While The Callisto Protocol may have mixed reviews regarding its gameplay, it is one of the most visually stunning games of this generation so far, and had a load of hype behind it. The graphically impressive title cost a lot to make but has apparently under performed expectations.
According to MK-Odyssey (via VGC) The Callisto Protocol cost 200 million won ($162 million) to develop, a truly triple-A budget that the game has not been able to recoup. The game was so costly to make in fact it was referred to as "quadruple-A" during development. It is a budget even more notable considering the game was a new name in a genre that is relatively niche.
According to Samsung Securities, The Callisto Protocol has reportedly missed sales targets, which has forced Krafton investors to "lower their target stock prices". Korean games giant Krafton published the survival horror title and had expected to sell around five million copies, but current cumulative sales has The Callisto Protocl at around two million copies. Expectations are now that the stockbroker thinks it will be a challenge to reach that target.
The game received mixed reviews, which is apparently down to its singe-player focus and relatively brief run time according to the translated article, and the poorer than expected sales have contributed to Krafton's value falling. To put the sales target into context, a title in the same survival horror genre as The Callisto Protocol, Resident Evil Village, managed to shift six million units in its first six months. Capcom's series has a strong profile and came out to good reviews, so a five-million target for Striking Distance's Callisto was confident to say the least.
Coming out on December 2, 2022, The Callisto Protocol launched on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, and PC, and has an average score around the high 60s on Metacritic. In our review of the game, Features Editor Andrew King scored it 2.5/5, noting that it was repetitive and one-note, had flat characters and underwhelming story, while praising the "best-in-class lighting effects" and engrossing combat.
The budget for triple-A games is getting increasingly expensive. A Game Developer feature last month set out the reasons why. While $162 million to make The Callisto Protocol might seem an extreme case, and it is notable for a developer and title with such a new profile, other games have exceeded it. CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077, for example, cost $174 million to make.
Development budgets of $150 million and more have become "unremarkable" in triple-A game development, according to games tech analyst Liam Deane from Omdia. He attributed the ballooning costs to the step up in rendering power required by the latest hardware and the increased human effort needed to create bigger and more detailed game worlds that can make the most of the hardware improvements.
These increased costs mean developers and publishers are taking bigger risks when they shell out for the development of a title. We can see this effect in the news of Ubisoft, which recently announced cost-cutting measures as it cancelled three unnannounced projects amid other strategic changes. Game development is a big business and it can mean big risks, as The Callisto Protocol shows.
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