Video game developer Rockstar Games is reportedly pulling in at least half a billion dollars in revenue with Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer component of GTA 5.
According to former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies' $150 million lawsuit against Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive, GTA 5's online multiplayer component known as Grand Theft Auto Online has generated "at least" $500 million in revenue from microtransactions. Of course, as many fans are probably aware, Grand Theft Auto Online is completely free, but it offers incentives to players who wish to accelerate their progress with the use of in-game purchases, which has reportedly been a great benefit to Rockstar's and Take-Two's bottom lines.
Grand Theft Auto Online's reported half a billion dollars is a ridiculously huge sum, but in order to provide some context for the figure, let's look at the money garnered from Halo 5's multiplayer. While 343 Industries' first-person shooter is certainly a close contender in terms of popularity when compared to GTA Online, its in-game purchases would barely even touch those from Rockstar's title, as Halo 5's microtransactions have only generated $1.5 million in revenue.
Aside from development costs and fees scooped up by commissions from app-stores, as one of the lines from Benzies' lawsuit explains, GTA Online's microtransactions have a "nearly 100 percent profit margin." Of course, if that's the case, then the former Rockstar North president's legal claim that "GTA Online has the potential to achieve the greatest profit margin of any game created in the GTA franchise" would be precisely right.
Back in November 2015, Take-Two Interactive's CEO Strauss Zelnick said that Grand Theft Auto Online had more than 8 million fans playing each week, and had called the mode "the gift that keeps on giving" when discussing the funds generated from microtransactions during April of last year. Not two months ago, in fact, Zelnick stated that players were still "highly engaged" with GTA Online, and went on to claim the mode's revenue for 2016 was still making bank.
On top of all the capital made from Grand Theft Auto Online, the title itself, GTA 5, has shipped over 60 million copies to date, which factors into Benzies' lawsuit's estimated revenue for the game as a whole being somewhere in the ballpark of a whopping $3 billion. With that kind of real world dough, fans would be able to buy veritable boatloads of GTA bucks.
Should all of this approximation on the income for Rockstar and Take-Two be accurate, it makes a lot of sense as to why developers haven't exactly been prompt when it comes to releasing Grand Theft Auto 5's highly anticipated story DLC. Producing the materials would take manpower, which in turn would require the studios to remunerate creators for doing the work. So, if Rockstar and Take-Two can generate money hand over fist with fans paying for what's essentially digital currency for in-game purchasing power, why would developers bother making paid content when it can rake in the moola with free content?
Grand Theft Auto Online can be played through Grand Theft Auto 5, which is out now and available for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.