$500 Million Doesn't Guarantee a Good Game - Destiny's Budget Explored

By Published June 16, 2014 at 11:28 am

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick recently announced that the publisher allotted Bungie $500 million to make their next game, Destiny. To put this into perspective, Watch Dogs had a budget of $68 million, Battlefield 4 had a budget of nearly $100 million, and Grand Theft Auto V’s budget was a staggering $265 million. But if we’re using these games as examples, maybe Destiny’s $500 million budget starts to seems reasonable; after all, Watch Dogs is plagued by bugs, amongst its other substantial problems and Battlefield 4 has little to show for all the money spent on it. Meanwhile, Grand Theft Auto V’s previously massive-looking-budget earned the game a tremendous $1 billion in sales and -- compared to the other two -- it actually works! Money, then, surely must solve all problems.

So maybe it takes $250 million to make a game that works properly, but Destiny getting twice that amount certainly seems insane. This $500 million isn’t just for developing the game itself, but according to Kotick, it’s meant to cover development, production, and advertising. More importantly, this is not just an investment Activision is making with one game in mind -- they’ve got a long-term objective. If the hope is for Destiny to be another successful franchise, then the large budget looks reasonable when taking into account the creation of a new IP, building a new engine, and establishing the game against fierce competition in the world of console FPS games.

But what if throwing massive amounts of money around isn’t what it takes to make good games? Shocker.

Metro 2033 was built on but a portion of what any of the previously-mentioned games used, and I have to think it turned out pretty well (and playable -- a bonus). Granted, Metro was neither a blockbuster nor an MMO, two things Destiny wants to be. But the story of Metro 2033, the little game that could, really makes me wonder about the ever-increasing budgets of mainstream video games.

The increasing budgets of games seems perfectly rational when considering the extraordinary growth of the video gaming industry in recent years; however, when games are released preemptively with bugs and missing parts meant to be sold as DLC later -- or worse, upon release -- it leads me to wonder what these budgets are being used for. I find it hard to believe that it costs over $100 million to make a game that works.

With Activision sinking $500 million into Destiny, I would hope that it would be a ground-breaking, genre-defining, earth-shattering work of art, but from what I’ve been reading and seeing (through streams of the game), that simply does not seem to be the case. Looks like a shooter with pretty graphics. I guess we can call it a good thing that I haven’t been hearing about too many bugs or any outrageous problems, but given the enormous budget, that merely seems adequate. “Halo mixed with Borderlands” is hardly what I’d call a $500 million game.

Destiny's release date is September 9, 2014.

- Keegan "HornetSting" Gallick.

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