Shadow Of The Tomb Raider Cost $99-$133 Million To Make, Eidos Says

Video game budgets are higher than they have ever been, and the new Tomb Raider is yet another example of that inflation, helping illustrate why big publishers are so desperate to get players to spend more than $80 on their games.

"Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and other different AAA single-player games, cost $75 million to $100 million [$AU99 million to $AU133 million]," Anfossi told the trade website GamesIndustry.biz in a recent interview. "And that's production only; it's close to $35 million ($AU46 million) on the promotion."

$US135 million ($179 million) may sound like a ton of money to sink into a video game - and it is - but from everything we've seen, that's actually on the lower end of the spectrum for top-tier video games in 2018.

With some napkin maths and a monthly estimate of $US10,000 ($13,275) per month per employee, you can see how budgets can creep past $US200 million ($265 million) or even higher. (For example, a team of 450 working on a game for four years might equate to 450 x 48 x 10,000, or $US216 million [$286 million].)

In higher-cost areas such as San Francisco, that $US10,000 ($13,275) estimate might be significantly higher.

Also consider that of the $80 players will spend on a brand new physical video game, a publisher might only see around $40. (A digital game, in comparison, might net its publisher around $56 per sale.)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider's development is not in fact happening in San Francisco (like the last two Tomb Raider games), but in Montreal, where its lead developer Eidos Montreal benefits from tax credits from the Quebec government. That's undoubtedly how the studio can comfortably support 500+ employees (a stat that Anfossi shared with GamesIndustry.biz).

In addition to the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which comes out in September, Eidos Montreal is working on a game based on Guardians of the Galaxy.

You may be wondering: How is any of this sustainable? How can the video game industry, already renowned for its brutal hours and difficult work conditions, support constantly inflating budgets, a flat product cost, and a constant trickle of veterans burning out and leaving vacancies for senior staff in their wake? I, too, am wondering this.


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    You may be wondering: How is any of this sustainable? How can the video game industry, already renowned for its brutal hours and difficult work conditions, support constantly inflating budgets, a flat product cost, and a constant trickle of veterans burning out and leaving vacancies for senior staff in their wake? I, too, am wondering this.

    And yet, they keep saying that games are so "expensive" to make.

    Maybe be more realistic about the marketing budget?

    Seriously, the amount allocated is at least around one third allocated the development. Which doesn't feel right to me at all.

      something to ask though is how much of that money is more allocated to getting an A list Celeb to do a bit part (looking at you Bethesda with Liam and Patrick in FO3 and Oblivion) or to add in mircotrasions and loot boxes. Do you really need a team of 1000 like Ubisoft when a Team of 30 is enough. and when it comes to Crunch Time, do you really need to put out another sequel the very next year ( CoD, Battlefield etc).

      what i find extremely crazy though is the 35million on marketing for Shadow as there's currently been fuck all marketing since the press release last week and lets not forget that almost every site basically said the same thing with exact same complaints. That to me screams that Square has been extremely inefficent with their money

      Also make the games smaller. Not every game has to chew up 60 hours of my life. If they were all half as long then I'd buy twice as many.

        If it is half as long with the same price, you would be complaining the games are too short for the price. Moot argument imo.

        Last edited 12/05/18 2:15 pm

          No, I wouldn't. I'm perfectly happy with a 10 - 20 hour single player campaign. I don't need 40 /60 /100 + hours. There's rarely any more actual gameplay in those games than in the 10 - 20 hour ones, it's just the same amount of game spread across more hours.

      Well license for advertisement for each country, printing materials for each country, different advertising agencies, this article.

      Every single thing you can see about shadow of tomb raider is an advertisement that is paid.

      I don't see how the amount can be reduced if they aim for big exposure. Tv advertisement itself at prime slot running for months could potentially cost million, that is for one country.

        The best advertising I had as a kid was a demo.

        Didn't cost much but I don't see them coming back soon.

          Right and how do you get the demo? I don't think it magically appears in front of your house.

            Still cheaper to have it shipped on the cover of a magazine or as a simple download than to splurge on marketing and trying to bribe reviewers to keep the score above 8.5.

              Back then it probably cost 1/3 of their funding to put it to magazines. Right now it just expanded to all sorts of advertising.

              Not to mention the extra amount of development time and cost to make a demo.

              Just like meal out was probably $1 back then and now it cost $10. You really can't be expecting things to stay the same from many years ago.

                Back then it probably cost 1/3 of their funding to put it to magazines. Right now it just expanded to all sorts of advertising.

                And who's problem is that? If anything it only furthers what I'm implying.

                Games are only "expensive" to make due to bad choices.

                A good game only needs a good demo (which is already paid for as part of development), and is even cheaper now to make available thanks to the Internet, and the game will sell itself.

                A good game does not need a excessive, multi-million dollar marketing budget.

                Just like meal out was probably $1 back then and now it cost $10. You really can't be expecting things to stay the same from many years ago.

                That's most inflation than cost of creation.

                And before anyone points out that the price of games has not gone up with the cost of inflation, the baking in of micro-transactions and DLC means game price didn't need to rise with inflation, the have the second revenue stream anyway.

                In fact some games, the real price should be zero given the nature of micro-transactions but that is getting into another topic.

                And this is starting to stall so I'll make my closing remark and move on.

                If games like Tomb Raider cost around 100 million to make, then it had better be a good game. Then it will sell itself and not need a redundant marking budget.

                If marking hyper marking is needed as well as reviewer embargoes, then the game must not be good after all so one should ask, "If the game is so bad it needs these measures and marketing, then why is 100 million being invested to make it in the first place?"

                  Games are only "expensive" to make due to bad choices.
                  A good game does not need a excessive, multi-million dollar marketing budget.

                  Wow. I have no words. How many people do you think working at Eidos? You think the developers work for free? Put in at average 65k per annum with their current employee count of 500, that is easily 35m a year. Those are included in the cost of making the game.

                  A good game that want sales will NEED the marketing. Without exposure means no sales. No company will take the risk of game not selling because lack of advertisement. They are not indies, they have 500 employees to take care of, shareholders to please.

                  Please understand the difference between indie studio and AAA studio. What you are asking for will make those companies go under.

                  You think a demo is made during the production? A game isn't finished until it has shipped, and then it might steel need some patches. A lot of this "extra moneyspending" goes to exactly demos. Every "playable demo" you hear mentioned from events like E3 need to be custom built, and often use only passable code that will have to be discarded if the developer wants a stable game in the end. Several hundred thousands of budget-dollars go to making these demos with content that do not appear in the final game. If you want to publish a "public" demo, that come with a magazine or can be downloaded online, you can't have shoddy code in it. You need to spend hundreds of workdays from the budget to plan it, make the art, produce the score, get foley, have it animated, get it coded, get it through QA and then you can publish.

                  Publishers and developers sit on a lot of good data on this. If the cost-per-sale of demos were better than conventional advertising we would have a lot more demos on the market today. The only games who have pre-release demos these days are games that have been in development for ages, and already have a lot of content made.

      From what I understand a marketing budget usually covers the full life of a game, including all DLC's.
      Often the bulk of the marketing is handled by outside firms meaning wages over an extended period, production and manufacturing costs etc.
      More importantly they aren't just handed 35 mill outright, that would include bonuses paid when/if certain metrics are achieved and as with most budgets they are expected in come in well under the allocated amount.

    The N64 typically rendered 180,000 polygons per second, whilst the PlayStation pushed 360,000 to 500,000 per second.

    Still that's no reason for producers to introduce dodgy borderline illegal money making practices into their game. I look at it like the australian health department.
    Doesn't matter how many budget cuts we have or how badly utilised the budget is. You're average patient has an expectation that they are going to be safe, well treated and looked after to the best of the staffs ability.

    Don't care!

    I don't care about their return investments, that's the problem for the investors.

    I don't care how expensive it is to make, they obviously still think they can turn a profit or they wouldn't be making the game. If they go bust they probably shouldn't be making games in the first place (see kingdom alamur).

    What I do care about is a fun experience unsullied by horrid milking methods such as loot boxes and psychologicaly manipulative technique.

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