The video game industry is one of the most financially lucrative industries in the world. With the improvement in video game technology, video games have come far away from their “descending bricks” days. Video games aren’t just for kids anymore. In fact, there are many video games that are not meant for kids. Nowadays, a lot of video games have higher budgets than many movies. And all that money is not spent on flashy launch events and cinematic trailers only. Modern video games have engaging storylines, a wide variety of themes, stunning graphics, and invigorating gameplay experience. There is a reason there are eSports leagues worth millions of dollars. In this post, we will be taking a look at some of the most expensive video games ever made. Most of these games are very good and some of them will end up on many “Best Video Games of All Time” lists as well. However, this list is purely based on the amount of money that was spent in developing and releasing the video game. It’s not a review of the games. The list is arranged in ascending order. Without further ado, let’s press the start button.
Here are the 15 Most Expensive Video Games Ever Made
15. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ($80 million)
Kicking off our list of the most expensive video games ever made is the fifth entry of one of gaming’s most beloved series: Metal Gear Solid. While the game was fantastic, it was also somewhat bittersweet. It was the last MGS title that creator Hideo Kojima worked on before his fallout with Konami. In it, we accompany Big Boss in his quest for revenge, and his mission to build a new nation full of mercenaries. The stealth and gameplay were fluid and the difficulty curve was almost nonexistent. Konami pumped in $80 million for this game and the result was an unforgettable entry to a beloved series that will be hard to improve upon.
14. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt ($81 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. The Henry Cavill and Anya Chalotra starring Netflix series, The Witcher has made this a household name but the world of gamers already loved The Witcher series of games. And the third entry of the franchise is definitely the best one. This game is a polished gem. Developer CD Projekt made every effort to impress with their third entry in the Witcher series with a budget of $81 million.
We follow Geralt of Rivia as he follows the trail of his lover, Yennefer. Since it’s the world of Witcher, a lot of crazy, inexplicable things happen (including a crazy Geralt-Yennefer sex scene on the back of a unicorn). Compared to the previous installments in The Witcher series, this game featured better combat, stunning graphics and world design, and an almost picture-perfect medieval world representation.
The combat was better, the graphics and environment breathtakingly beautiful, and the vibe of a medieval world was on point. Even the gamers who weren’t sold on the first two Witcher titles, completely bought in with this one.
13. Red Dead Redemption ($90 million)
Red Dead Redemption 2 was released to much fanfare recently. Even though that is a brilliant game, it can’t possibly compete with its predecessor, and the next entrant on the most expensive video games ever list, Red Dead Redemption. People bought the XBOX 360 in 2008 to play Grand Theft Auto: IV, but they kept it to play Red Dead Redemption. This game brought the classic drama and polish that we come to expect from a story-based Rockstar title. It cost around $90 million to make, significantly less than Grand Theft Auto IV and V, but still became a beloved classic that many consider one of their top games of all time. People fell in love with the antihero, John Marston, and his quest to save his family from the U.S. government.
12. Deadpool ($100 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Deadpool. The early 90s Rob Liefeld creation is a gift that keeps on giving. Even before Ryan Reynolds immortalized the character through the Deadpool movies, this video game was already bringing in Marvel fans into the world of gaming. Everyone’s favorite ‘merc with a mouth’ got his own ridiculous game back in 2013 with a game budget of $100 million. While the game was a solid third-person beat ‘em up/hack n’ slash, and it had humor riddled throughout, it didn’t receive the best reviews. A lot of the budget was spent on the game’s marketing and as a result, it wasn’t really very well-reviewed by critics.
11. Grand Theft Auto IV ($100 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Grand Theft Auto IV. Rockstar Games invested a large amount of money on its fourth (at least numerically) installment of the beloved Grand Theft Auto franchise. Their dedication to the realism of Liberty City (based on real-life New York City) was truly amazing. The city had an unfriendly, unforgiving, and cold vibe that had gamers coming back for more.
Grand Theft Auto IV was delayed a few times and that brought in the wrath of the gaming community. However, things cooled down once the incredible title was released.
Unfortunately, Rockstar DID cut a few corners, namely in voice acting. Not in quality, but how they compensated the voice actors. Voice actors in games don’t see royalties from games. Michael Hollick, who voiced Nicko Bellic stated that it was tough for him to see Rockstar games making hundreds of millions of dollars off the title while the voice actors got no royalties.
10. Max Payne 3 ($105 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Max Payne 3. Rockstar’s neo-noir classic Max Payne turned a lot of heads back in 2001. The revolutionary ‘bullet time’ gameplay feature in which time was slowed down for a cool Matrix-like effect as you gunned down mobsters, was jaw-dropping. Which teenage boy with a decent desktop did not play that game at that time?
The sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne was more of the same, with a better paint job and ragdoll physics. Although not as well-received as the first entry, it was still considered a classic by Max Payne fans. Then the long wait began. After a tumultuous original release of 2009 being pushed back constantly, it was finally released in 2012. Gone were the gritty streets of New York during winter blizzards. Instead, gamers found themselves in the middle of the humid, gritty streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Rockstar poured an impressive $105 million into the title, and it shows. Buoyed by their constant success, Rockstar Games choose to not cut any corners. Max Payne 3, although a departure for the series, kept its noir tone, bloody gameplay, and tortured protagonist.
9. Final Fantasy VII ($114 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Final Fantasy VII. Come on, it’s a gaming list, how can it not have a single Final Fantasy title. It’s just one of those seminal classics that defined a genre and has found its way to the top of many gamers’ top games of all-time lists. A lot of the budget was dedicated to the extreme shift in cinematic quality from Final Fantasy VI, not to mention that this was the first entry to be on a CD, allowing for even more capabilities for the developers.
With $114 million to play around, Square created a truly memorable gaming experience that was well worth every penny. Great gameplay, great music, (courtesy of the great Nobuo Uematsu), and everything else. What’s not to love about Final Fantasy VII?
8. Halo 2 ($120 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Halo 2. The original Halo was a revelation and a superhit among gamers. The expectations were sky high with this game. This was one of the most significant games in development history. Bungie knocked it out of the park with the original, Halo: Combat Evolved. All eyes were on them; they HAD to deliver not only the same addictive FPS gameplay, but they now had to bring their next Halo game into the multiplayer sphere. They did this and more.
With a budget of $120 million, Bungie pulled out all of the stops when creating a great single-player experience but made the Halo multiplayer experience one that would prove revolutionary, having games emulate it for years to come. There’s a reason some gamers still play Halo 2, in 2020!
7. Dead Space ($120 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Dead Space. The game was released in 2008 after being in development from around 2005 with the desire to make somewhat of a spiritual successor to the System Shock series for the PC.
Set in the far future, you play as Isaac Clarke as you search for your girlfriend through a derelict space station infested with bloodthirsty aliens.
One of the lead developers, Glen Schofield, wanted to bring about a blend of System Shock, the recently popular Resident Evil 4, and the sci-fi film classic Event Horizon.
With a hefty budget of $120 million, Schofield and his team didn’t really have any shortage of funds. However, all of that money was put to good use, resulting in an excellent game.
6. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ($125 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Whether you were a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise or not, just watching the trailer of the 2013 reboot should’ve got you excited. Just look at Lara Croft going full-blown Predator on those soldiers. It was a great, new look for Lara Croft and her insane skills which helped her become the legendary tomb raider we know her and love her for.
The second in the reboot series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider upped the stakes with a huge budget of $125 million, every penny of which was well spent.
5. Destiny ($140 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Destiny. Bungie is best at games that involve killing aliens and Destiny was great at that.
Destiny was the new IP from Bungie after Halo, and people were champing at the bit to get their hands on it. It had a huge budget of $140 million.
In the beginning, the game encountered a lot of bugs and crashes, especially because of its “always online” style. Luckily, the flaws were ironed out sooner rather than later and the game went on to become an instant classic.
4. Star Citizen ($180 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Star Citizen. This might be a bit of a controversial entry since this game has not actually been released yet. But the budget of this game is $180 million (which is expected to grow even more) and that’s enough to put it on this list. Started by the creator of the Wing Commander series made famous in the 1990s, Chris Roberts, initially started the ambitious project as a Kickstarter. People quickly ate it up, wanting a new, more modern successor to the Wing Commander games.
The biggest problem with Star Citizen is that it seems Roberts and his team keep raking the money in, and not delivering on promises. Sure, sometimes they showed impressive game demos, but they keep pushing back dates and acquiring more money. Hopefully, this game will be released sooner rather than later.
3. Star Wars: The Old Republic ($200 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Star Wars: The Old Republic. Well, Star Wars movies tend to have large budgets, why should the games fall behind. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most popular games ever and its fans were completely on board with an MMORPG set in the same great Star Wars universe.
It was announced to be in development in 2008, followed by its anticipated release in 2011.
The budget BioWare was working with this time around was $200 million. Worth it.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ($250 million)
Next on the list of the most expensive video games ever made is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. To be honest, the budget numbers are just getting obscene now. A quarter of a billion dollars on developing a game? What?
However, this game was totally worth every penny spent on its development. It wasn’t just a great game, it was a watershed moment in the world of gaming. The multiplayer gaming option where you can bring your friends along for the ride was a novelty at that time. It has been emulated many times over now, but nothing can compare to everyone’s awe and amazement when they played the game for the first time. the first time they played the game.
Obviously, newer Call of Duty titles have since sprung up and usurped Modern Warfare 2 as successors but when it was launched, it was the thing. The incredible game was developed over the course of 2008, releasing near the end of 2009 to amazing sales and fanfare.
1. Grand Theft Auto V ($265 million)
Finally, we have reached the end of the list, and the top of the mountain, where the most expensive video game of all time Grand Theft Auto V, awaits us. Unsurprisingly, it’s a Rockstar title that’s at the top of the list of the most expensive video games ever made. Because of the company’s immense success, they have been able to pump in a lot of dollars behind some of their best titles. With 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar took everything to another level. A staggering $265 million dollars were spent during the development of this game but it brought back almost four times that amount within just three days of release. Yes, the game earned over $1 billion in three days! As of the publication date of this post, Grand Theft Auto V has sold over 120 million copies worldwide. Only Minecraft and Tetris have sold more and that is staggering because those games are available on many different platforms and they are much cheaper compared to the $60 sticker price of Grand Theft Auto V. With over $6 billion in revenue, GTA V has made more than any movie, book or game in the history of humanity. The insane $265 million budget might seem like chump change when you consider the revenue it has raked in, but Rockstar’s dedication well and truly paid off. GTA V is not just the most expensive video game of all time, it’s also the most financially successful game of all time. Just about everyone who has played GTA V has loved the game. Almost seven years after its release, the game is still very popular, and the Grand Theft Auto: Online mode continues to generate a copious amount of money for Rockstar Games.
So that was our list of the most expensive video games ever made. Which of these games have you played? Tell us in the comments below.