5 Most Expensive Video Game Marketing Campaigns
A video game without a strong marketing campaign doesn't count for much these days. Without a cascade of promotional previews and hype to boot, a project is more or less destined to fail. A voiceless carcass without the drive to be heard, so to speak. And it's a risk, to inject money into a campaign that may or may not turn enough heads to flip a profit. But it's a risk that many, even to this day, take without giving it so much as a second thought.
Giving a video game a voice is a sure-fire way to get the crowds invested, if only for the short haul. It's figuring out how much to spend on developing said voice, that's the question. That said, money clearly wasn't an issue for these five hungry-eyed creators. These are, if you can believe, five of the most expensive marketing campaigns in gaming to date.
5. Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077 was once billed as the most anticipated action role-playing game of all time. Makes sense, what with CD Projekt Red having a rich history of developing award-winning video games. The final result of this, however, wasn't quite up to the same standards as The Witcher 3. If anything at all, it was a complete and utter shambles, and an all-round poor excuse for a triple-A title.
Long before the game released, CD Projekt actually forked somewhere over $100 million on marketing alone. As well as it being one of the most expensive games to develop, its campaign was also fleshed out with millions of dollars in funding. This eventually wound up becoming a double-edged sword, with the vast majority of players requesting a refund following its launch. And even to this day, CD Projekt still hasn't fully recovered from the trainwreck of 2020.
4. Final Fantasy VII
In 1997, Square Enix fought tooth and nail to port its Japanese-based saga over to the North American market. Upping sticks and finding an audience across the pond, of course, meant spending a whole lot of money on marketing the soon-to-be-be internationally renowned franchise. A cool $100 million, to be exact.
Of course, funneling such a large amount of money into the campaign eventually paid off, with Final Fantasy VII going on to revolutionize the role-playing format on all corners of the globe. JRPGs finally had a voice, and it was because of Square's bold decision to up the ante that it succeeded. Several games, spin-offs, and expansions later, and Final Fantasy finally secured its place as one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time.
3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Call of Duty is, without a doubt, one of the biggest and highest-grossing video game franchises of all time. Though, without Activision around to flush copious amounts of cash into keeping it afloat, it probably wouldn't be the pillar of excellence that it is today. And it's because of entries like Modern Warfare, of course, that the series retains such an outstanding reputation.
Let it be said that the Modern Warfare subseries is by far one of the most important cash cows under Activision's wing. Because of this, a strong marketing campaign is an essential part of any venture. Modern Warfare II, for one, set the celebrated developer back by $200 million in marketing. The game, at least on its own, only cost around $50 to develop, further proving that the price of a voice is far more than the carcass.
2. Grand Theft Auto V
It's no surprise that Rockstar Games adore the idea of being able to inject overwhelmingly large amounts of cash into funding its projects. In fact, there isn't a single game in its portfolio that hasn't received a huge intake of coin. Grand Theft Auto V, though, takes the absolute biscuit, with a rough $275 million flushed into its marketing campaign, and another $137 million into its development.
It is worth noting, of course, that Rockstar has made far more than this in its ten-year stretch just from shipped units alone. Take into account the billions of dollars that it accumulates from Grand Theft Auto Online each month, and you've got yourself a multi-billion dollar empire. To that end, a flimsy $275 million in marketing doesn't seem all that bad. That is, if you're Rockstar Games.
Looking to capitalize on the flourishing sci-fi action role-playing empire, Bungie worked to develop Destiny, an always-online open world game that strived to become the be all, end all of modern RPGs. To achieve such a monumental feat, though, the hungry-eyed developer had to plunge quite deeply into its pockets. And what came out of those pockets, believe it or not, was a good $500 million.
Developing the game, if you can believe, wasn't what ate into the ludicrously high budget, though. In fact, building Destiny from the ground up only set the studio back by a rough $140 million, with the remaining $360 million being used to market the product. All in all, this makes the MMORPG one of the most expensive video games to date. Question is, did it pay off in the long run? Well, yes and no. The fact is, there are far better alternatives out there — and ones that's spent half the budget, too.
So, what's your take? Are there any ridiculously expensive games we should know about? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.