POV: Grand Theft Auto V
MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW - Created in 1997, the Grand Theft Auto series is widely considered one of the most influential franchises in gaming. Brimming with pop culture references Grand Theft Auto titles continue to generate extreme mass appeal amongst game players as well as endless news headlines dedicated to its popularity and questions of its tendency to spur real-world crimes. All of these factors help create a perfect sales scenario, as Grand Theft Auto continues to be one of the best-selling franchises in gaming, and entertainment, today.
Unlike many of its franchise competitors who release annual or bi-annual titles, Grand Theft Auto’s makers, Rockstar Games, believes in the less-is-more theory. The latest chapter in the GTA series was released on September 17th, 4 years after the last release and allegedly had a $250M budget. The storyline is of three thieves looking to pull off six heists and includes both single-player mode and multi-player mode where up to 16 players can compete collaboratively or against each other as well.
Many now compare major video games to movies in their size and scale, and Grand Theft Auto 5 fits that bill: pre-launch marketing including trailers on YouTube and TV, teasers drip-fed via Twitter and high-profile OOH spots; images of swimsuit model characters with strikingly similar appearances to the most well-known supermodels created added buzz whilst news stories circulated prior to the launch.
Because of all of this Grand Theft Auto V smashed all records, taking $800M in its first day and over $1B within its first three days, giving it the title of Fastest Selling Entertainment Product Ever. And with analysts suggesting that the total cost of marketing and production was likely lower than a similarly sized Hollywood movie, it’s likely that the game will take Avatar’s place as the most successful entertainment release of all time.
With the impending launches of the next generation of consoles, new Call Of Duty, Battlefield, and Assassins Creed titles, and even more technology, add-ons, and games, Q4 2013 may be the most anticipated quarter ever in the video game industry.
The enormous numbers behind Grand Theft Auto V reflect the sheer size of gaming potential. But more so, this phenomenon is just another example of gaming being embraced as a pillar of entertainment, one that is covered by mainstream news outlets as a result of games now having a much wider audience.
Advertising opportunities are limited within the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and there wouldn’t be too many brands who would necessarily want to attempt a partnership. Rockstar take their own brand seriously and are not about to risk it with unrelated tie-ins, particularly when the Grand Theft Auto universe has its own in-game brands, many of them mocking real-world ones.
What can be learnt from the game though is how to create truly immersive experiences. The game doesn’t begin and end at the console; mobile apps allow players to bet on the in-game stock exchange; the soon to be released online version will allow people to play from any device with an internet connection; and mobile & tablet versions of previous titles allow Rockstar to bring new fans into the franchise at lower price points.
The release also suggests that in the coming console battles Sony, with its concentration on core gamers, might do better than Microsoft’s more family friendly approach with games now out-performing Hollywood.
The release of GTAV kicked off the biggest sales period in gaming in stunning fashion. The title, an instant-classic in so many ways, set a new bar for success, not just for the games industry, but for entertainment as a whole. It also set the bar for multi-platform marketing and engagement. Game on.
Brimming with pop culture references Grand Theft Auto titles continue to generate extreme mass appeal amongst game players as well as endless news headlines dedicated to its popularity and questions of its tendency to spur real-world crimes. All of these factors help create a perfect sales scenario, as Grand Theft Auto continues to be one of the best-selling franchises in gaming, and entertainment, today.