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We wouldn't include a brand just based on a financial opportunity in any of our titles."
Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Online is a big and successful multiplayer game, but unlike Fortnite, Call of Duty, and others, it doesn’t do much in the way of crossover collaborations with big brands. Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Rockstar parent company Take-Two, explained in a new interview that bringing real-world brands into the fictional world of GTA Online isn’t something that is a natural fit.
For that to work, the brands in question would need to be “iconic and they have to fit within that world,” Zelnick told GI.biz.
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The executive suggested that Take-Two is leaving money on the table by not offering more branding inside GTA Online.
“It’s very much a creative decision driven by the team at Rockstar. It’s not a financial decision,” he said. “We run all of our businesses here in an effort to engage and captivate consumers, and then we figure monetization takes care of itself. We wouldn’t include a brand just based on a financial opportunity in any of our titles.”
While GTA Online doesn’t do much inside its world with real-life brands, Take-Two’s sports games like NBA 2K and PGA Tour 2K lean heavily into branding. NBA 2K, for example, features many big-name brands for shoes and clothing, while its social hub even features Jake from State Farm.
“When you involve yourself with those games in the real world, you have an expectation of seeing advertisers and sponsors,” Zelnick said of NBA 2K and PGA Tour 2K. “But you don’t really have that expectation in Grand Theft Auto, except for fictional brands. So to bring a real-world experience in requires a lot of thought and sensitivity to consumers, and I think that’s what Rockstar Games is known for.”
Epic’s hugely popular battle royale game has welcomed all manner of branding campaigns with crossovers including characters from Marvel, God of War, Halo, Star Wars, and many more. Call of Duty: Warzone, meanwhile, just added new Godzilla and King Kong content in its latest crossover.
In related news, GTA V has now sold more than 165 million copies following its release for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in March. Rockstar’s other big game, Red Dead Redemption II, has now sold more than 44 million units.
Rockstar is now developing Grand Theft Auto 6. Development is “well underway,” but Rockstar has not released any concrete details about it just yet.
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