How Your $60 Video Game is Chopped Up

(click to enlarge)

Via the informative folks at FeedVibe, we had this rather illuminating chart that shows exactly how much of your money goes where when you plunk down $60 for a video game.

As digital distribution takes over, I expect to see the 20% handed to the retailer to shrink dramatically. But if you think that all of a sudden games will be 20% cheaper, you’re kidding yourself. More than likely either the console or the publisher will pocket the different and keep charging you the same.

For as much as people like to claim the $60 game is going away, I have my doubts this will ever come to pass.

  • Jake

    Wow the developers don’t get as much of it as they deserve, the developer and publisher number should be flipped in my opinion.

  • Greg

    Seriously! How do publishers expect to get good developers lined up when they are only making $9 per game sold? That does not seem like great financial incentive to make games…

  • Reynaldo Kamal Cruz

    You know, I’m not sure where they are getting that 20 percent that they show the retailers acquiring. I worked for a retailer that sold video games, and the profit margin was, at its largest, 17%, and most of the time was 15 or lower. Interesting.

  • Postal

    Just like the music industry. Useless middlemen who water down the products are the ones making the most money. And they will use every power at their disposal to make sure the system stays this way. Gawd I hate EA.

  • Greg

    @Cruz – the profit margin is not the same thing as the percentage of the gross sale they receive.

  • Jon

    @Postal – ‘The secret to being a good businessman is being a great middle man.’ Though I do completely agree, EA sucks. But at least we get Mass Effect.

  • Darkhawk

    It actually makes sense for the publisher to be getting more. As in other industries (film, to name one of many) the non-creative side who puts up the cash gets to reap the most profit. It’s eternally unfortunate that the people whose hearts and souls went into the game get a smaller percentage of the profit, but because they owe it to the big companies who have faith in them, there’s not much that can be done.

  • John

    So, on an open source console where games are self published by developers via digital distribution and marketed through word of mouth games would cost $9.

  • Steven


    no, man, then the game wouldn’t adhere to the creative commons agreement, which is an integral part of open source. the developer could ask for donations, but with open source, its all free. the only product i can think of that doesn’t adhere to this rule and does ask straight up for money first is red hat linux and thats mostly just for the 24/7 live support and other services that aren’t part of red hats code. the developer could do the same here and offer support for the game with some payment and still be legit.

  • Kal


    Simply being made on an open source console doesn’t mean the game itself must be open source as well. There does exist proprietary, closed-source software for Linux, for example.

  • Bob

    The $60 game will probably never go away, but why would you want it to? The great thing is that you can find video games at every price from $0 – $60. I’m sure you can even pay more if you wanted to.

    Basically, we’ve got options, and you can’t ask for better than that.

  • Matt

    I’d love to see how the cost of DLC breaks down.

  • Brian

    Talking about “a $60 game” is a fundamental flaw in this “game pie”. You cannot get a AAA game for $60 anymore. You can get it for $60 + tax, + DLC + DLC + more DLC + extra this + extra that. Or you can get an $80 or $130 version of the game + DLC + extra everything.

    To get a complete game you’re looking at, with the way DLC is right now, making you buy the bare minimum in a game…ie. the disc, and then making you buy all the maps separately, and all the guns separately, you’re looking at about $150 per game….and people keep paying it. It’s disgusting. If you buy 2 Activision partial games (what you get at launch) and then you buy the rest of the game…you’d have spent more money on 2 games than it would cost to buy a brand new console to play them on.


  • Brandon Costner

    I’m a video game retailer and i get about 5% because I have to go through a wholesaler who takes the 15%where as stores like game stop and wal-mart can order directly.

  • Brandon Costner

    I’m a retailer and I am lucky if I make $5 per game

    Sure the games are $48-52 a piece but that is before shipping them to the store, then I have to pay employees and all of the expenses associated with operating a store such as rent, electricity, etc, then if I want to sell online Amazon charges 30%, ebay is 10% paypal is 2.75% and I have to pay to ship out the games which is about $2.50 per game

    There goes all the profit!

    Publishers are the biggest obstacle in making video games profitable

    Much like Record Labels in the music industry.

    If I want to play Halo 5 I have to sell 10 copies just to get a free one for myself.

    Buy 10 get 1 free is not a good deal straight from a retailer!