Information about the production budgets of some of the biggest PlayStation exclusives has been accidently made public during the FTC v. Microsoft hearing. Let’s take a look at how these numbers compare to other AAA games.

Horizon Forbidden West and TLoU Part II production budgets compared to other AAA games

The Last of Us Part II

What happened?

  • As part of the FTC v. Microsoft hearing, Sony provided the court with a document containing commercial information about the company’s Call of Duty revenues and production costs of some of its first-party games.
  • However, these details were redacted with a black Sharpie, which made it possible to see the redactions after the scanning. So this sensitive information accidentally became public.
  • It appears that Call of Duty generated $800 million in revenue for Sony in the US alone during 2021. Global revenue was around $1.5 billion.
  • PlayStation’s first-party game, Horizon Forbidden West, cost $212 million to make over the course of five years. A peak headcount was around 300 developers.
  • The Last of Us Part II cost $220 million took six years and 10 months to develop, with a peak headcount of 200 full-time employees.
  • It is worth noting that these are development costs, excluding marketing budgets.
  • Taking this information into account, PlayStation’s other first-party games of similar scope like the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 could have similar production budgets.

What are the development costs of other AAA games in the industry?

  • Cyberpunk 2077‘s total budget was PLN 1.2 billion (around $316 million at the April 2021 exchange rate). According to CD Projekt president Adam Kiciński, 55% of that sum was spent on direct development costs, or around $173.8 million.
  • For comparison, The Witcher 3‘s total budget (development + marketing costs) was PLN 306 million (around $82 million at the August 2015 exchange rate).
  • Development cost of Battlefield 4 was “on the hight side of $100 million,” according to Rich Hilleman, who in 2014 served as VP chief creative director at Electronic Arts.
  • In 2021, miHoYo co-founder Cai Haoyu confirmed that Genshin Impact had a budget of $100 million, and the studio expected to spend $200 million or even more per year on its support and further development. However, it is unclear whether that initial $100 million included marketing costs.
  • Eidos Montreal head David Anfossi told that “Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and other different AAA single-player games, cost $75 million to $100 million” to produce.
  • Game developers and publishers rarely disclose the budgets of their titles, so it is hard to say how much hits like GTA V cost. For example, Los Angeles Times report from 2012 suggested that Star Wars: The Old Republic cost “nearly $200 million” to make. It is worth noting that although this estimation might seem accurate, neither EA nor BioWare have confirmed it.
  • The same goes for Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar and Take-Two didn’t disclose the information, but a GamesBeat report estimated development costs at between $240 million and $300 million.

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