GTA V Is The Most Expensive, But Will It Make The Most Money?
In April of 2008, it was announced that Grand Theft Auto IV was one of the most expensive videogames to develop. It was reported that the game cost Rockstar around $100-million USD, where it went on to sell a whopping 25-million copies worldwide, over four years.
Grand Theft Auto IV had over 1,000 people working on it, for a period of three and a half years. If we eliminate the $100-million marketing costs from Final Fantasy VII, which cost $45-million to develop, it would have been the most expensive game. Simply put: GTA IV is up there, as one of the most expensive games.
Within the first year of release, Grand Theft Auto IV sold roughly 15-million copies worldwide, meaning they made their money back plus a lot of profit.
Fast-forward five years, and we’re on track for Grand Theft Auto V.
GTA V was originally scheduled for a May/June release, where this has officially been extended to September, all because Rockstar wants the game to be as good as possible. And rightly so, as they’ve invested a lot of time and money into the project.
But just how much time and money?
A report has stated that the game is already estimated to cost a massive $137.5-million, which paid for five years of development from 250 employees — a worker-count significantly lower than that of the previous GTA. Following that, it is expected that this amount will continue to increase as the September delay will require more work to be done.
Therefore, the game already costs more than the previous GTA and we’ve still got to wait a good seven, plus, months for the title.
Then, after that, it is projected that marketing costs will fall between $69-million and $109.3-million. Add that to the development costs, and we’ve got ourselves a really, really expensive game. Fortunately, Rockstar knows that GTA is always good for free publicity from major tabloids that love sensation.
Because, GTA V: The Return Of The Prostitute Killing Game.
Add development costs to marketing costs and free publicity, and we’re definitely looking at an expensive, if not the most expensive, videogame of 2013. It’s still a hundred, or so, million away from the largest and most expensive game which is TERA Online, a game that reportedly cost $400-million in 2011.
Effectively, Rockstar and Take-Two are playing around with a $250-million game. They’ve got a lot on the line, and they’re really confident that it will pay off. Rightly so, too, as GTA IV sold 25-million times in four years. Massive sales means that the successor’s purchases should be equally as high. Not to mention, GTA IV scored really high review scores on many publications.
Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia believes that Take-Two is in a good place. Bhatia believes that if GTA V can sell 15-million times in the first year, the company will make more than $193.6-million in operating profits, where if it sells more than 25-million times in the first year, profits will be set at $390.8-million. Bhatia, however, estimates a sales amount of 18-million units in the fiscal year.
Furthermore, it’s believed that GTA V will be the biggest selling game of the year, where the only thing which could beat it is the upcoming Call of Duty title. Luckily, Grand Theft Auto V is scheduled to release just before the crowded holiday period, where it might be able to snatch sales before the release period heats up.
With a sales price of R729, locally, a September release is definitely needed to preempt the busy holiday period. PC versions of the game have also not yet been confirmed, so that’s over 100-million in console development. If Take-Two and Rockstar really want to have the best game of the year, they’re going to need to release on as many platforms as possible, to give gamers what they really want. It will be a shame for the game’s reputation to be tarnished with complaints that it did not meet everyone’s gaming criteria, as we’re not very interested in another type of petition or political issue because the game did not release on PC.
With a minimum of 15-million sales predicted for the first year, $193-million in profit will be more than welcomed. It’s entirely possible that over the years, GTA V outsells its predecessor and makes even more money. After all, this might be the last really big game you’ll be able to play on your current generation console.
Isn’t that a good way to end the cycle?