Ex-Visceral developer Zach Wilson has explained one of the reasons behind EA shuttering the developer and “pivoting the design” of the new Star Wars game may be down to Dead Space 2. When the game was developed it cost $60 million to make and went on to sell 4 million copies. When it comes to multi-million dollar franchises, that figure meant the game “underperformed.”
Dead Space 2 cost 60 Million dollars to make and they were merciless with their budget. they only sold 4 mil and that wasn't enough
— Zach Wilson (@covernode) October 17, 2017
The $60 million doesn’t account for marketing and promotion which often matches or surpasses the cost of development. Also, you can’t extrapolate the revenue EA received from multiplying $60 by 4 million either. You have to account for 1st party cut, retailer cut, steep discounts after being on sale for a few months and other overheads. Wilson estimates that EA gets closer to $30 average for each copy sold. That figure would mean that Dead Space 2 made a small profit.
EA makes $30 per copy after retailers and console makers take their cut. Then consider that a chunk of the game was sold on sale
— Zach Wilson (@covernode) October 18, 2017
These inflated development and marketing costs suggest that publishers are looking to Loot Boxes and microtransactions to balance the finances and go from having an “underperforming” title to a “successful” one.
Zach Wilson is now working at Bethesda on an undisclosed title.