1. Grand Theft Auto V: $265m – 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Developed by Rockstar North, its release on September 17th is one of the most hyped of the year. Costing around $265,000,000 the game almost measures up to the most expensive films of all time – edged out by Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End at $300m. Speculation around the game indicates sales will comfortably cover the mammoth costs (which include production and marketing) with an expected 25 million sales in the first year, earning the company approximately $1.5bn.
2. Stars Wars: The Old Republic: $200m – 2011 (PC)
Previously touted as the most expensive video game of all time, Star Wars: The Old Republic was developed by BioWare Austin to the tune of an estimated $200m and released by Electronic Arts. Based on the Star Wars universe, the game sought to combine the hugely popular online community of World of Warcraft with the iconic Stars Wars story created by George Lucas, and is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG. Within three days of launching the game had amassed one million subscribers, and has remained highly profitable.
3. Disney Infinity: $100m – 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PC)
Developed by Avalanche Software and published by Disney Interactive Studios in August 2013 (with PC version to follow shortly) the game reportedly cost $100m – half that of the next most expensive game. Disney Infinity is an action-adventure game, where players explore the Disney world with their favourite characters from the Disney franchise.
4. Red Dead Redemption: $100m – 2010 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Released in 2010, the game garnered universal critical acclaim with reviewers praising nearly all aspects of the software. A Rockstar production, the total costs for the game came to an estimated $100m and took 800 people nearly six years to complete. Perhaps because of the high quality finish, the game was described by Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser as a ‘nightmare’ to create, and a ‘massive headache’ from a technical perspective. The hard work paid off as the game has sold around 13m copies to date.
5. Grand theft Auto IV: $100m – 2008 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC )
The precursor to what’s now the world’s most expensive game, GTA IV wasn’t exactly cheap itself. Costing an estimated $100m to create, the open world action-adventure video game broke industry records grossing $500m in the week following its release. Since then, the game has gone on to sell over 25m copies, and has been widely recognised as one of the best games of all time.
6. Gran Turismo 5: $80m – 2010 (PS3)
Taking five years to complete, Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) cost an estimated $80m and was developed by Polyphony Digital and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Although the game debuted to mixed reviews, it has subsequently sold over 10m copies.
7. Shenmue: $70m – 1999 (Dreamcast)
The oldest game on the list, when released Shenmue was the most expensive game on the market, produced for what would be $70m today. The action adventure game was developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega. Although the game was praised for its beautiful visuals, critics were divided and this was reflected in relatively poor sales which seem unlikely to have recouped the initially massive production costs.
8. Too Human: $60m – 2008 (Xbox 360)
Originally planned for release in 1999, Too Human is noted for its unexpectedly 10 year long development, caused by Nintendo’s exclusive partnership with Silicon Knights which shifted attention away from the game and onto other projects. Eventually, in 2005, work on the game was restarted – in an entirely different format to that previously announced. Despite more delays, and estimates for the total cost of the project ranging between $60 and $100m, the game was released for Xbox in 2008.
9. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: $60m – 2008 (PS3)
The action stealth video game, developed exclusively for the PS3 console, received an excellent critical response when launched in 2008. Developed after pressure from fans, the game is an instalment in the Metal Gear Solid storyline, but picks up from a later date than the last game. Commercial success followed critical, with the game reportedly shifting 3m copies in the first day alone, and was the best-selling game until Gran Turismo 5 arrived on the market.
10. Halo 3: $55m – 2007 (Xbox 360)
The third instalment in the Halo series, the video game was developed by Bungie for the Xbox 360 for 2007. Microsoft spent $40m marketing the game towards a wider fan base in a move that appeared to have paid off come launch. Halo 3 brought in $300m in the first week, and has sold over 11m copies to date, making it one of the bestselling Xbox games ever created.