Rockstar Games recently announced that its best selling title, Grand Theft Auto 5, will be launching on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in 2021. When this happens, the game will have been ported to platforms spanning three generations of consoles, as well as PC.
However, many current fans don't intend to triple-dip.
Following the announcement, we were curious about how many of our readers - the majority of whom are active players - plan to purchase the game again when the next-gen ports are released, and the numbers are telling.
As you can see, fans were asked "If you own GTA 5 already AND will be upgrading your console to the PS5 or Xbox Series X, do you plan on buying GTA 5 again for your new system?" With the poll now ended, just 28% of voters that own GTA 5 already said that they will definitely buy the game again in 2021.
GTA 5 was first launched on Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2013, and has since expanded to the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The first two consoles have even been dropped from content support since then, with only the platforms sporting stronger hardware getting ongoing DLC.
The topic of the game's immense, unprecedented success is one we have delved into several times here at GTABOOM, due to how multifaceted a situation it is.
Being released and re-released on so many platforms at different times was a huge boon to sales figures, and back when the game made the upgrade to PS4 and Xbox One, many players were returning from the earlier versions, having bought the game twice. A smaller but still significant number bought it again on PC.
At the same time, every new release also bolstered the player numbers with entirely new fans who didn't own the game before on other systems. So, for whom is the latest port mainly made for?
It is pretty clear that the intended audience will be completely new players - or perhaps those who enjoyed GTA 5 on PS3 and Xbox 360 but didn't upgrade - instead of calling existing fans back for a second, third, or in some rare cases, fourth round.
The low number of people planning to buy GTA 5 again isn't at all surprising for one specific reason - backwards compatibility. The Xbox Series X is confirmed to be completely backwards compatible, and while the specifics of backwards compatibility on PS5 are still murky, even the most conservative estimates indicate GTA 5 will be.
This means that if you own the game on either current generation console, and upgrade your system, you don't even need to buy the new port to play the game on the next-gen consoles. We're guessing playing a backwards compatible PS4 version on a PS5 system won't grant you the next-gen improvements, but you'll still get the same experience you're enjoying now.
Another interesting thing to note is that people who currently own GTA 5 include those who own it on PC of course. The PC version of GTA 5 will be getting all of the next-gen improvements that the 2021 console ports are getting, and Rockstar has always kept content and feature parity between the PC and the latest console versions. It makes sense - after all, a strong PC is capable of as much and more as even the newest consoles.
All that being said, another thing to consider is that if these numbers are an accurate reflection of the general opinion of the playerbase, we're talking a quarter of the players for one of the best selling games of all time. GTA 5 recently crossed the 130 million shipped copies milestone, so even a small percentage of those players will translate to huge numbers.
Considering the fact that GTA Online, the multiplayer component and arguably main draw for casual players, is going free to play with the switch to next-gen, Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive likely have moderate expectations for sales of the port. Current players can play via backwards compatibility, and if new players only care about Online they won't need to buy the game.
This is offset by the fact that microtransaction sales in Online make up the overwhelming majority of the revenue that Take-Two earns via GTA 5. This means that the next-gen port doesn't even need to be a best seller, the company still won't take even the slightest of hits - and looking at how strong sales still are, after all these years, we're betting that it will be a bestseller regardless.
We're curious to see how these numbers will compare to actual sales figures when GTA 5 launches on next-gen consoles in 2021.