GTA could last as long as James Bond (aka 60 years) says Take-Two

When asked about the shelf life of its franchises, Take-Two’s CEO suggests Grand Theft Auto could stay popular for decades.

The Grand Theft Auto series seems to be going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. The recently released remasters of three classic GTA games has been criticised for its visuals, missing content, and bugs. And judging by the reactions to next year’s GTA 5 re-release, fans are growing more and more irate over the lack of a GTA 6 announcement.

Still, this doesn’t change the fact that Grand Theft Auto is one of the most successful gaming franchises of all time and, according to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, it could keep going for decades to come.

While speaking at the Jefferies Virtual Global Interactive Entertainment Conference (as transcribed by VGC), Zelnick was asked about the shelf life of Take-Two’s core franchises, such as GTA, Red Dead, and Borderlands.

In GTA’s case, Zelnick believes it has the capacity to be as long-running as the James Bond franchise. ‘If it’s really, really great it will keep going. I don’t know if you saw it, I just saw the new Bond film, that was great. And you would like every franchise to be James Bond.

‘There are precious few entertainment franchises of any sort that fall into that category, but they do exist. And I think GTA is one of them, I think Red Dead is one of them, NBA is obviously one of them because the game [of basketball] will continue to exist.’

He later added: ‘I’ve always said that annualising non-sports titles runs the risk of burning out intellectual property even if it’s good, so we take the time to make something that we think is incredibly phenomenal and we also rest titles intentionally so that there’s pent-up demand for that title so that it’s a special event. I go and see a Bond film because there isn’t another one in two months – I’m going to see every Bond film.’

It’s certainly a bold claim considering the Bond movies have been ongoing since the early 60s, while the first Grand Theft Auto game only released in 1997. While it’s by no means impossible, the thought of the series persisting for another 40 or so years is difficult to imagine, and Zelnick does admit that it’s not something the company is willing to bet on entirely.

‘Are these franchises permanent? Look, nothing’s permanent, but they can be very, very long-lasting. That said, we don’t bet on that, which is why we’re launching new intellectual properties, it’s why of our release schedule over the next three years, 56% of it is new intellectual property. That’s super risky, our hit ratio will be much lower than it would be if you went and did the franchises, it has to be, but we have to do it because our franchises are not permanent.’

Zelnick’s comment about avoiding annualising non-sports games could be read as an explanation for why GTA 6 is taking so long. Although, judging by the feverish demand for it (with one fan storming a game show to express their frustration with the wait), the plan to drum up hype for the next GTA game may have worked too well.

Not counting remasters or re-releases, the last mainline game was Grand Theft Auto 5 from 2013, which was eight years ago. Rockstar has regularly updated Grand Theft Auto Online in that time, but people are clearly starving for an entirely new title.

If recent rumours are to be believed, GTA 6 was meant to be announced last year but development was restarted completely from scratch, following the departure of Rockstar co-founder and lead writer Dan Houser.

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