Skip to main content

Activision spending $500 million on Destiny (That’s more than Avatar)

destiny trailer offers broad overview online shooter action works
Read our full Destiny review.

During the Milken conference in Los Angeles last week, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick revealed  that he intends to spend $500 million developing and promoting the post-apocalyptic multiplayer shooter Destiny, Reuters reports. A company spokesperson later confirmed the number, reiterating that, in addition to development costs for the game itself, the figure includes marketing, packaging, infrastructure support, royalties, and other costs.

The game’s budget surpasses Avatar’s  reported production and marketing bill of $425 million, making Destiny a contender for one of the most expensively-produced works of art in any medium.

That is a monumental amount of money to spend on a game, particularly for a brand new intellectual property. That places it squarely atop the list of most expensive video games to develop, definitively knocking down the previous record of $265 million by Grand Theft Auto V. Most other super expensive games have been well-established properties the likes of Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, and Star Wars, with the exception of Silicon Knights’ 2008 flop Too Human at #11.

Analysts speaking to Reuters estimate that the game will have to sell 15 to 16 million units at $60 in order to break even. Doing our own basic math, it would take roughly 8.3 million sales of a $60 game to exceed $500 million. If Destiny sells 15-16 million copies, it will be in the same league with the all-time best-selling titles on the Xbox 360 and PS3, Halo 3 and GTAV, respectively, or on par with the lifetime sales of The Sims. Activision is taking a serious bet that Destiny will be one of the biggest titles in gaming history.

Activision is committed for the long haul, with plans to develop Destiny into their “next billion-dollar franchise.” It sees this upfront cost as not just for one game, but as an investment in a next generation engine and a “robust backend infrastructure” to reduce future development costs. Bungie practically defined a decade of mainstream gaming with Halo, and now Activision is gambling that it will be able to do it again. Only time will tell if Destiny will be our density, or just a cautionary tale we tell about spending too much on a game.

Editors' Recommendations

Will Fulton
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Fulton is a New York-based writer and theater-maker. In 2011 he co-founded mythic theater company AntiMatter Collective…
Activision Blizzard will launch more ‘remastered and reimagined’ games this year
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

Activision Blizzard is planning to roll out more "remastered and reimagined" games this year, following the successful returns of beloved series such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro.

In the company's earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2019, Activision Blizzard CFO Dennis Durkin revealed that in addition to new games, Activision Blizzard "will continue to tap into our portfolio of beloved IP to bring several remastered and reimagined experiences to our players in 2020, which we’ll announce closer to launch."

Read more
Epic Games Store had more than 100 million customers in its first year


When Epic Games, hot off the success of Fortnite, opted to open the Epic Games Store in late 2018, it wasn't clear if it would able to compete with Steam, GOG, and the other behemoths in digital game sales. However, it has certainly made its mark, as the Epic Games Store has racked up 108 million customers in just its first year and generated an impressive amount of revenue.

Read more
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare racks up over 500 million multiplayer play hours
call of duty black ops 5 cold war modern warfare

Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® | Multiplayer Reveal Trailer

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a phenomenal multiplayer shooter, made with an understanding of what worked in the previous trilogy without feeling limited by the groundwork laid out in those games. It appears players have been enjoying their time with the game thus far, as Activision announced it has totaled more than 500 million hours of multiplayer playtime since its launch less than two months ago.

Read more