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Has GTA stumbled upon the perfect mix of pay-upfront and F2P mechanics?
Grand Theft Auto V is a success.
A metacritic of 98, the second highest of all time. S1 billion in sales in the first three days. Twenty-nine million copies sold in to retail within the first six weeks. It’s a phenomenon by any metric.
But I wonder if it is not also showcasing a fascinating experiment in new business models.
GTA V is a vast, sprawling sandbox, full of narrative, exploration and exhilaration. Few people would begrudge the price of the shiny disk for the craftsmanship, the fun, the enjoyment and the experience. The single player experience is worth the price online.
But Rockstar didn’t ship just a single player game. It also shipped a multiplayer game – GTA Online – filled with microtransactions and variable pricing.
So is Take Two attempting to get the best of both worlds? It creates a game at vast experience ($290 million or so) and sells it to tens of millions of people. Some of those people just experience the single player game. Others enjoy the sandbox so much they take to the multiplayer, online environment where they are given the opportunity to spend more money on things they value in a social context. Rockstar gets paid more by those players who are enjoying the game more, who continue to use the online functionality and who demand more content.
Single-player campaign gamers win, because their purchase doesn’t subsidise running the servers that the multiplayer users need. Multiplayer gamers win, because Rockstar is incentivised to keep making great content to keep them playing. Take Two not only encourages gamers to keep their physical disks rather than trading them in, they also gain in revenue from the heaviest users.
This might be a great solution. I expect Activision to pay careful attention, with a particular focus on how to use this kind of approach for Call of Duty.
What do you think? Am I right that this hybrid business model is the future, rather than the aggressive monetisation of a Forza?