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The Last of Us Part II and Horizon Forbidden West cost $200M+ each to make

Much like play, budget has no limits, but maybe it should.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 28, 2023

2 Min Read
Ellie in Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II.

Individual development costs for PlayStation's The Last of Us Part II and Horizon Forbidden West were over $200 million. 

A new document from Sony revealed during the Microsoft v. FTC trial was not properly redacted, in turn showing how much it costs to create a triple-A PlayStation exclusive. And it's likely that numbers for other studios of this caliber, like Microsoft and EA, are in a similar budget position. 

Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II released in 2020 for the PlayStation 4, and cost $220 million. Development reportedly took 70 months (or very nearly six years), having started in 2014, a year after the release of the original Last of Us

Meanwhile, Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West cost $212 million to make over its five-year development period. Sony's document notes that the game has "close to" 9 million players on PlayStation following its early 2022 release on PS4 and PlayStation 5. 

However, it's noted that at least a third of Forbidden West's player count likely stems from its PlayStation Plus debut in February. In May, Sony revealed the title sold 8.4 million copies. 

The Last of Us Part II is noted as "still profitable," but a similar verdict was not given to Forbidden West.

Someone who is good at economy, please help me budget PlayStation

The development budget of both games is noteworthy since PlayStation's first-party games are so clearly expensive to make. Several of them even hire big-name actors such as Jeffrey Wright (Last of Us II) and Richard Schiff (God of War Ragnarok). 

PlayStation's cinematic prestige has made nearly all of its exclusives a big deal unto themselves, in a way that's different from Nintendo's family-focused series or Microsoft's Netflix-like lineup. And these numbers may help to reveal why PlayStation chose to charge $70 for exclusives when the PS5 launched. 

That said, this focus come with some drawbacks for PlayStation, primarily in the budget. In 2021, a Bloomberg report revealed that several developers at these first-party studios admitted that they feel like these games are becoming increasingly unwieldy to make.

Keep in mind, this is for two titles attached to two big PlayStation franchises. Other first-party series such as Sony Santa Monica's God of War and Insomniac's Spider-Man (and also Ratchet & Clank) likely have budgets for their newer installments that are in the same $200 million+ range.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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