Once again, the time for the quarterly earnings reports and calls to investors has come for Take-Two Interactive Software, parent company of Rockstar Games and also developer of the GTA franchise. Since usually these reports and calls are not intended for fans and consumers to see, they usually contain some info which otherwise doesn’t get out.
Given that the sales data reported has more of a financial purpose (obviously) rather than marketing and hype, it needs to be precise, even if it means including hints at news that is supposed to be kept under wraps. We previously reported on a similar call to investors detailing some “new and exciting” projects that Rockstar is working on, however those never saw the light of day at E3 like they were apparently supposed to.
The most recent call contained the usual reports of revenue and a breakdown of best sources and highest contributors. In spite of being three years old, GTA 5 continues to be one of the best sources of income for Take-Two. In fact, in the listings, it is mentioned separately from and before GTA Online. Total revenues went up from the past quarter, from $275.3 million to $311.6 million.
Revenue gained from digital sales is counted separately from that gained from the sale of physical media and merchandise, and the numbers show that while digital distribution is on the rise, brick and mortar is still the most common approach used by customers to get their product – and that somehow the actual game is still selling more than the microtransactions.
While it is understandable that a game at this level of fame will keep on gaining new players even three years after release, it is pretty amazing that copies are still selling as fast as they are. Microtransactions have become really popular among gamers in spite of what the vocal minority would have you believe.
We’ve reported that some time ago Shark Cards in GTA Online have amassed over half a billion in profits, which makes them among the best selling microtransactions in AAA games in history. Now, that’s a massive figure, which most games don’t hit throughout their lifetime.
Microtransactions in GTA Online allow players to purchase in-game currency, which can otherwise be earned through gameplay, giving the paying users no additional advantage. Granted, gaining large sums of cash in the game is difficult and time-consuming, but there are methods for optimal income.
Even so, physical game sales have Shark Cards beat, which surprised us more than a little. The cards fuel the massive playerbase of GTA Online in their drive towards getting the biggest and most luxurious goods the game, and are easily accessible for repeated purchase. Granted, many players who initially bought the first two versions of the game are likely to be upgrading to the enhanced edition now.
Battleborn, 2K’s answer to the recent surge in the popularity of hero-based competitive FPS-MOBA hybrids is also cited as a top contributor in both physical and digital sales, though Strauss Zelnick notes that the property has underperformed. We’ll hazard a guess and say that Blizzard’s insanely popular game in the same genre, Overwatch, has something to do with that.
The call also contained hints about the future for the company, such as the quasi-announcement that the console versions of XCOM 2 have been slightly delayed compared to their original release dates. The sequel to the critically acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown and its expansion Enemy Within has been released in PC for some time now.
However the sentence pertaining to the ongoing projects by Rockstar was quite interesting. Zelnick said that the developer responsible for GTA is currently hard at work on a new game, or possibly even more than one. He also alluded to an announcement about these projects being made soon.
Rockstar Games also is hard at work on some exciting future projects that will be revealed soon
Prior to this year’s E3 convention, Zelnick was hyping up Rockstar’s presence at the show. After a few leaks and a bit of deductive work by fans, it was pretty clear that a third Red Dead game is in the works, and was supposed to be unveiled at the trade show. However, as a few people who are “in the know” and who have seen the rehearsals reported, the RD3 announcement included a shootout in a brothel, and Take-Two opted to pull the reveal due to the recent shooting incident in the USA.
Granted, no official word of said decision was ever published, so this is still unconfirmed. Even so, a new Red Dead game seems to be the logical choice. Take-Two has stated in the past that the company already controls too many individual IPs and don’t want to further burden themselves in that regard, so chances are one of the many well liked properties under Rockstar’s control is getting revived.
Naturally, the biggest swirl of speculation is around the fabled GTA 6, which is allegedly in development, though it only began recently. Countless fans are posting hopes, wishes and fears about the inevitable next installment of the legendary franchise. We are running our own article series evaluating cities as potential settings.
However, for several reasons, including a desire to avoid franchise fatigue, chances are the next Rockstar project won’t be GTA. Recently surfaced WIP screenshots seemed to be a level in the elusive PS3 exclusive Agent, which by now has obviously switched platform priorities if it hasn’t been canned.
Many Rockstar properties just don’t have the weight to warrant a revival, however a few core franchises like Manhunt, Midnight Club and Bully could all be continued with modern installments to great success.
However no game is as hotly requested as Red Dead 3. Erroneously referred to a “Red Dead Redemption 2” by many fans, the return to Rockstar’s take on the wild west would undoubtedly be met with massive success and popularity.
While Zelnick offered no concrete date for the official reveal of RD3 – or whatever Rockstar is working on – he did say soon, so chances are that we will see a trailer for it, even if its just a teaser, before the summer is over.
In the meantime, GTA Online is going strong with new content. The Stunt Race Creator was released this Tuesday alongside a new Adversary Mode. This large update had been hyped up for the whole month preceding, and marks yet another turning point in the history of the game.
However even with such a large release, the speculation about the future of Online cannot be quelled. A recent leak suggests that the game might be getting that Biker DLC that everyone has been wanting to see pretty much since the launch of the game.
Details about said DLC are sparse, but what little has been revealed seems to be true. This obviously set off the community on a massive speculative roll, with everyone theorizing left and right what this DLC will look like. We know that the special Biker missions will work in a similar way to VIP and CEO jobs do now.
Either way, be it the next big AAA project or just a GTA Online update, fans are eager to find out what is next for Rockstar Games.
Are you excited to see what the developers of GTA 5 are working on?