BioShock Infinite creative director denies claims game cost $200 million to produce and market

Analysts estimate game development to have cost $100 million; additional $100 million spent on marketing and promotion. [UPDATE]: Creative director Ken Levine refutes the claims.

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According to a >New York Times article citing unnamed analysts, BioShock Infinite may have cost its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, $100 million to develop, with a further $100 million spent to promote and market the game to the public.

BioShock Infinite is the third instalment in the series and has been in development at Irrational Games for four years, with a 200-person team working on the project. The game follows on from 2007's BioShock and 2010's BioShock 2.

The cost of developing games has risen across the board in recent years. Last month, using a "hypothetical profitability model," Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia predicted that Grand Theft Auto V's creation may cost in excess of $137.5 million based on a 250-person team during a five-year development period. An additional $69 million to $109.3 million is expected to be spent in marketing costs to raise awareness for the game.

By comparison, during its six years of production--across four continents and through the hands of more than 800 developers--2011's Star Wars: The Old Republic reportedly cost publisher EA $200 million dollars in development costs alone.

For more on BioShock Infinite, check out GameSpot's hour-long discussion with Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine.

[UPDATE]: BioShock Infinite creative director Ken Levine has tweeted, refuting the claims made by the New York Times report. "200 million for Infinite? Did someone send some checks to the wrong address?"

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of the game declined to provide GameSpot with an official statement clarifying the cost of development.

Discussion

263 comments
Sparhawk122
Sparhawk122

This game will sell and as such cover those costs and more due to it's still very much rising popularity and quality.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

The real story here is that Levine got a FREE, 3 page advertisement in the New York Times buzzing up awareness of the game with the grown-up crowd. Maybe this guy really is smart. 

ernelson1976
ernelson1976

Technically, he didn't refute the point, he just denied it. To refute it, it should have offered some evidence that it wasn't true--but he didn't. I doubt it was $200 million, but there's little doubt that it was a big chunk of change. Unlike EA's budget for SW:TOR, it looks like Bioshock Infinite is at least a somewhat worthy game for such a big budget.

Czrall
Czrall

If this game doesn't sell well, what game will ?!

wezbit
wezbit

I hope it makes the money it deserves, because there are to many games out there taking in money that isn't deserving of it and yes Call of Duty I'm looking at you! But I had a look at the statistics of illegal downloads on torrent and file sharing sites and came up with an estimated figure of 250,000+ pirated downloads of this game! I guess most will not pay full price for the game as many will have completed it within 1 or 2 days and think "well no point in buying it".


hadlee73
hadlee73

There's probably a Take Two accountant, somewhere, right now, telling a shocked-looking Ken Levine "ummm, actually..."

yiangaruuuga
yiangaruuuga

And let's not forget that people who have never played Bioshock or Bioshock 2 will be more prone to purchase those games and any DLC available, which will give Take-Two even more money. (Assuming they buy new, which I doubt lol)

yiangaruuuga
yiangaruuuga

Let's see a high profile game that cost $60 and will sell atleast 2.5 million within a month. That is $150 million dollars. Let's assume that 1 million will buy the season pass. $20 * 1 million = $20 million. By the time all 3 DLC comes out, the game will have an additional 1.5 million with another additional 1 million buying the dlc. This complete total comes to around $290,000,000 million, and this does not include the little transactions for things like avatar and microtransactions. Therefore in it's lifetime, the game will approximately make $100 million in profit.

Act_Chill
Act_Chill

They used the same game engine from the last 2 games so the developers were well skilled with it and the engine was cheap. Why do games spend $60 million on marketing though! That is almost the cost of making it. A good game will be covered by all the game websites and youtube videos for trailers is free...

Doddie
Doddie

who cares what it costs, as long as they keep the price of the game down at retail sale.  I believe most would not gripe about paying a reasonable price for a game if it is good

tightwad34
tightwad34

We have seen countless reports and articles claiming to have news only to be denied by the accused the next day. This is why I don't believe anything I hear or read until I see it for my own eyes.(trusted friends and family excluded)

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

2K have proven time and again that they value quality over quantity. I'm sure whatever the actual cost, it's one they were comfortable with and at least they throw their cash at good, worthwhile projects they believe in while, by all accounts, not trying to stick their nose into every aspect of the creative process.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Ken Levine: "No, it didn't cost $200 million total"

So how much did it cost?

*silence*

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

I have to imagine at some point the "more, more, more/ gimme gimme gimme" schtick is gonna collapse. $250 Million dollar sports contracts, $300 Million dollar movies, some nerd barely out of college makes a computer program and is instantly one of the richest people in the world, every sequal to anything nowadays has to be some god awful over the top mess. I mean look at Skyrim- they dumbed down one the greatest RPG franchises in history so the farmvillers would play.


Somewhere in that random train of thought is a message-what exactly-I don't know. its there just below the surface.

tionmedon
tionmedon

that xplane why they make whole game first then sell half for $60.00, then 5 dlc for $20.00 apiece...................160.00 for full game...............

vadagar1
vadagar1

honestly what if it did??!!


who the F***** cares ??!!!! its not my money so it ain't MY problem now is it?? if its a good game it will sell great if not it will just be another RE6

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

The fact that it came from an analyst should immediately tell everyone to take the comment with a grain of salt.

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

Have these gaming industry "analysts" ever been correct about anything (other than obvious sales topics like "the next  CoD will sell millions")?

CoricidinDXM
CoricidinDXM

How they let these people deliver professional game news is beyond me... the title should read, "BioShock Infinite creative director denies the claims that games cost $200 million to produce and market."  I swear to god, they could have a seventh grader proof read every article on Gamespot and find at least one mistake.... in the title, no less, ha.  


so_hai
so_hai

I though it cost an "Infinite" amount of money to make.

leandrro
leandrro

the last guardian already costed 400 million

lyncer777
lyncer777

JUST GIVE ME THE EFFING GAME ALREADY!

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

Well, it would explain why they made that generic box art to appeal to the masses and had Levine defend it to the moon... They need to make back that money.

couly
couly

70% of statistics are made up. 28% of people know that.

Javier E. Martinez
Javier E. Martinez

I'm going to purchase BioShock Infinite along with Tomb Raider. :)

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

GTA IV costed 130 million. This is probably close to the $100 million dollar range. By no means $200 million overall. That's absurd.

OurSin-360
OurSin-360

A lot of people really have no clue how much it costs to develop AAA title.  200mil is probably pushing it, that's more like SWotR Costs, Bioshock Infinite is probably closer to 100 - 140mil.  I mean seriously people, it costs similiar money to make a FX feature film, and Games have a lot more programming and testing to do added on to the artists, writers, actors, directors etc

Solid_Azeus
Solid_Azeus

I can see how marketing can get that high if they had a Super bowl ad

silvergol
silvergol

BioShock Infinite gonna sell more than 5 millions?

I doubt that will happen!.

virusts32
virusts32

@yiangaruuuga Publishers and developers do not receive all $60 from game purchases. Not even close. They need to make about double the budget to even talk about profit.

Blurry85
Blurry85

@Act_Chill Did anyone say they actually did?  Everything in the article is speculation

thrice00
thrice00

Excatly, ?0-to 100 millions in MArketing!?!? wtf?!

they need 1-2 millions sale more just to break even. Good game gonna sell no need advertising. I've seen 1 million time the Ford F-150 ad all year watching NFL. Well I still don't drive an F-150.

scared7
scared7

@Doddie Maybe you don't care but others do like this info.


Blurry85
Blurry85

@Thanatos2k He isn't the publisher?  I think he's stating it's absurd to think the number is that high. He's got more of an idea than you but that doesnt mean he knows. 

sirkibble2
sirkibble2

@CoricidinDXM Headlines typically leave "the's" and "that's" out whenever possible. But yes, it does read better with those in it. But the fact that you know that means you read the headline just fine. :)

_Silent_Jay_
_Silent_Jay_

@leandrro No it didn't.  Sony isn't going to spend half a billion dollars on a niche game.  The average budget for a AAA game is in the ballpark of $60-$70 million, as they aren't paying out even remotely what they pay for big Hollywood movies, especially when it comes to actors.


MMO's, on the other hand,  cost an arm and a leg to build the network infrastructure to support the gameplay. 

Ruster25
Ruster25

@XboxGuy1537 One production schedule for one AAA game or movie could feed starving Afrikan children for decades. Maybe we should do this instead of just spending 200 million$ on filming them and feeling sorry for them

Lord_OfThe_Sith
Lord_OfThe_Sith

@OurSin-360 Bioshock did not cost 200 million dollars.  That is however the budget they wanted for the Bioshock 1 movie.  You mentioned great things in your post you are forgetting though that voice actors do not make the kind of money Robert Downey Jr. does.

Setho10
Setho10

@OurSin-360 If you combine development and marketing most AAA games cost around $100 million to make. That's something on the scale of Dead Space 3 or Saint's Row The Third (though that was probably done for a bit less). Call of Duty costs about $150 million total, but around $100 million is spent on marketing. The same is true of Battlefield or Halo. MMO's are among the most expensive just because of the sheer amount of content that needs to be made. Bioshock was in development for five years with a team of 200 people. The average salary of a developer is about $70,000 a year. So that's about $70 million over the course of five years just for salaries. Add in hardware, building, and licensing costs and you can add a good $10 million onto that at least. Add in $50 million for marketing and I could see the costs be around $130 million.


FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@silvergol i work in retail and every god damn day people ask me about bioshock infinite. this game will sell well.

petez34
petez34

@silvergol well it depends which figure you believe but Bioshock 1 sold 3.3 million copies so we'll see. If BI flops the dev could stand to lose A LOT of money. I will be eagerly awaiting the user reviews before deciding on a purchase.

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

@virusts32 @yiangaruuuga Yes exactly.  Not all of $60 goes straight to the publisher / developer.  Every person in the chain gets a cut.  Microsoft / Sony for DLC on their platform, the game stores like gamestop get a markup, etc. etc. al.

Hopefully Infinite'll do well though.

Devils-DIVISION
Devils-DIVISION

@sirkibble2 @CoricidinDXM

You are right, sirkib, in that titles are, for the most part always suspiciously terse. But that shouldn't be an excuse for literary laziness and ignorance, especially if you claim to be a journalist, even if an amateur one.

Act_Chill
Act_Chill

@Setho10 @OurSin-360 I wonder where the $50 million goes for marketing. I have no clue why game companies spend to much on marketing. If they did video game conventions like E3, youtube videos, and press released to video game sites like Gamespot, that isnt that expensive....

petez34
petez34

I usually wipe my ass with pro reviews. I'll wait for users that play the game.