jdreyer wrote on Nov 21, 2017, 15:38:
Games are also orders of magnitude more expensive to make. In 1995 the gaming press was astounded by the cost of making Wing Commander IV: $10M. Today, AAA games are much more expensive: a Call of Duty costs around $100-150M to make, Knights of the Old Republic cost $200M, Battlefield 4 cost $100M, etc. And none of those numbers includes marketing, which typically double the cost.
Not necessarily true. Some games are more expensive to make now than before. Other games are far cheaper. Shiness was made for under $200,000 while Final Fantasy VII was made for $45 million and both of them are large-scale RPGs. Shiness had a tiny team and managed to make a fairly impressive looking game.
Tech has gotten way cheaper, licensing has gotten cheaper, distribution has gotten cheaper. Thanks to advancements like photogrammetry and 3D scanning you can create photorealistic graphics with a few tools and a small team, as evident with games like Obduction and Hellblade (the latter of which only had to sell around 50,000 to break even).
Also, Call of Duty's $100 million budget isn't all in the game production. Activision spends between $50 and $100 million to market the game. Same thing with EA and Battlefield. Back in 2011 both companies spent upwards of $100 million to market Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. There's a Forbes article that breaks down the financials.
Most mid-budget games that are still magnitudes bigger and better looking than games made back in the 1990s can be made for anywhere between $1 million and $10 million. A lot of games reaching up into the $50 million+ territory are oftentimes leveraged by Hollywood talent, expansive marketing budgets or pure mismanagement like in the case of Mass Effect: Andromeda.