Mafia 3 was supposed to be one of the biggest games of 2016, critically and financially. It took a fan favorite series and put a twist on it by setting it around a black character in the 1960's who had return to New Orleans from the Vietnam war. Gone were the days of the Goodfella's-esque story that Mafia 2 had, this game was tackling new issues and pushing the series in a new direction.
It was ambitious in its story and setting, but sadly the game was poorly received by critics due to its repetitive gameplay, bland open world, and the fact that it had so many glitches it looked like it was still in the alpha stage of development. Hanger 13's efforts were diminished upon release. Even if it had a great story, it just wasn't going to hold its own against the likes of Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1 and more this holiday season.
An anonymous former 2K employee recently posted a statement regarding the company and its poor management of studios like Irrational Games. In the statement, they mentioned how expensive Mafia 3 was to develop and how much it needs to sell just to break even.
"Hanger 13 spent many years and many 10s of millions of dollars creating “Mafia III” which has recently tanked in reviews and has no hope of ever making its money back (it needs to sell ~8 million full price units to make up for its expenses, it has so far sold well under 1 million units)."
While we don't know the exact cost of the game, if we multiply 8 million by the cost of a regular copy of the game ($60) we get 480 million. The game probably didn't cost $480 million as games like GTA V cost roughly $265 million to make, and they're even bigger than Mafia 3 with more licensed tracks, bigger marketing, and more tech. So, my estimation is the game needs to make about $220 -$240 million in order to break even, and so far it hasn't even made one fourth of that. The $480 million is probably their overall goal, but it looks like they won't come anywhere near close to that.
A large chunk of the game's costs probably come from its licensed soundtrack which has songs from legendary bands like the Rolling Stones, CCR, and Johnny Cash who is notorious for having expensive songs licensed songs. To put it in perspective, Mercedes reportedly paid roughly 1.5 million to use Rolling Stone's Sympathy for the Devil in an advertisement. That same song is used in Mafia 3 both on the in-game radio and during scripted moments.
The game also had a pretty big marketing campaign that included TV ads, trailers prior to videos on websites, and much more.
If these rumors are true, the future of the Mafia franchise could be in trouble.