Back in 1993, when the revolutionary first person shooter, Doom, was released, a game could be made by eleven people with a budget that was probably around $200,000. Today, the production of a video game can cost upwards of tens of millions of dollars and sometimes takes over 5 years to develop. Releasing an A-list title is a massive business undertaking, employing hundreds or thousands of people. An incredible amount of risk is involved in releasing a title. Big name publishers lean towards releasing sequels and safer titles that appeal to a broader audience.
Sometimes an ambitious game developer will completely overrun its budget and development time. Sometimes this results in an epic title that breaks all the rules set before it. More often than not, it results in poor reviews, poor sales and a disappointing game.
Arguably one of the latter, the most expensive video game, until recently, was a Sega Dreamcast game called Shenmue. Released in 1999, the project cost over $70 million and took over 7 years to complete. It was produced and directed by Yu Suzuki for the Sega-AM2 (Sega Amusement Machine Research and Development Department 2). Shenmue boasted unparalleled freedom and interactivity and even a real time weather system. But this wasn’t enough to impress many reviewers; the most expensive video game received mixed reviews and experienced mediocre sales. Nonetheless, the expensive game inspired a massive fan base that remains active to this day.
Rockstar North, known for their mature titles, has recently ousted Shenmue from its most expensive position and replaced it with their own offering, Grand Theft Auto IV. Taking place in the fictional Liberty City, a close likeness of New York City, GTA IV also allows players an unequaled level of freedom and interactivity. The in-game radio has over 150 songs which, through a deal with Amazon, players can download in real life. The game even includes two hours of television that a player can watch while ignoring pressing responsibilities such as assassinating suspiciously familiar anti-video game lawyers.
While the exact figure isn’t yet public knowledge, Rockstar North’s president has estimated that the world’s most expensive video game cost about $100 million to make. Luckily for us, the game only costs consumers around $60.
Rockstar North’s rand Theft Auto IV $60