We all know video games are expensive to make, and have only increasingly gotten more pricey in recent years.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is costing Square Enix and co. upwards of $135 million to make and ship. That's a ton of cash.
"Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, and other different AAA single-player games, cost $75 million to $100 million," the game's boss David Anfossi told GamesIndustry during a recent interview. "And that's production only; it's close to $35 million on the promotion."
$135 million is a ton of money, and not an amount you would think goes into virtually any game just by looking at it. But it's not a ton of money when you consider other AAA games in recent years. For example, Grand Theft Auto V cost $265 million, and that shipped back in 2013. Granted, GTA V is a more ambitious title, even for back then, but that was 2013. Imagine what GTA V costs making in 2018. Ambition isn't always a key factor though, and sometimes can be misleading.
In the same ballpark of ambition is CD Projekt Red's and 2015 release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which cost only $81 million to make. So there's a ton of factors – beyond mere scope of the product – to consider when looking at the cost of doing business in this industry.
What is behind Shadow Of The Tomb Raider's costs beyond its actual development scope? Well, Eidos Montreal, its developer, is notably over 500 employees large, which is certainly amongst some of the bigger studios in the industry. What Shadow Of The Tomb Raider has going for it that previous releases in the series didn't, is that it is being developed in Quebec, Canada, where Eidos Montreal receives quite a deal of tax credits and benefits from the local government, which in turns helps feed so many mouths. The previous games – which were not helmed by Eidos Montreal – were developed in San Francisco, a very pricey place to conduct business.
Doing a little math, at $135 million (the high-end of total costs), Square Enix and Eidos Montreal would have to sell 2.5 million copies (at $60 a pop) to recoup costs, a figure it should have no problem hitting. Granted, it will likely need to ship more than this, because many will not be copping the game at full price.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is poised to release on September 14th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.