The Most Expensive Video Games Ever Developed

Video games have become a global phenomenon. It is estimated that there are some 2.7 billion video game players worldwide as of 2020, and, in the US alone, research suggests that around 40% of the population own some sort of console.

Since their invention in the mid-20th century, videos games have been developed to astronomical levels of realism. Game engines such as Frostbite and Unreal have pushed user interface and graphics quality to, in some cases, a practically unnoticeable difference between real life and virtual life.

Sony and Microsoft are leading the way in video game development, themselves realising the most popular consoles of the 2000s – the Xbox and PlayStation series – closely followed by Nintendo’s Wii range. With these huge strides in game development, however, come eye watering costs, with some of the games played on these consoles reaching upwards of 200 million dollars in development fees.

In Q3 of 2020 alone, Sony made around $8 billion in gaming revenue. In the same quarter, Microsoft brought in some $2.5 billion which, whilst markedly less than Sony, is still a massive figure.

The Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider games are three of the most expensive video game franchises ever developed.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was developed by Infinity Ward in 2009 and is estimated to have cost some $250 million to develop. Naturally, it sits high on the list of the most expensive video games of all time. Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider features twice on the list, and Grand Theft Auto also appears twice.

But what makes these games so expensive? This is discussed in more detail in the infographic itself, but one of the main reasons for the gargantuan amount of money spent on producing video games isn’t down to the creation of the software for the games themselves. Rather, it’s spent on marketing.

Video games are constantly being advertised, and at a price. With the market becoming only more competitive, it can become a case of plutocracy – where the richest dominate. After all, the game that is advertised the most is seen by the most people, and thus generates the most revenue.

Most of the games on the infographic show vast sums spent on marketing. How much exactly will be revealed in the data sets themselves, but marketing can in itself reach upwards of $100 million in many cases.

Aside from GTA, CoD and Tomb Raider, who else made the list of the top 20 most expensive video games of all time?

The Most Expensive Video Games Ever Developed

Click on the infographic to view the interactive version.

Rupesh Kumar

First, I am an online marketing professional, as well as a night time gamer with a wide array of interests. Aside from constantly writing about games, I also enjoy writing about my other hobbies such as fitness, cooking, home DIY projects and travel. Contact me at

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