How Much Does It Cost to Make a Triple-A Game? (Updated Prices)

In a recent decision by the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard deal, the staggering costs of AAA game development have come to light. 

With budgets surpassing $1 billion, the expenses of bringing these immersive gaming experiences to life have skyrocketed. In this article, we’ll delve into the breakdown of AAA game costs, explore examples of costly game development projects, examine the record-breaking revenue generated by AAA games, and understand the escalating costs. 

Breakdown of AAA Game Costs

The CMA’s report sheds light on allocating funds to AAA game development. Major franchises often incur development costs exceeding $660 million, with marketing expenses equal to or greater than $550 million. 

These staggering figures highlight the investment required to develop and promote AAA games.

Table 1: Allocation of Funds 

CategoryCost Range
Development Costs$660+ million
Marketing Expenses$550+ million

Examples of Costly Game Development Projects

Several notable game development projects have exemplified the escalating costs associated with AAA games. For instance, CD Projekt RED’s highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 took over a decade to develop and cost $174 million. 

This example showcases the substantial financial investment required to create a game that pushes technological boundaries and aims to deliver an immersive gaming experience.

Record-breaking Revenue from AAA Games

While the costs of developing AAA games have soared, these investments have often yielded record-breaking revenue. Games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Grand Theft Auto V have generated billions in income over their lifetimes (Table 2). 

For example, Grand Theft Auto [1] V has amassed an incredible $6.4 billion, making it one of the most financially successful entertainment products ever. This revenue is a testament to the market demand and consumer interest in high-quality AAA games.

Table 2: Record-breaking Game Revenue

GameTotal Revenue
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Billions
Grand Theft Auto V$6.4 billion
Hogwarts LegacyNearly a billion

Understanding AAA Games

AAA games are characterized by their high production value and ability to provide players with immersive experiences. They feature exceptional graphics, sound design, and gameplay mechanics that captivate audiences. 

The popularity of AAA games can be attributed to various factors. Firstly, their high production values result in visually stunning and technically impressive games that draw players into expansive, detailed worlds. 

Secondly, extensive marketing campaigns and a pre-existing fanbase contribute to the success of AAA games. 

Budget Breakdown in AAA Game Development

The budget for AAA game development is allocated across different stages and expenses. The distribution of funds depends on various factors, including the project’s scope, team size, and technology used. 

Typically, game development encompasses pre-production, production, and post-production stages (Table 4). Additionally, ongoing expenses such as server costs and maintenance are crucial for multiplayer and online components of AAA games.

StagePercentage of Budget
Ongoing Expenses5-10%

Factors Contributing to AAA Game Costs

The escalating costs of AAA game development can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the demand for high-quality graphics and high-resolution assets necessitates significant investment in graphic design, rendering, and optimization. 

Secondly, the cost of tools and licensing fees for software and game engines further contribute to the overall budget. Hiring voice actors and investing in quality assurance processes also incur substantial costs. 

Estimated Cost Range for AAA Game Development

While the costs of AAA game development vary greatly depending on the project, historical examples provide some insight into the financial requirements. 

Early AAA games, such as Tomb Raider (2013) and BioShock Infinite, had development costs ranging from $64-107 million. Recent AAA games, including Red Dead Redemption 2 and Marvel’s Avengers, have witnessed inflated budgets ranging from $291-298 million. 


AAA game development requires substantial resources and careful budget management. Balancing costs and quality is paramount for success. 

As the prices of AAA games continue to rise, developers face an increased burden, emphasizing responsible practices and efficient resource allocation. Game developers can create exceptional AAA games by understanding the factors contributing to escalating costs and implementing strategic financial planning.


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