BySimon Rune Knudsen, writer at Creators.co
A tryhard person enthusiastic about dad rock and weird beers.
Simon Rune Knudsen

Like all good things, a great video game comes at a price. That's why triple A titles are so darn expensive and rarely go on sale. The process of creating them is unimaginably costly and big video game production budgets can easily exceed those of Hollywood movies.

But looking at a game's overall budget can be misleading. Many companies spend a lot of their money on marketing, rather than on making the game itself. The prime example of this is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which Activision developed for $50 million before spending four times as much ($200 million!) on its marketing campaign. And they didn't even buy a Super Bowl ad.

Top 10 Most Expensive Video Games Ever Made

Those are not the kind of games we're going to be looking at on this list. Because we think it's much more interesting to focus on the production cost.

You might also enjoy

We'll list the games based on their development costs alone. That gives a more interesting reflection of how much work was put into the actual task of creating the game, leaving out the skewing numbers of advertisements on billboards and spots on TV.

Let's get to it. Here are the most expensive video games ever made based on development costs.

10. 'Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' (2008)

[Credit: Konami]
[Credit: Konami]
  • Development cost: $70 million ($78 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Konami has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Kojima Productions / Konami
  • Platform: PS3

Metal Gear Solid 4 has an almost bad reputation for its hour-long cut-scenes and convoluted story. The game felt more like a movie than an actual game a lot of times, and we guess creating cut-scenes and coming up with the ideas for the insanely original and somewhat confusing plot took a lot of time, which in the end resulted in a rather costly game.

9. 'Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain' (2015)

[Credit: Konami]
[Credit: Konami]
  • Development cost: $80 million ($81 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Konami has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Kojima Productions / Konami Digital Entertainment
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

The next Metal Gear game put the player in a more active role than its predecessor, presenting the player with a truly open world. The limits for exploring, customizing weapons and building your base and army are almost endless, and this must have taken a lot of manpower to develop.

8. 'Defiance' (2013)

[Credit: Trion Worlds]
[Credit: Trion Worlds]
  • Development cost: $80 million ($82 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Trion World has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Trion Worlds / Trion Worlds
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PS3 and Xbox 360

Building big worlds tends to be a costly affair, and that's exactly what Trion Worlds did in Defiance. This massive online game featured a stunning, shared world for its time, so it's no surprise that the game ended up being more expensive than your average title.

7. 'Red Dead Redemption' (2010)

[Credit: Rockstar Games]
[Credit: Rockstar Games]
  • Development cost: $90 million ($99 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Rockstar Games has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Rockstar San Diego / Rockstar Games
  • Platform: PS3 and Xbox 360

John Marston's world might be a merciless one, but it's also beautiful and gigantic. Add in a very well-developed plot and a fastidious care for western details we've never seen the likes of and you got yourself a game that was bound to cost a pretty dollar.

6. 'Too Human' (2008)

[Credit: Microsoft Game Studios]
[Credit: Microsoft Game Studios]
  • Development cost: $100 million ($111 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Silicon Knights has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Silicon Knights / Microsoft Game Studios
  • Platform: Xbox 360

Too Human was initially set to be released on the first PlayStation in 1999, but the game ran into a lot of development problems over the year. A bit like last year's The Last Guardian (minus the hype), the game managed to stall its release for nine (!) years, changing platforms more than once along the way. Which of course is a costly affair, since people with salaries worked on it the whole time.

5. 'Grand Theft Auto 4' (2008)

[Credit: Rockstar Games]
[Credit: Rockstar Games]
  • Development cost: $100 million ($111 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Rockstar Games has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Rockstar North / Rockstar Games
  • Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows

The Grand Theft Auto franchise's arrival on the new generation of consoles was set to be a grand one, and to pull it off properly money had to be spent. The updated version of Liberty City was gorgeous, and GTA 4 immersed us into Rockstar's violent crime fantasy in a new, almost too life-like way.

4. 'Max Payne 3' (2012)

[Credit: Rockstar Games]
[Credit: Rockstar Games]
  • Development cost: $105 million ($110 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Rockstar Games has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: Rockstar Studios / Rockstar Games
  • Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and OS X

Max Payne 3 features a stunning video game version of San Paulo, a gripping continuation of the franchise's story and some very well-developed gameplay. Rockstar even sent researchers to the city of San Paulo to make their digital version as good as possible.

3. 'Grand Theft Auto 5' (2013)

[Credit: Rockstar Games]
[Credit: Rockstar Games]
  • Development cost: $137 million ($142 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: $265 million ($272 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Developer/publisher: Rockstar North / Rockstar Games
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

GTA 5 was immense when it came out in 2013 and it's still immense today. Los Santos, Blaine County and the rest of the San Andreas State is just enormous, and the amount of options and details put into this game is hard to believe. To top it off, the story is genuinely hilarious and the visuals are breathtaking. There are so many things to do in GTA 5, you find yourself thinking $137 million is an incredibly good deal.

2. 'Destiny' (2014)

[Credit: Activision]
[Credit: Activision]
  • Development cost: $140 million ($143 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: $500 million ($513 million with 2017-inflation)
  • Developer/publisher: Bungie / Activision
  • Platform: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Bungie's Destiny had a problematic birth which goes to show in the game's production cost. When the game finally finished, it delivered on most promises. The open worlds of our solar system were beautiful, the character designs were flawless and the leveling and weapon systems were interesting.

It's a truly unique game that had a costly, pioneering approach to its gameplay. Not everything worked out, as the story seemed rushed and many online-elements didn't work well in the long run, but at least it was a triple A title that tried to do something in a different way. And the current state of the game is a lot better than the initially released version.

1. 'Star Wars: The Old Republic' (2011)

[Credit: Electronic Arts]
[Credit: Electronic Arts]
  • Development cost: $200 million ($213 with 2017-inflation)
  • Total cost: Electronic Arts has never mentioned a total cost
  • Developer/publisher: BioWare / Electronic Arts
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows

This Star Wars-based MMORPG delivered on many fans' burning wish for a huge, online multiplayer experience in the Star Was universe. To pull this off, the team behind the game needed an enormous amount of cash, as they had to build entire planets and moons to support the gameplay and lore.

This took time and a lot of hard work, which translated into the absurdly high production cost of Star Wars: The Old Republic. No other game that we know of even comes close to the $200 million spent here. Which is totally understandable; in most of the above games, we're only talking about world or solar system-building. Here, we're talking about galaxy-building—a much more demanding task.

Other Games Might Rank Higher

[Credit: Rockstar Games]
[Credit: Rockstar Games]

This was our list of the most expensive games ever made when it comes to development costs. It would look entirely different if you took into account the money spent on marketing and advertisements, but that's another story.

It's also worth noting that many developers and publishers are secretive about the actual costs of their games. This is, for example, the case with Square Enix and the production costs of Final Fantasy 15. Its predecessor, Final Fantasy 13, almost made this list with its cost $65 million over four years of development, and it's safe to assume that Final Fantasy 15 was a lot more costly given the fact that it was in development for approximately ten years.

Do you think there's a correlation between cost and quality when it comes to video games?

Trending

Latest from our Creators