Total expenses for America's Army
, the free first-person shooter developed and operated by the United States Army, have totaled $32.8 million since 2000, according to newly-revealed information.
Consumer site GameSpot obtained the budgetary data
by issuing a Freedom of Information Act request to the US Army. The government's budget on the game has ranged from $1.29 million in 2005 to $5.60 million -- the highest yearly cost -- in 2001, the year before the first full release of the game. On average, annual expenditures have been $3.28 million.
According to GameSpot, certain requested information was withheld, as "disclosure of this information is likely to cause substantial harm to the Department of the Army's competitive position in the gaming industry."
was released in 2002, and the sequel America's Army 3
was released this year. The games were developed by an Emeryville, California-based studio until America's Army 3
shipped, after which the Army took all development in-house at Alabama's Redstone Arsenal.
It is unclear if the published budget includes any spending on the series' console spinoffs, which were published (and likely funded in large part) by Ubisoft.
The taxpayer-funded games and technology have been famously effective as Army recruiting tools -- more effective than "any other method," according to Congressional testimony -- but they have also paid off as internal training and simultaion tools. "When we build something in America’s Army, the U.S. government owns it completely...and [it] can therefore be used for any application or use of the game. So costs keep going down," Col. Casey Wardynski said of the program to Defense Systems
According to a Washington Examiner report
published last month, one quoted Air Force colonel said that in his experience, video game proficiency (not specific to America's Army
) has made younger recruits significantly more adept with modern remote warfare techniques, but in many cases has also left them "worse at distorting the reality of [war] from the virtual nature."