Nowadays it’s not just the average CGI-drenched Marvel film that crosses the one billion mark – video games bring in huge profits that fall within the range of multi-million or a few billion dollars. Plus with technological improvements that promise faster and superior gaming devices, video games are now a vital part of the entertainment industry.
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And just like blockbuster films, video game series now have enormous production budgets to ensure gorgeous and intricate visuals and game-play that is both engaging and addictive.
Here are some games that have been made with massive budgets. The production costs listed here include both the developmental and marketing costs, adjusted with 2019 inflation.
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10 APB: All Points Bulletin – $115 Million
This is a multiplayer online game that was first released in 2010 for the Microsoft Windows platform.
It is a third-person shooter game where players have to choose between two factions- Enforcers or Criminals- and carry out the requisite missions. As an open-world game, the players fight it out in the fictional urban landscape of San Paro.
However, the game was shut down and relaunched later as a free-to-play game called APB: Reloaded by K2 Network. Later in 2016 and 2017, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game were released.
9 Grand Theft Auto IV – $116 Million
This is the eleventh game in the Grand Theft Auto series and is available in both single and multiplayer options. This one is also an open-world game, which means the players are free to explore Liberty City, which is based on a fictionalized version of New York.
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But the primary game-play involves following the story of Niko Bellic, a war veteran and his various encounters with mob bosses and loan sharks. The game also has two expansion parks – The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony – which add to the main storyline.
8 Dead Space 2 – $134 Million
This one is a survival horror game that was developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts in 2011. As the name suggests, the game is set on the Sprawl, a space station that surrounds the last remaining shard of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
The players take on the role of Issac Clarke who fights a Necromorph outbreak in the station. With five difficulty levels and a multiplayer mode, the game opened to critical acclaim.
In fact, it sold over 2 million units in the first week of its release.
7 Shadow Of The Tomb Raider – $110-$135 Million
Released in 2018, this game is the twelfth installment in the Tomb Raider series and is set after the event of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Players take on the third-person perspective of Lara Croft as she moves across Central America and faces a paramilitary organization Trinity and is on a race against time to stop the Mayan apocalypse.
One of the most popular action-adventure games, Shadow of the Tomb Raider like its predecessors also has optional side-quests and a customizable game-play experience. It also evolves on Lara Croft’s character arc and the visuals are heavily inspired by Mayan and Incan mythology.
6 Destiny – $148 Million
This 2014 online-only first-person shooter game is set in a “mythic science fiction” world. It also has some role-playing game elements and has player-versus-environment and player-versus-player modes.
In the game, one plays a Guardian who uses a special power called the “Light” to protect the City from invasion by alien races. It has four expansion packs and a sequel Destiny 2 that was released in 2017.
The game even won a BAFTA Award for Best Game in 2014 and has over 25 million registered users.
5 Final Fantasy VII – $125-226
This one’s pretty old- it was released in 1997 for PlayStation and made Japanese role-playing games hugely popular all over the world.
Like the earlier Final Fantasy games, it has three modes- the world map, the field, and the battle screen- and one takes on the role of a mercenary who belongs to an eco-terrorist organization to fight a mega-corporation that is bent on using the planet as an energy source.
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A significant amount of the game’s budget was allocated to marketing. There was even a commercial that was played on prime-time television alongside shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons.
4 Halo 2 – $212 Million
Another first-person shooter game, Halo 2 was released in 2004 by Bungie as a sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved. Even now, it remains as one of the most popular Xbox games ever released.
The game has both single and multiplayer modes. Set in the 26th century, the players alternate between the human Master Chief and the alien Arbiter. The Campaign mode offers four levels of difficulty.
As part of the marketing campaign, the developers released an alternate reality game called “I Love Bees” wherein players had to solve real-world puzzles. This in turn led to the development of other alternate reality games.
3 Star Wars: The Old Republic – $223 Million
Star Wars by itself is a huge franchise- with movies, television shows, comics, toys and now, video games. Star Wars: The Old Republic is set at a time where there is a sort-of peace between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. Players can play either as part of the Republic or the Sith and the game has a number of customizable options.
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As a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), it had one of the largest development budgets for a game. It uses a hybrid free-to-play business model with a paid subscription. And within just three days of its release, it had over a million subscribers.
2 Grand Theft Auto V – $285
Grand Theft Auto V is markedly different from its predecessors. It has both first and third-person perspectives and the story follows three criminals on their heists all across a fictionalized version of Southern California. It also has a multiplayer mode that allows up to 30 players to play in competitive or cooperative modes.
It remains as the fastest-selling entertainment product in history having made over $1 billion within the first three days of release. It has so far earned over $6 billion in revenue and is the third best-selling video game of all time with over 110 million units sold.
1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2- $292
Released in 2009 by Activision, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the sixth installment in the Call of Duty series and opened to critical and commercial acclaim. It sold over 4.7 million copies within the first 24 hours of its release, and as of now, has sold over 22.7 million copies.
A first-person shooter game with a multiplayer mode, the game has two main playable characters: Sergeant Gary Roach Sanderson from Task Force 141, and Private James Ramirez of the United States Army Rangers.
The game even has a six-part comic mini-series that explores the backstory of one of the characters, Ghost who was a member of Task Force 141. There was even a fan-made prequel that was endorsed by Activision.
Looks like video games have already taken the billion-dollar entertainment industry by storm!
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