The gaming press is reporting that GTA V is the most expensive game ever made, with a marketing and development budget of around £170 million (or $265 million). The source is a Scottish newspaper called The Scotsman. There’s no way we could verify this information, but given the big budgets we’ve heard of lately, this is entirely possible. The first questions that come to mind when you read this are something along the line of exactly how many units Rockstar intends to sell and how much money they are going to make this year. It got me thinking and I’ve reached a possible answer, so let’s find out together.
Based on earlier analysis, I concluded that multi-platform AAA titles get lots of preorders, close to 35% from all the sales during their first month. Now, we know that VGChartz is reporting US preorders, which are now totaling 2.62 mil. units for both Xbox 360 and PS3. There’s a bit more than one week left until the game launches, so at the current rate of preorders we’ll probably see around 2.8 mil. units preordered in the USA (4.82 mil. units for Xbox 360 and 3.18 mil. units for the PS3).
This means that GTA V will sell in the USA 8 mil. units during its first month. This is extremely important, as this kind of information lets us estimate the rest of the world sales (including Europe). I will use the data we have for GTA IV. On the Xbox 360, that title sold worldwide 66% of all the sales from the USA. On the PS3, it sold 20% more than all the units sold in the USA. Let’s do the math.
We estimated that GTA V for Xbox 360 will sell 4.82 mil. units during its first month. This means that it will sale worldwide (except USA) 3.18 mil. units. For the PS3 version of the game, we estimated 3.18 mil. units sold during its first month. This means worldwide sales (except USA) of 3.82 mil. units.
So, GTA V will sell during its first month 8 mil. units in the USA and 7 mil. units everywhere else. That’s a total of 15 mil. units until middle of October 2013. But how much will GTA V sell until the end of the year?
GTA IV did 8.5 mil. units in a month (worldwide) and 10 mil. units in three and a half months (also worldwide). If GTA V does 15 mil. units worldwide in a month, so almost double GTA IV did, that we can expect it to sell between 18-20 mil. units by the end of 2013.
Now factor in the $265 mil. budget. That’s lot, but 20 mil. units in three and a half months is also a lot. Let’s see how much money GTA V can make in 2013 and I'm not talking about Rockstar's share, but the entire revenue generated by the game. Since most of the sales will be in the USA and Europe and the game’s price is 60 dollars/euros, then we can take a 70$ average and in this case GTA V makes $1.4 bn.
Well, that’s not all, as there’s also a special edition priced $80 and a collectors’ edition priced $150. If they bump up that average revenue to 80-85 dollars/unit, then we can estimate the entire revenue to around $1.6-1.7 bn.
That’s six times their investment in a little more than three months and that’s just the main game for the first two platforms. I’m sure there will be DLCs, probably a PC version, a GOTY or Complete version for all the platforms and so on. GTA V really has the potential to get Rockstar at least $1 bn revenue in 2013, and close to $1.5 bn one year from now depending on their alternative revenue sources mentioned earlier. The online multiplayer component seems to be a key asset this time, though I also hope for at least two more stories like they did with GTA IV.
So what’s that got to do with us? Well, we’re gamers and we love to play games from established franchises and publishers. That’s why we’ll buy GTA V and I’m sure it will be the most succesful game in history, at least until the next hit comes along and given the revenue Rockstar gets, it’d better be the best GTA ever or else… Rockstar, are you listening? It’d better be the best GTA ever or else… the bigger they are, the harder they fall.