There's no denying that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the biggest games ever made. In fact, aside from MMORPGs, there's a chance that The Witcher 3 is the biggest game of its kind.
The world is insanely detailed, with each and every little nook and cranny hiding something. Virtual worlds of such massive scale and intricate detail aren't seen all that often — even big-name titles like Grand Theft Auto V and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain can't compete with The Witcher 3.
Of course, with all that real estate comes a cost — developers can't work for free, after all. For the most part, gamers never really know exactly how much it takes to make a game — some publishers will tout development costs as a badge of honor (see EA and Destiny's shockingly inaccurate budget of $500 million), but for the most part, studios are content to keep their budgets to themselves.
Then again, CD Projekt Red is hardly your average developer: during its now-public financial briefing, the studio behind The Witcher 3 revealed just how much it cost to make the game. While that alone is surprising, the actual budget is even more-so: somehow, CD Projekt Red was able to make The Witcher 3 for just $81 million.
At first glance, $81 million is a huge budget, and it is — most games aren't made for that much money, and most publishers aren't willing to shell out that sort of cash. However, considering the sheer size and scope of The Witcher 3, $81 million suddenly seems like a small figure.
For comparison's sake, look at Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V: a game world that's not nearly as big or detailed as The Witcher 3's, and yet, it cost the studio over $250 million to finish development. Of course, there's more than sheer size to consider (licensing GTA V's soundtrack alone probably cost millions), but even so — one would expect the two games to be a bit closer when it comes to price.
If anything, The Witcher 3's relatively small budget makes an already impressive achievement even grander. Creating a living, breathing world like CD Projekt Red's is a daunting task, something that many studios would find impossible to do. Not only did CD Projekt Red succeed, but they did it at a fraction of the usual cost.
As for what's next for The Witcher 3, you can check out the first trailer for the game's upcoming expansion, Hearts of Stone, before its launch on Oct. 13.