Now that the cat’s out of the bag, the budgets of Horizon Forbidden West and The Last of Us Part II have sparked an intense debate across the games industry. A number of developers have said that despite the profits that these games eventually made, AAA game budgets of $200 million and above aren’t sustainable.
Horizon Forbidden West and The Last of Us 2 were profitable, but are their budgets sustainable?
As spotted by GamesRadar, former Psychonauts 2 developer Lisette Titre-Montgomery pointed out that Sony had to fork out $220 million and employ hundreds of developers over the course of six years before clawing back a single penny, with ex-Capcom producer Shana Bryant adding that this means Sony was spending roughly $15,000 per head, or 3 million in a month.
Bend Studio animator Robert Morrison did some quick math and said that if it takes hundreds of developers to make a game over the course of 4-5 years with an average salary of $100,000 per annum, the aforementioned budgets are understandable. In response, many questioned developer salaries, to which a Bungie dev pointed out that “almost everyone working in games is taking a pay cut.” “If we were to work in other tech fields we’d make much more,” they added.