EA: Game budgets have peaked

25 Aug 2010

According to EA Partners vice-president and group GM David DeMartini, videogame budgets have reached their height and are beginning to decrease.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz at European interactive gaming tradeshow gamescom, DeMartini also spoke about how they budgeted their games.

“I’ll never tell a developer how much their game will cost,” he said.

“They’ll bring it to me and then I’ll evaluate whether or not it makes sense from a business standpoint with regards to the potential of the idea,” DeMartini said.

“If they happen to make a lot of money based on that budget, great for them. If they come up short and have to cover some of it – y’know, they’ll be smarter the next time they do it.

“But I think budgets for games have actually peaked and are starting to move in the reverse direction again. I don’t think there’s any one right budget for any game.” he said.

A recent study from Ibis Capital found that an average Xbox360 or PS3 game can cost between US$15m – US$30m. An average Wii game can cost between US$5m-7m.

Many top titles, however, can go above and beyond that figure. Grand Theft Auto IV was noted as the most expensive game ever made, costing $100m.

However, less expensive social online gaming has risen in popularity.  EA is aware of this, as it recently acquired social game maker Playfish.

The downloadable gaming market is developing too and DeMartini is very enthusiastic about its potential growth.

“In the downloadable games market those are a couple of very strong emerging companies that may well say ‘gee, now I want to take my IP to the main console, do you want to do that?’” said DeMartini.

“And based on success at a lower level, that might be the next step for them.”

DeMartini also emphasised that EA is on the lookout for the next top games makers in the industry.

“The core business model that we always go after is quality and value. Always seeking teams that have had a long-standing history of success, and then always looking for the next emerging group that is going to bust out and potentially be the next Valve or Insomniac,” he said.