installment in arguably Japan’s most popular gaming franchise managed to sell over 1.7 million copies in its first week in Japan alone. The game also sold over 1.5 million units in its first week of release in the US, and with 5 years of development time, it seems the wait was worth it, making it the tenth best-selling game on the PS2.

10. Final Fantasy IX, $40,000,000: Released in ‘00/’01 for the PS1, FF9 has since become Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu’s 4th fastest-selling game of all time, going on to sell over 5 million copies worldwide, with around 2.8 million of those copies being sold in Japan alone. With the pre-sales of the game topping record highs even before it had been released, the immense budget and the hype were seemingly justified!


  • I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

  • Does this include marketing budgets, or just development?

  • web design company
    August 22nd, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I worked for Sony when they made Dark Kingdom. I thought the budget was high but compared to these its pocket change.

  • Links please.

  • You’re supposed to start at 10 and end at 1.

  • kamikaze.cockroach
    August 30th, 2008 at 7:10 am

    I wrote tick-tac-toe in Java in college. It cost $15,000 in tuition.

  • I’m curious to know the sources on these. Not that I doubt the accuracy of the figures, I’m just wondering how these numbers were computed and where they were pulled from.

  • Isn’t $80M-$100M more than $70M? Why is the number two entry higher than the number 3?

  • I wonder how much the Gran Turismo series would have set them back over the years of doing those series? alot of time doing testing in real vehicles, scale for the tracks, etc etc!

  • some sale figures for gta 4 would have been nice

    it making 600 000 000 in the first week or something would have been a nice addition (and it would show that the budget was justified opposed to shenmue for example)

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  • Number seems too hight.

  • I know exact budget (and the actual amount spent) for one of listed titles and very close number for another one and I can tell you that the numbers are completely off.

  • final fantasy 9 is my favorite game. YAY!

  • Great site,

  • I’ve worked on one of these projects and your numbers are completely unfounded. Entertaining though, so thanks for that.

  • Hi, it’s me, Gordon again.
    Just to remind you that I know a lot of other things besides game creation budgets. I just can’t tell you them. I just can’t. If you knew what I knew, you would understand.

  • Too Human sucks, btw. I’m returning it.

  • Games are really Fantastic!!!!
    Thanks for this great site.

  • I liked the list, but the greatest to least format ruined it for me. Since it started at its most expensive, it was progressively LESS interesting as the article went on. Still great, and would have been awesome if the list was just flipped around.

    September 29th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Wow, yeah Shenmue was a pretty big and expensive game to create. Too bad for Sega, they were really ambitious with the project, they wanted to spawn off 16 chapters of the game, and I knew that wasn’t realistic. Also, after Shenmue 2, we are still waiting for the rest of the chapters…

  • I bookmarked your blog, thanks for sharing this very interesting post

  • Great post. Gives me what I have been looking for.

  • Shenmue took 14 years. It was originally slated for the sega genisis then saturn. Not 7. Get your facts straight. And it was a far better game than gta4. It was waaaaay ahead of its time. And your price for too human is off 40 mill.

  • That’s funny Scott, that you should talk about getting facts straight. Because yours isn’t. Shenmue, as said by Yu Suzuki more then once, was slated for the Saturn. Do you have a link to prove that false?

    It also didn’t take 14 years to develop. God knows where you got that number from.

    Too human cost 80 million dollars to develop. You’re wrong about that too. A simple google search will prove you wrong there.

    These are indisputable facts. Where do you get your facts from? You seriously need some new sources. I’d be a little embarrassed after talking down to the guy who posted this, for no reason.

  • haha 14 years! :-) so they started work on it in 1985 then yeah? originally slated for the master system, but put back a little while to make action fighter and teddy boy!

  • [...] way back in 2006, the arduous $60m development (putting it somewhere in the middle of our most expensive video games ever list) has witnessed many postponements, rumours and setbacks. However, further delays [...]

  • 14 years? I can list this as 10 worst joke ever. Oh wait! Maybe 14 years since the 1st night they were dream about it.

  • Where does the number of $100 million for GTA IV come from?

    I found a lot of news articles mentioning the $100 million budget, and most of them seem to refer to an interview from the ‘Times Online’.

    To quote the article:
    “He hasn’t a clue how much GTA IV has cost to make but hazards a guess at $100m.”

    So this number is just a guess? Or is there a better reference?

  • lol.. and i wrote a poker game in college, it cost 20,000 in tuition.

  • May the force be with you
    February 12th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Star Wars: The Old Republic – $300 million US dollars

  • I find #10 hard to believe for some reason. Final Fantasy IX made it to this list, but VII, VIII, or X didn’t? I always thought those three cost more than IX. Interesting list regardless :)

  • gran turismo is second maybe you should update your list

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