Don't miss
  • 2,232
  • 6,844
  • 6097
  • 134

[Gamesbriefers] Is GTAV peak oil?

By on September 25, 2013


Five years since the last instalment. $270 million in reported costs. The last great release for the current generation of consoles.

GTA has made $1 billion in the first week. But from here on in, we have two console generations to support at the same time that mobile/casual/tablet and so on is taking off. Is GTA V the last hurrah of the console era?


Ben Cousins1Ben Cousins Head of European Game Studios at DeNA

I don’t think so. I think we’ll see overall market share decreases over the next console generation relative to new platforms, but the console software revenues, while in absolute terms dropping/levelling off, will likely gravitate towards fewer more and more expensive games that entertain for longer and longer and longer and generate more revenue per title.

pecorellaAnthony Pecorella Director of production for virtual goods games at Kongregate

I think I’m going to have to take a less dramatic approach. Straddling console releases is not new, we saw God of War 2 released to PS2 instead of PS3, even though it was months after the PS3 launched, and of course it went on to do just fine and spawn more sequels. I also don’t think this will be the last great launch for this current generation – if nothing else, Watchdogs should have a really great launch on the 360 and PS3. It won’t be as big as GTA V of course, but big enough to be noteworthy.

I agree with Ben that we’re going to continue seeing gamers fragment into mobile and PC (thanks to Steam). But until mobile technology gets to a point where it can provide console-level performance through TV connectivity, the console will still provide a great value proposition in price, power, and reliability. It will certainly be interesting to see where things lie in 5 – 7 years, but I expect at least this coming generation to be strong enough to continue to support AAA titles and big launches.

Mark SorrellMark Sorrell  Development Director at Hide & Seek

I’m definitely not convinced this is peak. Especially when it comes to revenue. There are a whole bunch of possibilities that might make the question moot (it’s unlikely, but what if the next GTA is F2P or Sub based or some other business model is employed?) but given that ‘big’ GTA releases are a good few years apart, and their appeal doesn’t seem to be diluted by various spin-offs and the such, and that this one is probably the best so far, I’d imagine the second ‘big’ GTA on the next generation consoles would give this one a run for its money.

We are almost certainly at peak PS3/360, mind. There will be more sold, of course, but the number of people moving on to PS4/XBone will outpace the very late adopters by some way, I’d imagine.

Behaviour wise, it’s also worth remembering there are an awful lot of people who will still want ‘console’ games for years to come, regardless of PC/mobile/microconsole movements. It’s not a zero sum game. I have for some time played on all consoles, PC and mobile. We play games, not hardware and so on. And, as has been said, it’s likely that it will be even fewer, even bigger hits that make it on next-gen machines, but half of that is ‘even bigger’.

It’s personally interesting that GTAV is the first game I’ve just sat there and played until I finished, like I used to play games when I was 17. And, indeed, the first AAA console game I’ve played seriously since…umm…err…Halo 4. Which was a year ago. I will definitely buy and play GTAVI. That said, I don’t think there’s another AAA console sequel I could say that of. But that’s just me.

In summation, I don’t think the console era is as over as is being suggested (after all, mobile games don’t provide the same experiences as console games, even if they often fit into our lives more conveniently) and the biggest console games are just getting bigger.

Stuart DredgeStuart Dredge Journalist at The Guardian

Based on past form and (my shonky interpretation of) Moore’s Law GTA V will be making a shitload of money on tablets and smartphones in about five years’ time, anyway…

I don’t necessarily think the console market is getting smaller, so much as the mobile market is getting bigger – it’s less people abandoning their consoles for tablets and smartphones (although some are – I blame ‘having children’ and ‘work’ in my case) and more lots of people playing games on mobile devices who didn’t have or want a console before.

So I agree with Mark: there’s a big base of people who want big console games, and even if there are less of them going forward, they may be bigger (see also: George Lucas recently talking about likely future for movies).

Also, like Mark, because he got to a keyboard first and is smarter: lots of opportunities for GTA to make money in new ways. Episodic content for example, running with more of the Ballad of Gay Tony stuff. F2P? I’m not so sure that’ll happen unless Rockstar have a disappointing GTA first, but who knows. Now they’ve gone down the multiple playable characters route, maybe there’s scope for GTA VI where you pay to unlock different characters – each with their own missions, overall story strands, available cars etc. I’d expect Rockstar to be very protective of their brand in that case though: no nickel and diming.

Teut WeidemannTeut Weidemann Online Specialist at Ubisoft

Ok, so you judge the current consoles at their peak by one title. A must buy. I don’t think thats true. We are beyond peak, since 2 years. Revenues are down, publishers close or consolidate, developers close, websites die, etc., all signs we are beyond peak and in transition.

Also the past console cycles showed us that as soon as the new one is there there is no new money to be made. Also the good dev teams are moved to the new consoles, publishers would be foolish doing otherwise. Actually thats been done since 1+ years since they got the dev kits.

And to be honest, lets take the genius of GTA V aside: in the 5 years development time of GTA V other publishers shipped 5 sequels of their main franchise making more money that GTA will do with part V.

dan_eferganDan Efergan Creative Director, Digital at Aardman Animations

The argument around Console/PC/Mobile reminds me of a similar argument within the Broadcast world, although the platforms discussed are Cinema, TV, DVD, Youtube, Streaming etc… It started with Digital Fundamentalists shouting ‘TV is Dead’, then as this didn’t happen old school TV bods replying ‘Digital is a Fad’, until eventually all of them realised they should shut up, make friends and get the hell on with what they’re good at, making stuff for us to watch.

I’m sure they’ll be another GTA blockbuster, and it’ll rack up even more. I really hope we keep big budget, 30 hour, epic experiences as part of our gaming vocabulary, as I trust many people will want to play them (me included).

Whether Rockstar will make their cash from a single platform in a gradually more fragmented market place is a harder question, most likely not, but there’s an easy answer: should we care?

Ben Cousins1Ben Cousins Head of European Game Studios at DeNA

Funny you mention this discussion as recent – this is what happened to cinema when TV happened back in the 1950s.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.12.30 AM

PatrickO'Luanaigh2Patrick O’Luanaigh CEO at nDreams

I’m convinced that there is still a strong audience for core game experiences. Whilst I don’t think sales of consoles this generation will be as high as last generation, I do think they will generate more revenue, thanks to a better understanding of variable pricing.

I also think the definition of ‘console’ is going to become a problem. Say, for example, a future version of Apple TV connects to your TV, has as much processing/graphical power as a PS4 and games can use a wireless controller (like iOS 7) and/or an iPad/iPhone as an input device. Surely this would be a console?

What if an Steam-OS powered Tablet is launched that has a wireless HDMI connection to your TV and plays core games? Is this a console?

So I think we’ll see the distinction between ‘mobile device’ and ‘console’ vanish until the two blur completely. You’ll switch your game between your tablet screen/huge 4K TV/VR sunglasses depending on your mood and where you are

Mark SorrellMark Sorrell  Development Director at Hide & Seek

I’d like to see a chart of the take of cinema releases over the years to compare. That graph shows the death of Pathe news reels and Saturday morning serials, surely? Not huge blockbuster movies. Which is what GTA clearly is.

Tablet/smartphone as console needs that to happen to beat dedicated consoles. Little else, I suspect. The install bases would quickly bring the games. But I struggle to think of a single optional peripheral that has ever achieved the attach rates required to make that happen. Gamers are a fussy lot, so long as the hardcore want dedicated hardware for their 30 hour epics, and in doing so build that user base to get things rolling, I find it hard to imagine tablets etc actually beating them here.

That said, if Apple made a controller, and it was standardised and up to their usual build standards – but with buttons! – then maybe. But that seems hugely un-Apple, despite the potential commercial gains it could bring.

Rationally, I can’t see how tablets can’t win. Behaviourally, it’s an awful lot trickier to see it happening.

Oscar ClarkOscar Clark Evangelist for Applifier

Sorry to be a little late to this discussion… been too busy playing GTAV

We shouldn’t confuse the impending last generation of the Console era with the software side

There will still be console devices and AAA games. The end in my mind is of the hardware taking precidence over the cloud layer.

There will still be blockbuster games like GTAV or COD and some of them will still be Premium (at first at least)

The revolution comes when there is such commercial advantage to digital distribution that the vested interested platforms have to evolve

This has (almost) nothing to do with the games themselves.

Whether the biggest peaking games are more GTAV-like or Puzzles & Dragons is yet to be seen of course. I suspect there is as wide a balance of demand for all kinds of different content – just as with Cinema & TV. Both offer different values.

That being said there are certain things that GTAV gets away with that as a F2P title would be really bad news in terms of adoption… driving ans shooting are just too hard (maybe im just too rubbish!)

andy payneAndy Payne MD at Mastertronic

Is GTAV peak oil for the consoles?– yes clearly, and obviously, for 360 and PS3. But in terms of revenues for consoles (as we define them to be from Sony/MS/Nintendo or micro consoles) I don’t think so.

FIFA will come out every year and get bigger and bigger. Basically there are billions of football fans out there, new ones being born every single day and not all of them have access to games machines. FIFA the video game is FIFA’s biggest revenue stream, bigger than the World Cup (as the WC comes around only every 4 years).

GTA comes out every 4years or so. It has become an event, much like the World Cup. The game delivers on all levels and so far they (Rockstar) have used the retail distribution network to get the majority of the games sold into the hands of the consumers. By the time the next instalment comes out, if it follows the same 4/5 year model (a big IF btw) then digital will play a far greater role and increase the margins for Rockstar one assumes.

But with GTA Online launching this week, I wonder if the allure of a game that only comes along every few years, will be diluted? Maybe GTAV is peak oil as a one off ‘release’ IF the GTA online world becomes persistent. I am not sure that will be the case, indeed I believe if we are made to wait, then GTAVI will be even bigger. I am sure Rockstar know exactly what they are doing.

About Gamesbriefers

Every week, we all ask our august panel of luminaries a burning question in the world of free-to-play and paymium game design. Or we ask a broader question on the future of the industry. We’re not going to announce who is a GAMESbriefer. You’ll just have to read the posts to see who is saying what to whom. We have CEOs and consultants, men and women, Brits, Germans, Americans, indies, company people and much more besides.