CoD: MW2 may have made staggering sums of money, but it wasn’t cheap to make, either – not only did its development cost $40-50 million, but its marketing and launch budget was a whopping $200 million smackers.
In case you’ve been buried under a rock for the past month, you probably know that Cods Mew Too is a staggeringly massive game – not so much in terms of content as in terms of all the other numbers surrounding it. Activision has been triumphantly parading some of these numbers around like a peacock showing off his brightly-colored tail made entirely of money, but other numbers have been less celebrated – specifically, how much the game cost to make.
In the same LA Times piece that revealed that there would be a third studio announced to the Call of Duty franchise, it was revealed that the development budget for MewTwo was approximately $40 to $50 million dollars. That’s not the most expensive game in the world – GTA IV cost double that, and WoW‘s yearly operational expenses are almost certainly many times that amount – but it’s certainly not cheap, either.
The real kicker, though, is that beyond the ~$50m development, the game had a launch budget of $200m to spend on things “(i)ncluding marketing expenses and the cost of producing and distributing discs.” Obviously, Activision was spending money to make money, and these high costs have been more than offset by astronomical sales of the game, but it’s still a pretty staggering figure.
Honestly, it feels silly to point to MW2 as evidence for anything in the industry, since it’s such a statistical aberration. But lately, it’s becoming more and more clear that many gamers – and indeed, many gaming journalists – have no idea how much it costs to actually make a game, or that there are significant additional expenses such as marketing and shipping that aren’t included in the development budget (as is evidenced by many of the comments to this article, actually).
It’s hard to wrap one’s head around these numbers. I can’t even decide which is more flabbergasting, that MW2 cost four times as much to market and distribute as it did to make, or that it made twice that much money in just five days.
With any luck, hopefully we’ll be running out of MewTwo news soon. It makes me kind of miss the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott, to be honest.