Gears of War cost $10 million to make. Half-Life 2, $40 million. Grand Theft Auto IV, $100 million. Double Fine’s Costume Quest? $3 million. What do these numbers mean? They’re all development amounts, of which Microsoft’s Don Mattrick has said they’re promising $1 billion toward funding for exclusive games on their new console. It sounds like a lot, but what does that really mean?
Now you’ll need to keep in mind that while this total doesn’t implicitly include marketing budgets, but it includes exclusive deals with third-party developers. My barb in the headline isn’t inaccurate as, no doubt, getting the world’s currently-reigning best-selling franchise to offer some exclusive dole on their console is going to cost them their prettiest penny.
But think about what would happen if they spent $300 million making three triple-A games, then another $100 million developing a scad of smaller, indie releases. In fact, bump that second amount to $200 million. Do we really need another (speculatively) $150 million Halo game? I’m sure Microsoft thinks so, but I’d be fine with a Warthog Brawl downloadable title in which you joust with the series’ ATVs.
With these consoles so incredibly similar in specs and approach, it’s going to take a gaggle of original IP to make either platform stand out. Here’s hoping Microsoft knows how to spend it best.
Hint: Midtown Madness 4.