BioShock Infinite: $100m to develop, $100m to market

"It's getting harder to ask someone to spend $60 on something" - Levine

A report by the NY Times is suggesting that 2K Games' BioShock Infinite has cost $100 million to make with another $100 million on top for marketing expenses.

Citing an unnamed analyst, the report details the project's four-year development by a team of 200 staff ahead of its release next week.

The high costs in both development and marketing are to ensure success in the third title in the series. Because according to Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine, "it's getting harder to ask someone to spend $60 on something that's merely a good effort."

According to Sterne Agee, BioShock Infinite could ship as many as three million units this month.

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Latest comments (10)

Stephan Schwabe Multichannelmanagement, Telefonica6 years ago
When i see this cover of Bioshok Infinite always remember the movie "Johnny got his gun". Sometimes i have the feeling games marketing is caught in the 90's wher Tarantino sayd: Put a gun on the tabel and you have a story.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
Staff of 200, 4 year development, $100 million the average salary at 2K Marin and Irrational $125,000?

At best, the budget is closer to $60 million.

Hang on, that $200 million ($100 development + $100 marketing) comes from an unnamed analysts. Never mind.
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Sometimes I wonder if our industry is heading in the right direction...
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
Agreed, Andreas. But those expenses should never be a 3:2 ratio with your staff overhead. Unless the majority of your project is outsourced to begin with.

Looking at the original Bioshock, and many other large projects, the figures here just don't make much sense. Bioshock itself had a team of 100 and a 4 year development schedule. But a budget of only $15 million. Double the staff, account for inflation and wage increases, add in the extras and that should put it around $50-60 million.

I think this is a case of another analysts throwing numbers out.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers6 years ago
It's probably an exaggeration - still many millions but $100 million is the realm of a new GTA game where an entire open world city is created from the ground up. Even if the total is closer to $100 million for both marketing and development, that's still quite a mint.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters6 years ago
The cost to a company of an employee is a hell of a lot more than just their salary, Jim. Insurance, training, equipment, software licences, cost of running the building, recruitment fees...
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Jolon Bankey President, Mysterious Development6 years ago
Yes precisely. Salaries are only the absolute tippy tip of the iceberg.

You also have to take all of the overhead, admin staff, oop costs, CapEx, etc, etc ETC and come up with an overhead multiplier if you wanted to actually figure it out, and it's really not worth it if not your headache to begin with.
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Andres Bordeu Game Designer / Cofounder, ACE Team6 years ago
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Brett Caird Production Director/Founder, 5th Cell6 years ago
$10k/head/month is a pretty good estimate of total economic cost of AAA development in North America taking into account all hidden costs and overheads. 200 people for 4 years would come out to $96m using that rule of thumb.

The reason I don't believe that much was actually spent on development is because I don't believe 200 people were devoted to the project for the entire 4 years. My vote goes with the other people here guessing closer to $50m in dev costs.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters6 years ago
I was just about to say that Brett, games tend to ramp up the team size as they get nearer to the end and so the team may have been 200 by the end, but probably not for most of the development time.
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