Gaming’s Most Expensive Titles: From Call of Duty to Los Santos, San Andreas


Since gaming’s humble beginnings on an analogue black and white screen, it has continued to develop, evolve and expand. What once consisted of Pac Man at the local arcade and Pong on the television set at home is now a worldwide pastime, present on every smartphone, tablet, desktop PC and console. As fanbases grew, so did investment, and in the last decade, we’ve seen more profit and cash flow within the industry than ever before. That being said, here’s a rundown of some of gaming’s most expensive titles: from shooters to sci-fi, let’s talk production costs.

Destiny (2014)

Source: Facebook via Destiny

From the makers of the bestselling Halo trilogy – a new fantasy experience that puts the player behind the gun in a fight against alien invaders. The first Destiny game mixed MMORPG and looting elements with the fast-paced action of a first-person shooter. Set in a futuristic Sol Solar System, technology has advanced to almost magical levels in the eyes of the uninformed. With beautiful vistas, stunning soundtrack featurettes and innovations on the genre, Destiny was a game that demanded to be noticed. And you’d hope so, given its $500 million-dollar budget. This is the most expensive AAA game to date, and, sadly, the backing didn’t quite meet results.

Whilst a wonderful piece of entertainment in its own right, Destiny had gaping holes. Namely, the lore, the story and the world. Things were simply missing, left unsaid and unexplained, and lack of context was a huge negative in the eyes of many. Even DLC which doubled the base price of the game left the story-hungry player base wanting. It’s a shame that the writers when presenting the player with such a vast and new universe failed to capitalise on elaborating it in some way. The amount of grinding for loot was also disliked, and repetitive enemies and missions soon grew tiresome. It’s clear that even as gaming becomes increasingly expensive, it’s quality is not a definite correlation, and that many of the best titles are still to be found in the industry’s rich and long history.

Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

Controversial, violent, powerful: the Grand Theft Auto game series has been a topic of discussion since its inception. No debate can ever hope to dispute its fiscal success, however, with the latest release alone making over $2 billion in profit following a $265 million production budget in 2013. As players rampage, shoot and thieve their way across the streets of Los Santos, San Andreas, they can indulge in one of the best-made games of a modern era. Harnessing the capabilities of new hardware, GTA V looks, feels and plays amazing. This is one of the most highly rated games of all time, and for good reason. And with over 50 million copies out there in the world, it’s easy to get your hands on for a decent price.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

Source: Facebook via Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 IW4M Community

A source of nostalgia, frustration and joy for many, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is fondly remembered as one of the most popular titles of second-generation gaming on the Xbox 360 and PS3. A modern shooter in both name and style, it’s $250 million budget came not from production costs, but from the marketing department. With a huge campaign to rally interest and build upon the first game’s success, it seemed to work, making over $1 billion in profits and selling 15 million copies worldwide.

It’s clear then that the cost of making an AAA game varies wildly, that it doesn’t correspond to quality necessarily, and that the source of such costs is independent of the project. As hardware, tech and capability continue to improve, so too will prices – there are more jobs, more roles, and more possibilities. Whatever the future holds, we can only hope that more cash means more games, and better ones too.