Poorly redacted documents published as part of the ongoing court battle between Microsoft and the US Federal Trade Commission over the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard accidentally revealed the budgets of two major Sony Interactive Entertainment sequels. According to the documents, The Last of Us Part II and Horizon Forbidden West each cost over $200 million to develop.
The published documents originally contained redacted information such as team sizes, budgets and development time on PlayStation’s blockbuster titles but upon closer inspection by The Verge journalist Tom Warren, it was discovered that Sony’s lawyers had “redacted” the information poorly by scratching them out with a pen. The numbers were still clearly visible after being scanned, revealing that the aforementioned sequels’ budgets exceeded $200 million.
The documents revealed a couple of interesting bullet points about these games. The Last of Us Part II‘s budget was $220 million and was worked on by around 200 people for over five years, while Horizon Forbidden West‘s budget was $212 million and was worked on by 300 people for five years.
Most publishers often don’t disclose the exact development budgets of AAA games so this is the first time that Sony Interactive Entertainment’s massive figures were revealed, albeit accidentally, for its first-party heavy-hitters. These figures likely don’t factor in the non-development costs of the games such as marketing and promotional material, so the overall budget in the end could be much higher.
As many commenters pointed out, these titles were considered financial successes by Sony meaning that profits earned surpassed the overall cost of development, which explains why Sony is so confident in its decision to continue with its current business model of not releasing exclusives day one on PlayStation Plus like Xbox Game Pass.
If this is a peak behind the curtain for the development costs of AAA games, we can’t even begin to imagine what the budget must be like for Grand Theft Auto 6.
Source: Tom Warren