I’m pretty sure this should be “The Ten Highest Video Games Budgets Ever” or “The Ten Most Expensive Video Games Ever Made”, but whatever.
There’s no doubt that Grand Theft Auto 4 was an excellent return on investment, but in terms of its worth as a game or advancement of the art, I’m not so sure. I can honestly say I’d rather see the money distributed between a bunch of inventive little studios (Gaijin Games, Skip Ltd., Q-Games or even Clover Studio back when it still existed) and then see what they’d come up with. I think gaming as a whole could do with more Orbients, Okamis, and Bit.Trip Voids instead of another Grand Theft Auto.
The GTA games are definitely a towering achievement, and quite incredible in their own way (worlds have rarely been so convincingly created), but I always feel they lack ambition and scope; there’s only so much that can be done in such a ruthlessly focussed, pedestrian world. Games like Orbient strip away realism to reveal a ludologist’s paradise where the mechanic is everything. Games like that expose more about the fundamental appeal of gaming — and its intrinsic value — than any number of car-stealing, thug-capping sims ever will.