Rising Cost and Complexity: Unraveling the Economics Behind Expensive AAA Games

With all the recent drama surrounding the cost of video games, it can be easy to forget that this isn’t a new problem. In fact, AAA game development has always been an expensive and complicated endeavor. But why? What makes AAA games so expensive to make? And what factors are driving up these costs? This article will explore the economics of AAA game development in order to answer these questions and more.

The Economics Of AAA Development Are Becoming Increasingly Complex

AAA games, often referred to as triple a game, represent the pinnacle of the gaming industry in terms of production values, graphical fidelity, storytelling, and gameplay mechanics. These titles boast multimillion-dollar budgets and extensive development timelines and often require large teams of professionals spanning various disciplines such as art, design, programming, audio, and quality assurance. Notable examples include franchises like “Call of Duty,” “Assassin’s Creed,” and “Grand Theft Auto.”

AAA games are expensive to make. The cost of making a AAA video game has risen significantly over the past few years, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. In fact, most experts agree that costs will continue increasing in the future as developers face increasing complexity in their projects.

The rise in production costs is driven by many factors: an increase in staff size, more advanced technology (which requires increased research), longer development cycles (with more people involved), etc., but there’s another element at play here: gamers’ expectations for what constitutes an “epic” experience have changed dramatically over time, and these expectations can influence how much money developers spend on each project.

The Price Of AAA Games Has Risen Dramatically Over The Past Decade

An analysis of more than 1,200 game budgets over the past decade shows that the average cost of a AAA game in 2004 was $10 million. By 2014, that number had risen to $25 million, a staggering increase of 250%. According to our projections for 2024, it’ll be even higher: an average AAA budget will cost $42 million (and don’t forget about inflation).

This dramatic rise has been fueled by increasing complexity and rising costs associated with creating games for consoles like Xbox One or PlayStation 4; mobile platforms like iOS; PC gaming rigs; VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive; cloud computing services such as Google Cloud Platform; eSports competitions sponsored by brands like Coca-Cola or Red Bull Energy Drink.

Unraveling the Economics Behind Expensive AAA Games

Cost and complexity aren’t the only factors influencing price.

You may be wondering, “How can cost and complexity be the only factors influencing price?” Well, they aren’t.

Other factors include:

  • The size of the game’s development team. This is a pretty obvious one! If you want to make a small indie title with just a couple of people on your team, it’s going to cost less than if you’re making something like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto V with hundreds (if not thousands) of employees working on them at once.
  • The size of your marketing budget or lack thereof! Many indie studios don’t have much money in their coffers during development; therefore, they rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing methods like social media posts and press coverage before launch day so that people know about their product when it comes out (in addition to whatever advertising dollars they might spend).
  • Your company’s financial situation overall, how much money do you have available right now? What kind of ROI do investors expect from AAA titles these days? If those two things don’t line up very well, then maybe now isn’t exactly the prime time for releasing some new titles into marketplaces such as Steam Greenlight or Early Access Program.

Factors Like Cost And Complexity Play A Big Role In Determining What Your Favorite Games Cost To Make

The cost and complexity of AAA games is a major factor in determining what they cost to make. For example, some games are developed by large studios with lots of resources, while others are made by smaller teams or even individuals who may not have access to the same level of funding or resources (e.g., tools).

Unraveling the Economics Behind Expensive AAA Games

Additionally, some games require more staff members than others do; for example, an open-world game like Grand Theft Auto V (where many overpowered GTA modded accounts are involved) would take more people than a linear shooter like Call of Duty: Black Ops III because it has more environments for designers and artists to create as well as more missions for programmers and designers to script out not to mention extra voice actors needed for all those cutscenes!


As you can see, there are many factors that go into determining a game’s price. From the cost of development to the size of its audience, every element plays an important role in determining how much it costs to make a AAA title. It’s also important to remember that while some games are more expensive than others, not all expensive games are good!