In case you somehow missed it, we’ve now had official confirmation from Rockstar itself that a GTA 6 trailer is coming in December. The game is hugely anticipated by millions of people and who can blame them? GTA 5 was fantastic, while GTA Online has somehow managed to keep folks invested in a game that’s a decade old.
But does the next game have the capacity to break records? Maybe even push past some lofty milestones to become the best-selling game we’ve seen in years? To get a better idea of its chances, we reached out to two video game industry analysts for their input. Just how big will GTA 6 be? Let’s find out.
“There is no entertainment product that exists that can compete with a new Grand Theft Auto launch.” says Chris Dring, video game analyst and head of Gamesindustry.biz. “The last game arrived over a decade ago, delivering over $800 million in a single day and has gone on to exceed 185 million units (sold) across three platform generations.”
This frankly absurd performance has easily lifted GTA 5 up into the pantheon of the top selling video games of all time. It’s number two in fact! Rockstar’s most recent GTA game sits second only to Minecraft, which has shifted 238 million units since its 2011 release.
Dring continues regarding the effect even the trailer will have on the industry at large: “The impact of Grand Theft Auto reverberates around the business. Every games publisher will be watching that trailer to see when the game might land, because they will need to know when not to launch whatever they’re doing. If you’re not a fan of Grand Theft Auto, it’s going to be a very boring month.”
This seems to be true for GTA 5, which even managed to make a dent in FIFA’s notoriously strong sales numbers back in 2013. We’ve recently seen the impact that a contested launch day can have, with games like Immortals of Aveum suffering due to a crowded schedule. The damage a GTA game release could potentially do to other titles competing with it for attention is staggering to think about.
For another expert, the success is not so black or white, thanks in part to GTA Online. Games analyst and researcher at Ampere Analysis Piers Harding-Rolls also provided us with his insight regarding how big of a launch GTA 6 will be. “[It will be] potentially bigger than GTA 5’s record-breaking launch in volume and value, due to the massive audience the franchise has built up over the current version of the game.” He added: “It depends to an extent on how Rockstar transitions the GTA Online experience to the new game, because what happens with that will decide how the 20+ million (players) that play GTA 5/Online every month will shift to the new version of the franchise.”
The problem of transitioning a player base from one game to its sequel has been somewhat of a theme of this year. Activision Blizzard opted to just shut down the original Overwatch after upgrading everyone to Overwatch 2 (even though it said it wouldn’t do that). More recently, Valve also automatically updated CS:GO to CS2, leaving the original hidden in the game’s Steam Library options and closing its official servers. In both cases, some players were left longing for a version of the game that was practically no longer playable.
Even if Rockstar nails the transition, the big question looms overhead. Can GTA 6 finally top that Minecraft record? Harding-Rolls isn’t so sure. “I don’t think so,” he says, “In terms of paid for game sales volume Minecraft is way ahead and to challenge GTA 5’s lifetime sales, it will need to have incredible longevity and a similar product strategy, which has delivered a consistent 5 million sales every quarter (for Minecraft) even when the game is over a decade old. Now that GTA Online is so established, I’m not sure the exact same product strategy can be implemented, which makes the launch and audience transition more complex than (it was for) previous (GTA games).”
Dring believes that GTA 6 will be “the biggest game launch of all time”, but also echoes Harding-Rolls’ emphasis on the online component as a key factor in its long-term potential, saying: “Whether it can come close to GTA 5’s lifetime success is going to come down to the live service component and whether Rockstar can deliver a game worthy of its name.” “A lot has changed at the studio since the last game launch,” he adds, “with two of GTA’s biggest leaders — Dan Houser and Leslie Benzies — no longer involved. It’s a guaranteed mega launch, whether it’ll cross three generations and nearly 200 million in sales, that’s to be determined.”
It’s bound to be an explosive launch, and there’s undoubtedly a lot riding on the game. Expectations are high, and you can bet that Rockstar’s financial goals are even higher for what could easily be the biggest release in the last ten years. Thankfully, the extent of GTA 6’s success, as well as its impact on the industry as a whole, looks like something we won’t have to wait too much longer to see for ourselves.
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Eugen Boglaru is an AI aficionado covering the fascinating and rapidly advancing field of Artificial Intelligence. From machine learning breakthroughs to ethical considerations, Eugen provides readers with a deep dive into the world of AI, demystifying complex concepts and exploring the transformative impact of intelligent technologies.