Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games, has revealed that Grand Theft Auto V has now sold-in more than 90 million units worldwide. The figure was shared in the company’s latest earnings call with investors for its fiscal
third quarter that ended on December 31st, 2017.
Over the holiday season, GTA Online and NBA 2K18 set records for “recurrent consumer spending,” which is revenue earned from microtransactions, subscriptions, downloadable add-on content, and other forms of digital spending. Take-Two CFO Lainie Goldstein said in the call that the company is committed to recurrent consumer spending, with the goal of featuring microtransactions in all titles from Take-Two Interactive in some form.
Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick noted that the company is “focused on players, not payers.” He believes giving people great content for free is part of what is making GTA Online so successful, adding that when you create compelling content, “the monetisation will take care of itself.”
Grand Theft Auto V continues to see “robust ongoing sales,” and its latest feat of selling 90 million units globally means it’s on track to pass 100 million units worldwide in 2018. This is remarkable, given that the title originally launched back in 2013. In December 2017, GTA Online set a new
player record, with more people having played GTA Online during the month than ever before in the game’s history.
Take-Two said that the continued success of GTA Online is pushed by Rockstar’s commitment to regularly releasing new and engaging content, such as the ambitious Doomsday Heist expansion, and themed content around Halloween and Christmas. Zelnick once referred to GTA Online as the “the gift that keeps on giving” for the company and its fans. Rockstar Games will continue to support GTA Online with new content and updates throughout 2018.
The next big title from Rockstar Games is Red Dead
Redemption 2. The much-anticipated western sequel was due this Spring before being pushed back
last week to October 2018. Zelnick said the delay was needed to allow additional time for polishing, but he’s “confident” that the game won’t be delayed again.
Whilst Red Dead Redemption 2 will go up against new installments in the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises this year, Zelnick observed that there’s less competition now than there was a decade ago, adding that the holiday season can be advantageous as consumers tend to spend more during that time of the year than during the “hot” summer months.
“The entire focus of this organisation is on delivering the highest quality entertainment experiences of any kind,” Zelnick said. “More often than not, we feel proud that we're able to do that. All of our labels are focused on releasing a title when they reach that apex of effort and perfection. And in this instance, Rockstar Games felt more polish was required, and naturally we are in favour of that decision. The date of October 26 is set, and I am confident that will be the release date. We are incredibly excited about it.”
“We release titles all over the calendar. Heading into the holiday season can be a particularly powerful time and I'd observe that while there are some competitive releases, it's a lot more of an open field today than it was 10 years ago," he continued. “There's plenty of opportunity to go around. So, we're really excited about [Red Dead Redemption 2] and the timing related to the launch."
Red Dead Redemption 2 will feature “a brand-new online multiplayer experience” when it launches this October. Recent reports suggest the game will include a Battle
Royale-style online mode, as well as purchasable tents and upgradable horse carriages as part of its new living freeroam experience.
Interestingly, Zelnick commented on the recent Battle Royale phenomenon, saying it has been “really interesting” to see the explosion in popularity around PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite. However, he did point out that its labels generally want to blaze its own trail instead of being “derivative” by following in the footsteps of something that came before it.
“I would just observe that someone else's success is really interesting, and we are obviously informed by what our competitors do. But our goal is to be as innovative as possible,” Zelnick explained. “And titles, even really good titles that are derivative, never seem to do as well as innovations that are unexpected.”
An example he used was Red Dead Redemption, which released in 2010. The thinking by many at the time was that westerns couldn’t be successful, but that title went on to be a smash hit, both critically and commercially.
“When we came out with the first Red Dead Redemption, the conventional wisdom was, was that Westerns don't work,” he added. “It had been an awfully long time since a Western-themed video game had come out. Rockstar took a massive creative risk and the result was extraordinary.”
Zelnick concluded by saying that he doesn’t anticipate either Rockstar Games or 2K Games being too enthusiastic about being “derivative” with the games they produce, though he did acknowledge that if fans want a PUBG-style Battle Royale game, then the company might bring it to them.
He said, “Of course we play in the world and we're informed by what's going on. It is our job to bring consumers what they want.”
GTA Online already features it owns PUBG-style mode called Motor
Wars, which sees up to 28 players parachute onto the map and fight until one person is left standing. This team-based mode focuses on vehicular combat over boots-on-the-ground, however, but players still need to find their own weapons and vehicles upon spawning. Given the recent
Red Dead Redemption 2 rumour, it does make Zelnick’s comment rather interesting.
As for financials, Take-Two’s net revenue for the quarter was $480.8 million, up from $476.5 million during the same period last year. Revenue from recurrent consumer spending jumped by 64% year-over-year and made up 32% of Take-Two’s total net revenue, with GTA Online being one of the main contributors alongside the NBA 2K franchise.
The company’s profit for the quarter was $25.1 million, which is down from $29.8 million during the same period last year. Like other companies, Take-Two also incurred a tax expense related to Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts enacted on December 22nd. Take-Two’s expensive for this was $11.9 million, so the company would have made a profit instead of a loss under ordinary circumstances.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.