VentureBeat has an interview with Microsoft's Shane Kim in which the subject turns briefly to Wing Commander's production cost:
Kim noted that it once took 10 to 15 people nine months to make a game. Kim said he laughed when he heard that Electronic Arts spent $10 million on a Wing Commander game years ago. But now the company routinely spends $20 - $25 million developing games with teams of more than 100 people working for two or three years. For Halo 3 class games, the investment is close to $100 million, counting both development and marketing budgets.
... actually, the 'bank breaking' game in question is Wing Commander IV - which cost between $14 and $20 million and was developed in just 14 months. Keeping up that level of expenditure for a 24 or 36-month development cycle would put it right up there next to the modern games Kim mentions (except in 1996 dollars).