GTA Online, the multiplayer mode for Grand Theft Auto V, has been a big hit for Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two. It is consistently cited as a top-performer during the company’s earnings reports, and it’s believed to have brought in more than $500 million from its microtransactions. But don’t expect Rockstar to support it forever.
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said at the Cowen and Company Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today that GTA Online was never intended to be “permanent.” There may be a day in the future that Rockstar stops supporting GTA Online with new content, but it won’t likely be soon. In fact, GTA Online’s next major update, Further Adventures in Finance and Felony, one of the game’s biggest yet, comes out on June 7. And Rockstar has teased even more “massive, feature-rich” expansions are scheduled to come out later.
“We do expect GTA Online’s results to moderate because October will be three years since we released it,” he said. “Not only was it not our intention that GTA Online was permanent, but it’s important that it not be permanent. We have to rest the franchise at some point.”
In past speaking events and during earnings calls, Zelnick used the word”permanent” to describe franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Evolve, but not individual modes like GTA Online.
Zelnick and other Take-Two management have also talked about the importance of “resting” a franchise in an effort to maximize its potential reach. With the exception of its NBA and WWE franchises, Take-Two intentionally decides against releasing new installments to existing franchises every year.
According to Take-Two president Karl Slatoff, the publisher’s reasoning is to avoid franchise fatigue by managing releases more strictly. This, in turn, makes a brand viable for longer than one that is released yearly.
Zelnick himself echoed similar sentiments in November 2015, when he said annualization can lead to the erosion in the value of a brand.
He said at the time: “The market asks us, ‘Why don’t you annualize your titles?’ We think with the non-sports titles, we are better served to create anticipation and demand. On the one hand to rest the title and on the other hand to have the highest quality in the market, which takes time. You can’t do that annually.”