In their most recent financial report, publisher Take-Two revealed that Grand Theft Auto 5 has now hit 140 million units sold around the world. This game launched for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013. Since then, it’s gone on to launch on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and now it’s getting new versions for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. The fact that it keeps selling more units shows that there’s very little need for Rockstar Games to bother making a Grand Theft Auto 6, even though they almost certainly are. My question is why. Why do players keep buying the game and investing in that world, as well as the online world that’s now so intrinsically linked with it?
I’ve been playing the GTA series since the PS2 era. I got GTA 3 and Vice City as a double pack and picked up San Andreas on launch day. I fully invested in GTA 5 when it came along, and got stuck into that world as I had all the previous ones. The thing that I never got hooked on was GTA Online, but that’s because I had Destiny 2. I’m not saying that GTA Online is the only reason that this game continues to sell well. In fact, the online element is available separately at this point, but it definitely helps with these unit numbers.
I think that the combination of GTA 5’s initial reception and Rockstar Games’ reputation for building such enjoyable open worlds is what has kept the game selling so well over the years. Right now, with the pandemic still forcing most of us to stick indoors and avoid other people, GTA Online is a great way to socialise. You can meet up with others without any fears, and as the world there gets more content, it only becomes a better place to play every single update.
With this in mind, I think that Rockstar Games and Take-Two will be planning to do the same with Red Dead Redemption Online. The game is just taking off now, but it’ll be a while before it reaches the same level. Maybe by the time GTA 6 releases, we’ll have the same levels of engagement in Red Dead Redemption Online. Until then though, GTA 5 and GTA Online continue to be shining examples of how to sell games well.