Take-Two, one of the largest positions in both our Metaverse and Gaming certificates, is now expected to release in the next couple of weeks the highly anticipated trailer for the next chapter in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) video game franchise, GTA VI.
For those who are not familiar with the franchise, GTA is an action-adventure game that takes place in fictional cities modelled on real cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The latest entry in the franchise, GTA V, is the most successful video game in the last ten years, selling more than 185 million copies and generating more than $8 billion revenue, without taking into account GTA Online revenue.
In our view, the long development time (around 10 years!) for the game and the evolution of GTA online over the last years suggest that GTA VI could have all the attributes of a major Metaverse. The game could indeed put players/users in a massive, real-world environment made of one or several major cities. And as these cities will be photo-realistic, it’s not hard to imagine that developers will include highly interactive places and activities so that users spend as much time as they can in the GTA virtual world, meeting friends in a virtual bar, visiting a virtual store to purchase physical or virtual goods or attending an artist’s virtual performance…
It’s worth noting that GTA Online has been pivoting towards social events lately as it notably introduced nightclubs where users can hang out and meet famous artists such as Dr. Dre that have their own avatar in the game.
In all, GTA could soon be much more than a video game and become an online destination where people socialize, shop and have fun. Given the massive GTA user base (tens of millions users), this new installment in the franchise should then give credence to the Metaverse ambitions of many Tech companies (Meta, Roblox…) and mark a turning point for the theme.
Adding to the hype, rumors have surfaced suggesting that the in-game economy of GTA VI may embrace a metaverse-style cryptocurrency system with the potential integration of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the gameplay that would allow Take-Two to better monetize the GTA virtual world, spark a virtual economy and reward users (for instance for their achievements). Even if Take-Two’s CEO, Strauss Zelnick, has not been an NFT enthusiast in recent years, we have been surprised this year to see the company, through its mobile gaming business Zynga, dabble with crypto/NFTs in its soon-to-be launched game Sugartown. This experiment may serve as a valuable feedback mechanism for Take-Two and Zelnick, potentially paving the way for the incorporation of such features into GTA VI.
NFTs could assume diverse forms within GTA VI, encompassing in-game cosmetics such as exclusive vehicles, weaponry, and attire. Beyond mere aesthetics, NFTs could also encompass assets like properties and businesses. Such conceptualizations offer players distinctive prospects for personalization, ownership, and privileged access to exclusive in-game content.
Such initiative could revive interest in NFTs that has been spiraling downward for the last years given, once again, GTA’s massive user base.
In the broader context of evolving consumer engagement strategies, real-world businesses are actively exploring innovative avenues in environments reminiscent of the Metaverse, akin to the one that could potentially be featured in GTA VI. For example, major retailers like Walmart are leveraging the potential of the Metaverse through collaboration with Roblox, establishing virtual stores that mirror their physical counterparts. Balenciaga, another early adopter, strategically aligns itself with Gen-Z culture by introducing digital clothing within the popular game Fortnite (Epic Games), exemplifying a forward-thinking approach to brand positioning within the evolving digital landscape.
Louis Vuitton has also already embraced the Metaverse concept, unveiling online games that incentivize players to accumulate NFTs for exclusive rewards, showcasing a progressive approach to customer engagement. Notably, their NFT-enabled game, “Louis: The Game”, launched in August 2021, has surpassed two million downloads, providing players with a unique quest to uncover a manuscript and collect candles, all while integrating celebrity-designed NFTs and expanding into new locations, marking a novel intersection of luxury and digital innovation.
Accordingly, there is little doubt that the Metaverse presents brands with an unprecedented opportunity for customer engagement and loyalty. Empowered by the capacity to craft unique and fully immersive experiences accessible from any location, brands can transcend conventional boundaries.
In conclusion, we expect the release of GTA VI to mark a strategic move at the crossroads of gaming, the Metaverse and, potentially, cryptos, by shining a new light on virtual worlds and fostering adoption of NFTs.