Rockstar Games Cofounder And Grand Theft Auto Writer Dan Houser Leaving Studio In March
“Grand Theft Auto Online”
Credit: Rockstar Games
Topline: While Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto Online hit a record for consumer spending during the holiday quarter and its parent game Grand Theft Auto V reached 120 million copies sold, Take-Two Interactive saw its stock dip earlier this week as one of the games’ key architects, Dan House, announced his departure.
Revenue from in-game spending improved 15% in Q4, helped in no small part by Grand Theft Auto Online‘s 54% increase in recurrent spending over the quarter, as well as Rockstar’s newer Red Dead Online, which tripled its recurrent spending year-over-year and had its highest player count in December.
In-game spending accounted for 37% of Take-Two’s $930 million of revenue, the latter representing a 26% decline that the company attributed to Rockstar’s massive launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, which has now sold 29 million copies.
Rockstar’s higher-than-expected performance helped buoy that of Take-Two’s other mainstay franchises, NBA 2K and WWE 2K: WWE 2K20 was a buggy mess at launch and resulted in lackluster sales, and while NBA 2K20 is selling slightly better than its predecessor with 8 million copies shipped, Take-Two doesn’t expect its lifetime net revenues to become a series best.
Two other releases for Take-Two continue to perform well: Borderlands 3 reached 8 million copies sold, while The Outer Worlds is exceeding expectations with 2 million units shipped.
Net income for the quarter was 9% lower at $163.6 million, resulting in an earnings per share of $1.43, which missed analyst consensus estimates of $1.73 and caused a 9% dive in stock price after the market closed.
This week, Take-Two announced that Houser, who also co-wrote Red Dead Redemption 2, has been on an extended break since last spring and will be departing the studio he and his brother Sam built in March.
Crucial Quote: “We’re grateful to Dan for his contributions,” Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told Forbes. “The label is very much a team effort. That team is led by Sam Houser, who’s president of the label and founded Rockstar many years ago. Sam and I work together very closely. He’s an extraordinary player-coach and leads his team of thousands of people very effectively to create the highest quality interactive entertainment known to man. And I fully expect that to continue. And I would observe the calendar 2019 and so far calendar 2020 has been a year of extraordinary achievement for Rockstar Games.”
And on the success of Grand Theft Auto Online, Zelnick told Forbes: “We had an outlook that Grand Theft Auto Online would moderate in this fiscal year and then we saw that Grand Theft Auto Online would be up sequentially year-over-year, now we believe Grand Theft Auto Online will set a record in fiscal 2020.”
Big Number: $725 million. That’s how much Red Dead Redemption 2 sold within 72 hours of launch.