Grand Theft Auto V Sales May Be Shrinking

Take-Two executives worry about the economy in the short term.

Sales of Grand Theft Auto V are shrinking. It was possibly the worst quarter for Grand Theft Auto sales in history, but Take-Two executives see a light at the end of the tunnel. The Grand Theft Auto series is to the largest franchise in media history, but it is starting to show some cracks. 


KEY TAKEAWAYS 

  • Grand Theft Auto V sales are at their lowest point 
  • The game has sold just over 170 million units
  • Take-Two executives worry about the economy in the short term 

In August, it was reported that GTA sold nearly 170 million units during the quarter. In today’s earnings report, it was reported that the company sold just over 170 million units of the game in the last quarter. Signs may be showing a slowdown in Grand Theft Auto V sales. 

To put GTA sales in perspective, 155 million units were sold at this time last year. That is over 15 million unit sales in a year, for a game released in 2013. Most games will not sell this many units during their lifespan.

The Grand Theft Auto series is a juggernaut, but this slowdown could mean trouble for Take-Two in the short term. The company reported a net loss of 257 Million dollars for the quarter as it had nearly a billion dollars in operating expenses. 

According to Take-Two’s investor presentation, there have been over 385 million unit sales of the GTA series in total. 

Grand Theft Auto V
GTA V sales

It seems like Rockstar might be running out of people to sell the game to. 170 million unit sales is a feat in itself, making GTA V second only to Minecraft in terms of sales. It might be rare to find someone you know who has never played a Grand Theft Auto title. 

Some Take-Two executives see a slowdown in sales due to the macroeconomic environment. In an earnings call, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick made some comments on the economy’s effect on sales. The company expects some pressure on game sales but expects a recovery by the end of 2023.

“There’s a difference between user acquisition and retention and conversion. And on user acquisition, I think we and everyone else is just going to be a bit more selective to drive efficiency. And in terms of retention and conversion, that’s a reflection of people just not having to spend mobile. You can enjoy a title without spending in-game. 90-plus percent of consumers do not spend in-game. 

And so at times when consumers are feeling the pressure of higher prices for fuel and food, for example, they may be less likely to spend money on entertainment, especially when you can have the experience anyhow. So in terms of our expectations, I think this is — it’s a moment where we will, in fact, tune up our UA spend to become more efficient. That’s a good thing.

And yes, we will probably see some pressure on in-game purchases for a period of time. As I said earlier in the call, not that I think you can underwrite to this because it’s just 1 person’s opinion, I think there’ll be pressure for 3 to 6 months at least that’s driven by the economy and geopolitical factors. And I’m hoping that by the end of ’23 — I believe that by the end of ’23, things will normalize and will be on an upward swing again. And Lainie will take the question about buybacks.” – Strauss Zelnick 

Besides GTA V, other Rockstar games are showing signs of a slowdown. Take-Two reported just over 46 million unit sales for Red Dead Redemption 2. In August just over 45 million sales were reported. After reporting earnings, Take-Two’s stock fell nearly 17%.
 

While sales of GTA V slip, GTA VI seems to be just around the corner. Many insiders and analysts expect a release sometime in 2024 although this is not certain. There are no doubts that Grand Theft Auto VI will be a juggernaut generating billions of dollars for the company, the question many have is, when? 

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Matt Toledo


Matt is a student from the US. He is an avid gamer and is interested in the intersection of the gaming industry and finance. He is a fan of Halo, Mass Effect and Star Wars

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