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The cost of developing video games

How much does it cost to create a game for the next-gen consoles? The number might surprise a lot of people. 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is estimated to have cost around $50 million to make. The developers at Sony's Polyphonic Digital Inc. have reportedly spent around $60 million for its recently delayed Gran Turismo 5 game.

According to M2 Research, the average single-platform video game costs a studio about $10 million. Studios hoping to spread the love by going multi-platform see that average rise to $18 million.

When the Xbox 360 first hit the market, some gamers were alarmed to see the average price of console games go up from $49.99 to $59.99. It was only a matter of time. With development costs rising, store prices had to follow suit. 

Last December, Wired Magazine published an article about Duke Nukem Forever's failure to materialize. The game's development restarted over and over until the money ran dry. By May of 2009, the studio had spent $20 million with no release in sight and closed shop. 

In many cases, the cost of developing a game may stifle innovation and creativity as studios focus efforts on releasing mainstream fare that brings in profits. Fan favorites like Shadow of the Colossus and the critically acclaimed Panzer Dragoon Saga may never get sequels because they won't bring in enough money. 

The future of video games looks bright as studios look to create non-conventional gaming experiences. Unfortunately, the bottom line dictates to what extent companies will go out on a limb. After all, money doesn't grow on trees.


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