13/07/2021   Louise Shorthouse
How Rockstar uses subscription services and tactical storefront deals to maintain momentum for Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 and their online versions

While Take Two has publicly spoken to downplay the impact of subscription services on the high-end gaming space, Rockstar, the publisher under parent company Take-Two, has successfully implemented one of the more sophisticated subscription service strategies for its leading titles.

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) is one of few titles that has been added to Xbox Game Pass, removed, and then re-introduced at a later date. Rather than acting as a marketing tool for a new release, as seen with the likes of Ubisoft’s Division franchise and Bethesda’s Fallout series, GTA V is rotated across services and storefronts in order to maximise returns in the form of audience reach, user acquisition and spend.

Subscription services that reach meaningful scale are clearly very beneficial for online multiplayer games which only thrive as long as they can maintain a sizeable player-base. GTA V and Read Dead Redemption 2 (RDR 2) both have online components: GTA Online and Red Dead Online. For GTA V, at least, the online experience is what fuels the game’s enduring success, and offerings such as Game Pass represent an engaged, ready-made audience of millions.

By shifting GTA V–and to a lesser extent, RDR 2–in and out of services and storefronts across an extended period of time, Rockstar is consistently re-engaging and re-monetising players on different platforms, from different demographics, and with different access points to gaming. PC and console gamers are exposed to these titles on multiple fronts, but GTA V has also recently become available to mobile gamers through Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Ampere’s Games–Subscription service tracks the subscription opportunity in the games market: a combination of market data, title analytics and consumer research provides a holistic view of this fast-moving segment.

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