Analysis Business
July 03, 2023

Developing Top Video Games Can Cost Hundreds of Millions, But What Does it Take to Create Blockchain Games?

In Brief

AAA games are known for their staggering development budgets, exemplified by notable titles such as Grand Theft Auto V, which cost $265 million, and Horizon Forbidden West which exceeded $212 million in expenses.

Web3 games, incorporating features like play-to-earn and NFTs, have varying development costs depending on the complexity, ranging from $15,000 for basic games to over $300,000 for AAA blockchain games.

The development of AAA games has long been synonymous with exorbitant budgets. However, as blockchain technology continues to impact various industries, it has opened up a new realm for game development. Blockchain games, leveraging decentralized and transparent technology, are capturing the attention of developers and players alike.

World’s top games are video games produced and distributed by a large studio with a huge budget and high-quality production values. The games usually feature high-end visuals, deep gameplay, and extensive marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, games that use blockchain technology create decentralized and secure gaming experiences. Blockchain games can offer benefits such as digital ownership, transparency, interoperability, and other innovative features. 

Developing Top Video Games Can Cost Hundreds of Millions, But What Does it Take to Create Blockchain Games?

Cost and Resources for Creating AAA Games

According to BR Softech, on average, the cost to develop AAA games ranges from $60 million to $80 million with basic and mid-level features and functionalities. However, such games cost may reach $100 million and even more with advanced and high level of features and graphics. Here are a few notable examples and their budgets:

  • Grand Theft Auto V by Rockstar Games, released in 2013: $265 million (adjusted for inflation: $291 million)
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic by Electronic Arts, LucasArts released in 2011: $200+ million (adjusted for inflation: $227+ million)
  • Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar Games, released in 2010: $80-100 million (adjusted for inflation: $94-117 million)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by CD Projekt, released in 2015: $81 million (adjusted for inflation: $87 million)

Last week, confidential documents revealing Sony’s PlayStation game budgets, earnings, and headcounts were shared with the public. The documents revealed that Horizon Forbidden West cost $212 million and required 300 employees over five years. The Last of Us Part II had a budget of $220 million and involved 200 workers. Moreover, Call of Duty accounted for $800 million of PlayStation’s revenue in 2021.

Developing top video games is a costly and complex endeavor that requires a large team of skilled professionals and a significant amount of time. The games are expected to deliver high levels of immersion, realism, and innovation to the players, which justifies their high production costs. Moreover, the games mentioned above have millions of players. According to a report from 2021, Call of Duty alone has over 425 million unit lifetime sales.

How Much Does It Cost to Create a Blockchain Game?

Web3 has emerged as a highly profitable sector in the gaming industry, offering new features like play-to-earn and the incorporation of NFTs. While designing and developing web3 games is similar to traditional games, there are extra resources associated with integrating these games into a blockchain network.

As reported by Risingmax, while AAA blockchain game development cost is the highest – starting at around $300,000 – other games are cheaper to make. Basic games have a $15,000 budget, while hyper-casual games tend to require a slightly higher investment, starting from $25,000. 

Casual games generally demand a budget of at least $50,000, while mid-core games’ starting costs are around $70,000. Finally, to create hardcore gaming experiences, budgets can range from $100,000.

According to blockchain developer Shukhrat Shadibekov, simple 2D blockchain games like CryptoMonster, CryptoKitties, and Go are not expensive to create – up to $20,000. Larger games like Zombie Battleground, Augmentors, and Yggdrasil Beyond the Void require much more investment: up to $300,000, some – $1 million.

Suffescom wrote, “The average web3 game development cost varies between $60,000 to $80,000.” Distinguished similarly stated that the development cost for a blockchain game application, encompassing advanced features and providing a comparable user experience, typically falls within the $50,000 to $60,000 range.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop Blockchain AAA Games?

While precise figures regarding the development budgets of blockchain gaming companies remain undisclosed, fundings secured from investors can give some insights. The development budget has various expenditures, including salaries, equipment, software, and other necessary costs to bring a game to life. 

On the other hand, funding received refers to the capital raised from investors or alternative sources to support a project. While this funding can indeed mean allocation towards development-related expenses, it may also serve broader organizational objectives, such as marketing initiatives or corporate expansion, extending beyond the game itself.

AAA Blockchain GameFunding ReceivedEmployee Number
Shrapnel$7.6 million1-10
Axie Infinity$9 million11-50
Star Atlas$10.8 million11-50
Phantom Galaxies$19.3 million11-50
Heroic Story$7.4 million1-10
Karmaverse$8 million1-10
Source: Crunchbase

Blockchain technology has enabled a new wave of AAA games developed by much smaller teams with less funding than traditional games. These games leverage decentralization, fostering transparency and innovation. They also benefit from reduced costs, faster production cycles, and increased creative freedom compared to centralized counterparts. By using decentralized networks and smart contracts, blockchain games eliminate the need for expensive infrastructure, licensing fees, and intermediaries. This streamlines development, allowing easier updates and greater ownership of unique in-game assets.

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About The Author

Agne is a journalist who covers the latest trends and developments in the metaverse, AI, and Web3 industries for the Metaverse Post. Her passion for storytelling has led her to conduct numerous interviews with experts in these fields, always seeking to uncover exciting and engaging stories. Agne holds a Bachelor’s degree in literature and has an extensive background in writing about a wide range of topics including travel, art, and culture. She has also volunteered as an editor for the animal rights organization, where she helped raise awareness about animal welfare issues. Contact her on [email protected].

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Agne Cimerman
Agne Cimerman

Agne is a journalist who covers the latest trends and developments in the metaverse, AI, and Web3 industries for the Metaverse Post. Her passion for storytelling has led her to conduct numerous interviews with experts in these fields, always seeking to uncover exciting and engaging stories. Agne holds a Bachelor’s degree in literature and has an extensive background in writing about a wide range of topics including travel, art, and culture. She has also volunteered as an editor for the animal rights organization, where she helped raise awareness about animal welfare issues. Contact her on [email protected].

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