Blog Games

GTA VI will reverse console's slump and solidify gaming's role at the heart of entertainment

Cover image for GTA VI will reverse console's slump and solidify gaming's role at the heart of entertainment

Photo: Take-Two

Photo of Rhys Elliott
by Rhys Elliott

Move aside, Barbenheimer and Taylor Swift. The decade’s defining moment in entertainment is coming. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) VI is due to launch in autumn 2025, and it's set to be entertainment’s biggest release ever. Here's why:

  • The previous game, GTA V, boasts over 200 million copies sold and $8.5 billion in revenues since launching a decade ago
  • GTA V still sells about 5 million copies per quarter – a number many premium games dream of in their launch quarter – let alone quarter 40
  • Take-Two’s recent financial results showed that GTA V and Online even managed to grow their respective audiences by +35%and +23% in fiscal 2023. This was mostly thanks to smart inclusions on Game Pass and PlayStation Plus
  • A quick look at popularity charts (for Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation) shows that GTA V never leaves the top 10, despite being a decade-old premium game

GTA V’s still-popular GTA Online mode – including a community-driven role-playing mode – has helped Take-Two remain a key third-party publisher despite having a lighter release schedule than some of its peers.

Solidifying gaming’s podium spot in the culture once and for all

It is no secret that gaming has long made more revenues than music and film, but it's rarely got the same cultural respect in mainstream circles. Luckily, that is changing, because:

  • Gaming is now mainstream (over half of all consumers play). Gamers are also aging up and sticking with the pastime into adulthood and beyond for the first time. Look out for our article on this exciting topic next week. If you're eager to delve deeper right away, contact us to get your copy of ASAP
  • Many people with C-suite and leadership jobs (cultural gatekeepers) are now life-long gamers, whereas people in these positions tended to look down on gaming unfairly in the past
  • Gaming IP is being successfully translated into other media, such as HBO’s The Last of Us and Amazon's Fallout. Game IP has become prestigious in the eyes of non-gamers
  • Gamer penetration is huge among the younger generation of consumers, with 66% of 16-19-year-olds playing on mobile, 55% on console, and 47% on PC. This is making games central to culture; slang like ‘NPC’, ‘mid’, and‘ spawned’’ originated in gaming and has since permeated mainstream language

GTA VI’s launch will solidify gaming’s place at the heart of the entertainment landscape once and for all. And hype is already swelling, as the marketing cycle kicks off in earnest.

Since the end of 2023, GTA VI’s launch trailer has amassed 191 million YouTube views. That's more than Barbie’s main trailer, Oppenheimer’s official trailer, and Taylor Swift’s ‘Lavender Haze’ music video combined.

The building excitement among consumers is palpable. In Q1 2024, 21% of consumers said they play GTA games, up from 19% at the end of last year. MIDiA’s data here backs up comments from Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick, who said hype for GTA VI is having a spillover effect onto GTA V.

The title is launching on new-generation consoles at the end of next year (with a PC version presumably coming a little later). It will also leverage the viral role-playing trend (Rockstar acquired the creators of Cfx.re, the RP mod’s creator last year), so it will likely form an official part of GTAVI’s online portion.  

Rockstar also typically launches the single-player experiences first and the online component after. These staggered launches and live-service strategies will ensure that consumers are talking about GTA VI months and years after its initial launch – even more than GTA V

Unlike TV, music, and movies GTA VI’s cultural moment will echo far longer in the culture, solidifying its place as a defining cultural moment in entertainment.

Another wrinkle is that Take-Two could finally leverage mobile and its Zynga acquisition to create an asymmetrical mobile experience that ties into the wider GTA VI (and online) account.

As for console, GTA is poised to pump life into the challenge-addled market.  

A struggling console market

MIDiA’s games forecast points to challenges for console growth next year. Meanwhile, Sony announced in its recent financial earnings that roughly half of its 118 million monthly active PlayStation users are still on PS4 (not the newer PS5), while Xbox’s struggles in selling new-generation hardware are common knowledge.

We are now crossing the halfway point of the latest console generation, so the large share of consumers on older machines might seem surprising – but it makes sense.

The PS5 and Series X|S have essentially – until very recently – been glorified incremental upgrades for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X:

  • Thanks to the live-service revolution, many popular titles, including Fortnite, GTA V, and Minecraft are years old and available on last-gen’s machines, weakening the current generation’s value proposition
  • Consoles were supply-constrained at launch, meaning many consumers missed that early get-it-while-it’s-hot launch period
  • The above led PlayStation to release its highest-profile first-party content, God of War Ragnarök and Horizon Forbidden West, across generations – a tactic Xbox already followed in its “Play Anywhere” initiative
  • There is a first-party content draught, owing to game development timelines spiralling out of control
  • PC is on the rise, with more PlayStation and Xbox content and more accessible ways to play (i.e., the Steam Deck)
  • The tough macroeconomic climate and resulting lower disposable income for players only aggravated things further

Consumers holding out on upgrading to newer generations negatively impacts the total addressable market for publishers making games exclusively on the “new consoles”, as seen in the lower-than-expected sales of games like Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and the Dead Space remake. The new-gen fence sitters are limiting sales and network effects of new-gen exclusive games.

Enter GTA VI.

GTA VI: The silver bullet the console market needs?

While $500 is a big ask for consumers right now, hype for GTA VI will undoubtedly bring more consumers into the latest-gen console fold.  

Here is how it will help drive console revenues:

  • The autumn release will ensure GTA VI is on (digital) shelves for the holidays. GTA VI will likely put a PS5 or Xbox Series console on many Hanukkah and Christmas lists
  • GTA VI has enough cultural clout to bring back entire demographics to gaming; GTA has enjoyed immense popularity since the release of GTA III in 2001, almost 25 years ago now, meaning there’s a cultural touchpoint for all generations. FOMO and word of mouth will take care of the rest
  • Many consumers who began playing during the lockdowns but stopped after the world opened up again will likely return for GTAVI
  • Many players who (re-)enter the console fold or upgrade will also gravitate towards other new-generation content they may have missed
  • Multi-game subscriptions are facing growth challenges on console, but the new influx of GTA players looking to expand their new-gen horizons might subscribe, adding a little growth to this saturated console vertical

GTA VI is not necessarily a silver bullet, but it will prime the current console market to make a splash in the latter half of its lifespan. History tells us that the biggest, best-received premium games come at the end of console generations, so GTA VI getting more consumers aboard for the coming content storm is a clear positive for the console market.

It will also be a strong use case for one of the market’s worst-kept secrets: the PS5 Pro. 

A rising tide lifts all boats – even in other waters

Beyond the games industry and the makers of GTA VI, companies and creators across media, entertainment, advertising, and the creator economy will ride GTA VI’s cultural wave:

  • Podcasters, video creators, and other influencers: The creator economy and gaming have had a long and illustrious relationship. That relationship will continue with GTA VI, with whole cottage industries popping up around the game (and its role-playing mode)
  • Social media platforms: By tapping into the GTA (meme) culture, social media platforms can leverage GTA VI content to generate engagement
  • Music playlists: Music – including licensed tracks and in-game radio – has always been a huge part of GTA. GTA Vice City was perhaps the most iconic here, and GTA VI takes place in Vice City, so music playlist curators can benefit here
  • Fashion and merch companies: Brands will no doubt tap into GTA’s cultural zeitgeist to further leverage their goals by creating tie-in merch or lines inspired by the game

The list goes on.

Want to leverage GTA for your goals? Act quickly to avoid missing the biggest cultural wave of this generation. But trying to unpack GTA VI’s impact in a data-driven way is tough. Luckily, MIDiA has plenty of data and insights on GTAfans, their cross-entertainment preferences, consumption behaviours, digital service usage, technology ownership, and attitudes.

If you plan to leverage the coming GTA wave, reach out to us. We would love to help.

MIDiA clients, stay tuned for a comprehensive GTA user profile report.

There is a comment on this post, add your opinion.

Trending

Add your comment

Comments

soundos
very nice blog for sharing