Is ‘Grand Theft Auto 6’ On Track To Become History’s Most Expensive Video Game?
— 10 May 2023

Is ‘Grand Theft Auto 6’ On Track To Become History’s Most Expensive Video Game?

— 10 May 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

The UK Competition & Markets Authority’s decision to block the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger has yielded some rather fascinating insights about the economics of publishing AAA video game franchises. Insights that indicate Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive Software’s long-awaited Grand Theft Auto 6 could potentially become the most expensive video game ever produced.

The inquiry observed that five years ago, your standard AAA console/PC releases had development budgets ranging from US$50 million to US$150 million (AU$74 million to AU$220 million). But these days, titles greenlit for release in 2024-2025 are being approved for development budgets closer to US$200 million or higher.

Call of Duty, for example, routinely requires development budgets exceeding US$300 million (AU$440 million), while GTA 6 and “other future tent-poles” are expected to cruise beyond US$250 million (AU$370 million) with relative ease.

One large studio, whose identity has been deliberately omitted from the report, claims a major franchise’s development can cost up to US$660 million (AU$975 million) for the actual product and US$550 million (AU$812 million) for marketing. Meaning all up, you’re looking at a billion-dollar commitment.

RELATED: ‘Grand Theft Auto 6’ Leak Confirmed Legit By Rockstar Games

Considering the sheer cultural magnitude of every Grand Theft Auto instalment’s arrival, what is rumoured to be a staggeringly expansive map, and based on precedents set by past GTA games, the hefty marketing investment ahead… you can see why popular YouTubers like INTER and publications such as Gamerficial believe Grand Theft Auto 6 will become history’s most expensive video game.

And keep in mind, spending of this calibre isn’t exactly uncharacteristic for Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive Software. Nor is it a considerable risk. GTA 5 managed to earn over US$800 million (AU$1.2 million) on launch day alone and continues to rake it in through next-gen reissues, GTA Online a decade after release. In fact, according to Take-Two accountants, it’s generated nearly US$7.7 billion (AU$11.4 billion) as of 2023.

At the time of this writing, the most expensive games of all time are as follows (development budgets only):

  1. Star Citizen – $543 million [Cloud Imperium Games]
  2. Destiny – $500 million [Activision Blizzard]
  3. Cyberpunk 2077 – $316 million [CD Projekt SA]
  4. Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare – $250 million [Activision Blizzard]
  5. Final Fantasy VII – $145 million [Square Enix]

Note: All $$$ = USD

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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