The big name developer has been strangely silent.
We have yet to hear any word from Rockstar Games about their next title, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still raking in funds. GTA V continues to be one of the best selling games of all time, but Rockstar has also somewhat quietly released many of their old games on the Playstation Classics section.
As of this writing Rockstar has seven different titles, and one games collection, for purchase out of the 30 titles currently available. That’s nearly a quarter of the available games from the PS2 era currently residing on the PS4. Here’s the list of available titles:
Grand Theft Auto III*
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City*
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas*
*Also available as the GTA: The Trilogy collection
In addition, a Rockstar title has held the top spot each month on the Playstation Classics chart so far this year. “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” was the top earner for 2015 and it didn’t release until December. We don’t have complete sales numbers, but you’d guess it’s lucrative enough as Rockstar Games continues drop these games.
The cost of bringing these games to PS4 is probably minimum enough to see their war chest expand with any moderate sales numbers for these Playstation classics. But there’s another reason Rockstar Games is following this path, and that’s to test the resonance of their intellectual property (IP).
“Manhunt” (originally released in 2003, “Manhunt 2” in 2007), “Bully” (2006) and “Max Payne” (2001, “Max Payne 2” in 2003 and “Max Payne 3” in 2012) are all older properties. By releasing these classics, Rockstar is able to test the waters and see if it’s worth revisiting any of these properties with a new version or sequel. Releasing the classic GTA games alongside them then serves as a benchmark because those games are so well loved they’ll sell well at any point.
So what do these, somewhat limited, numbers tell us? Bully has topped the classics charts for several months and probably holds the most weight among these titles. “Red Dead Redemption” would be the exception, but isn’t in the classics section as it was a 360 and PS3 title, but also isn’t part of Playstation Now. However it will be backwards compatible on Xbox One as of July 8 with the news hitting many outlets — so perhaps that’s the testing ground for that particular IP. Rockstar Games was also suspiciously quiet during E3 and while many expected an announcement for the next Red Dead game, nothing was said during the conference.
So here’s where we’ll get really speculative. I believe Rockstar has Bully and Red Dead sequels in the works, with Manhunt getting a look as the possible third property. Rockstar is in the midst gearing up development for their next game and is using this time to test which title is going to get the push for release in 2017 and which will release in 2019. The popularity of GTA V, especially the online component, has afforded them the opportunity to take stock of their IP to decide where they’ll next place their efforts. They’re in an enviable position and no matter what direction they take we’ll all be closely watching.
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