According to a new report, big AAA games like Call of Duty can take over $250 million to develop, plus more for marketing.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently blocked the Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard merger because of concerns about the future of cloud gaming. In a report on the decision, lots of interesting details about the production of AAA games were revealed. Included in the report was the revelation that major gaming publishers can spend up to $1 billion to develop and market games. But how does that break down exactly?
Well, according to the report, AAA games greenlit for a release in 2024 or 2025 can have development budgets upwards of $200 million. The report claims that Call of Duty already has amassed a massive $300 million developmental budget; however, it’s unclear what Call of Duty, exactly, this budget refers to. It could be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, but it could also refer to the next Call of Duty game currently expected for late 2023. However, the report on to detail the massive marketing costs for a game like Call of Duty.
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According to the report, marketing costs for major publishers can cost absurd amounts of money. One publisher reportedly spent upwards of $550 million dollars on marketing. If you combine that with, for example, Call of Duty’s $300 million budget, the two together equal nearly $1 billion in terms of both development and marketing. Conceivably, the next Call of Duty that comes to market could have cost Activision nearly a billion dollars.
Activision was quoted in the report as saying, “We have to make so much content for Call of Duty that we can’t even lean on one lead studio anymore,” continuing, “Now we need almost 1.5 lead studios for each annual CoD. That kind of bandwidth pressure is forcing us to use outsourcers more and more. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.” Put simply, Call of Duty takes an extraordinary amount of manpower and money to get out the door.
Where’s all that money and manpower going this year? It was originally reported that Call of Duty was going to skip out on 2023, but more recent reports suggest that a new full, premium Call of Duty game will be released in 2023. However, that’s currently just a rumor, so we’ll all have to wait and see.