It’s no secret that developing AAA games is an expensive business, and one that’s continuing to get more and more expensive at a startling rate. With technology continuing to improve and AAA experiences themselves getting increasingly more massive, it’s unlikely that that’s going to slow down anytime soon.
That’s also evidenced by details provided on the average development and marketing costs for modern AAA games in a report published by the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), following its recent decision to block Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
According to the CMA’s report, the cost of developing a modern AAA game that has been recently greenlit and is targeting a launch in 2024-25 tends to be as high as $200 million or higher, which is up significantly from the figures as they stood even as recently as five years ago, at $50-$150 million on average. Last year’s The Callisto Protocol, for instance, cost $162 million to develop.
The CMA’s report states that new instalments in the Call of Duty franchise already have development budgets in excess of $300 million, while Grand Theft Auto 6 is also mentioned as having a budget of over $250 million.
All of this, interestingly enough, doesn’t even account for marketing and promotion costs. The CMA’s report mentions a number of developers and publishers who provided relevant figures (whose names have obviously been redacted), with many mentioning development costs in the range of $80-$350 million, and marketing costs in the range of $50-$380 million.
One particular publisher, however, revealed that one of its major franchises has hit development costs of $660 million and marketing costs of $550 million.