Notes on the budget, excitement, and an announcement!

One of the potentially bigta5ggest games in history arrives in a week.

When I say “potentially biggest”, that assumption could not be more true: even though game budgets are a convoluted mess of labour costs and advertising, The Scotsman reported Sunday that the total budget of Grand Theft Auto 5 amounts to £170 million. That’s $265 million USD. Or what’s known as the most expensive game ever made, and the second-most expensive entertainment project after Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The film cost Disney $300 million and made just shy of $1 billion in theatres.

According to The Scotsman Rockstar could overcome those sales, reaching £1 billion. Current exchange rates say that’s $1.33 billion USD. Those figures have some ground: first-day profit for Grand Theft Auto 4 hit $300 million. In one day. It’s also possible that GTA 5 could be profitable right now, a week before the game ships. US pre-orders currently stand at 2.5 million with that number likely to jump in the next week. I couldn’t find European or Asian figures, but it stands to reason global numbers are close.

The business of budget estimating is a murky one though. It may be impossible to completely calculate the total cost of a game, whereas film budgets are usually more steady. The costs of labour and marketing over six years will be swelled figures, but certainly one to notice to grasp the power of Grand Theft Auto as a brand. If a company can work on the assumption a product is going to rake in a billion, it gives them some leeway.

But what makes Grand Theft Auto a behemoth? Why does everyone (including the “media”) flood to GTA? The excitement comes in two parts: a history of controversy; and a legacy unlike most franchises. And about half of a $265 million budget going to overwhelming the masses with advertising. (But the latter is beside the point.)

For legacy, I will refer you all to this list courtesy of The Guardian. It points out thirty important moments in the series’ history. As someone who has played most iterations, the nostalgia hit pretty hard. For the controversy alone, Grand Theft Auto 4 amazingly has its own Wikipedia page. Most links included there mention other games as well.

I’ll be reviewing Grand Theft Auto 5. Just wanted to point that out!

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