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What Would a New Grand Theft Auto Mean for Take-Two Interactive?

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) is the most popular individual video game title in history. Released almost a decade ago by Rockstar Games — which is owned by Take-Two Interactive (TTWO 1.77%)GTA V has sold over 170 million units over its lifetime, including approximately 20 million in the past 12 months. Along with the development of GTA Online, the franchise has been a huge growth driver for Take-Two over the last decade. But with almost 10 years since its launch, when will GTA VI be released? This is a huge question both gamers and investors have been asking for years with Rockstar keeping its cards close to the chest.

However, there are some hints the highly anticipated title is coming soon. Here’s when GTA VI could be released and what it will mean for Take-Two’s business. 

When the game could be released

There have been multiple hints in the last year around when the next GTA game is coming. First, Rockstar has explicitly stated in blog posts that the studio is working on the game, and it has shifted resources from other projects to work on its development. They haven’t set any date range for the release, but if we look at Take-Two’s merger filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) around its acquisition of Zynga this year, it offered financial guidance for the next couple of fiscal years.

In fiscal year 2024, which covers the year ending in March 2024, Take-Two is projecting a large jump in net bookings (the sales equivalent for a video game company) to $5.2 billion, up 33.7% from its fiscal year 2023 estimates. These projections exclude the Zynga acquisition. Reading the tea leaves, this likely means Take-Two is slating GTA VI to come out sometime next fiscal year. And with the successful launch of GTA V in Sept. 2013, it is plausible this is the month when GTA VI will come out as well. Game companies typically slate their larger game releases for the last few months of the year to coincide with the holiday season and Thanksgiving in the United States.

To be clear, we haven’t gotten an exact release date from Rockstar on GTA VI, but based on historical precedent, Rockstar’s blog posts, and Take-Two’s SEC filings, it is likely coming in the fall or winter of 2023.

How it will impact Take-Two’s business

GTA VI, whenever it gets released, should have a huge impact on Take-Two’s business. GTA V sold approximately 40 million copies in the first 12 months after it launched, including $1 billion in sales the first three days after its release. With more people gaming around the world in 2023 compared to 2013, GTA VI can outperform these sales figures. If the game sells 50 million copies within the first 12 months at an average price of $60, that would equal $3 billion in net bookings.

Take-Two (including the Zynga acquisition) is guiding for $5.8 billion to $5.9 billion of bookings this fiscal year, so a $3 billion boost from a new GTA title would be quite meaningful to its financials. And this is not even considering the boost it will give to spending on GTA Online

Durable growth and recurring revenue reign supreme

First-year sales are fun to project, but what shareholders should really be focusing on is whether GTA VI can put up the same durable sales as GTA V and drive consumers to consistently spend on GTA Online. These recurring purchases have been Take-Two’s bread and butter for the last few years with the segment growing at a 21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from fiscal year 2018 through fiscal year 2022. This is a big reason why Take-Two’s stock has been up over 1,000% in the last 10 years, trouncing the S&P 500‘s return over that time frame. 

If the GTA franchise is going to recreate its success, the next installment will have to inspire consumers to play, interact, and spend money on GTA Online. If this happens, Take-Two shareholders will likely be happy holding the stock this decade.

Brett Schafer has positions in Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2023 $115 calls on Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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