Correction: Take-Two has made it clear to GamesBeat that this key figure for marketing obligations only relates to contracts with third parties. It doesn't reflect the marketing budget for internal studios like Rockstar Games. This means that this does not display a timeline for Grand Theft Auto VI. I apologize for this misleading mistake.
Take-Two expects to spend $ 89 million on marketing in the twelve-month period ending March 31, 2024. This is more than double the marketing budget for any other fiscal year in the next half decade. according to the company's latest 10K SEC filing. Why is Take-Two planning to spend so much more on marketing in 2024? One of the most likely explanations is when the publisher expects to release Grand Theft Auto VI. According to analyst Jeff Cohen from investment firm Stephens.
Every year, Take-Two submits a 10-K with numerous financial details, including its marketing spending plans for each year for the next five years. In its previous 10K mode, Take-Two informed investors of an increase in marketing costs for the 2023 financial year. However, these expenses have now shifted to the 2024 financial year. This spending movement probably reflects Rockstar Games' current plans to release Grand Theft Auto VI.
Cohen points out that this marketing metric previously predicted other rock star releases.
"We are not sure how much we should read into this shift, but we would find that this disclosure accurately predicted the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 before the game was announced," Cohen wrote in a message to investors. “(Take-Two-Management) has spoken very confidently about the pipeline for the next five years, and the execution of existing live services has been excellent. However, the timing for the next Grand Theft Auto remains in the foreground for investors, especially when the stock hits almost all-time highs. "
If Cohen is right, Rockstar is currently planning to release GTA VI between April 2023 and March 2024. This could of course change if the game encounters delays. And with the continued success of GTA Online, Grand Theft Auto V's online component that handles millions of microtransactions, Rockstar is in no hurry.
Does Grand Theft Auto VI make sense in 2023?
Grand Theft Auto VI in 2023 seems far away. After all, that's 10 years after Grand Theft Auto V started in 2013. However, this timing is likely due to a number of factors.
First, Rockstar wants to wait until the next generation consoles are better established, since Grand Theft Auto VI is not ready for the current generation. The studio doesn't want to leave money on the table by selling to 25 million next generation people in 2022 if it could reach a larger customer base a year later if people buy more consoles.
Rockstar is also in no hurry to replace Grand Theft Auto V. The game continues to sell month after month, and GTA Online brings a lot of revenue. A GTA-VI must absorb this momentum seamlessly. So it's important that Rockstar does the game right. It is even more important to find out how the GTA online audience can be switched to potential follow-up in GTA VI.
It will take some time to work out and implement this plan. And a 2023 release offers a lot of runways to find out.