Videogames have indeed developed, and so have their budgets. 16 years ago, “Grim Fandango”, a best-selling game, cost about $3 Million to be produced and distributed. “Destiny”, another best-seller released this year, had a total budget of $500 Million! (Yes, that’s right, half a billion dollars). Of course we should consider inflation to compare these numbers, but it is definitely not enough to explain the difference. So what have made console videogames become so expensive over the years?

The first reason is the videogame evolution itself that happened over the years, along with the technological development, that made them much more complicated to be developed. While only a dozen of computer programmers were required to develop “Rock ‘n Roll Racing” for Super Nintendo by the beginning of the 90’s, “Grand Theft Auto 5”, released last year, needed over 300 professionals, including designers, writers, engineers, artists, programmers and so on. Development teams became much larger, diversified and, naturally, more expensive.
Another reason is that, due to the realistic graphics demanded by the gamers, companies are hiring professional Hollywood actors to appear in the games. Some 10 years ago, only voice actors were hired for some hundred dollars for a day of dubbing. Recently, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe appeared in “Beyond: Two Souls”; Gary Oldman, in “Call of Duty: Black Ops”; and Kevin Spacey and “Norman Reedus” were already announced for the next “Call of Duty” and “Silent Hills”, respectively. As expected, in order to have any of these famous faces in a videogame, some hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent.
Finally: marketing costs. Announcing a game on TV, in newspapers and on the internet sometimes is not enough anymore. Sony, for example, promoted the launch of their racing blockbuster “Gran Turismo 5” with luxury cars running near the Champs-Élysées in Paris; Electronic Arts attached their first six copies of “Mass Effect 3” to weather balloons and released them to the stratosphere, these balloons would later return to Earth and fall in the hands of a few lucky fans.
With all these expenses to put a new game on the stores’ shelves, one question that you might have: are these games profitable? The answer: in most cases, yes. The aforementioned “Destiny”, for example, made revenue of $500 Million in one day. That is to say, the game’s expenses were covered in only 24 hours of sales! The videogame industry might be expending a lot in order to satisfy the gamers, but it is certainly making loads of money as well.