Why is Grand Theft Auto 6 unlikely to incorporate cryptocurrencies?

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Rumors suggesting that Grand Theft Auto 6 will incorporate cryptocurrencies surface every once in a while, fueling expectations that the highly awaited game may incorporate digital assets as rewards for players, nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as in-game goods, or even as part of the storyline’s humor.

The most recent speculations in the crypto community emerged last week on Twitter, but so far, there’s no indication that Rockstar Games, publisher of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, plans to jump into Web3. Cointelegraph looked at the latest rumors and facts about the possibility of an upcoming crypto GTA.

Play-to-Earn is no longer seen as an efficient business model

Play-to-earn (P2E) games allow users to earn cryptocurrencies by playing games. The business model, however, has been deemed as unsustainable, despite the excitement over blockchain-based games.

During the NFT.NYC in April, game publishers and developers highlighted that the industry is exploring alternatives to replace the P2E business model amid the crypto prices downturn.

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“It’s a model that is not sustainable at all,” said Chase Freo, CEO of gaming platform OP Games during a panel at the event, giving the example of Axie Infinity’s shift in some of its flagship titles.

During the panel discussion, Paul Flanagan, the head of business development at CM Games, an Estonian mobile game developer, voiced his opinion on the core issue surrounding P2E models. He described them as “zero-sum” and highlighted their resemblance to Ponzi schemes. Flanagan mentioned that while branding sponsorship could potentially serve as a viable revenue source, its effectiveness in practice remains to be seen.

According to Statista, Grand Theft Auto 5 has sold over 180 million units worldwide since 2015, making it one of the most successful game titles ever released. Based on estimates on the revenue of Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive, over $8 billion has been generated by the franchise over the last decade. Considering these figures, Grand Theft Auto has been a profitable title so far. Shifting to a P2E model would be a risky venture for Rockstar.

Lifetime unit sales generated by Grand Theft Auto 5 worldwide as of May 2023. Source: Take-Two Interactive, Statista.

Rockstar’s NFT ban

Last November, Rockstar updated its website to make clear that fan-operated servers for Grand Theft Auto 5 could no longer utilize crypto assets, specifically NFTs.

A fan-operated server allows modifications to a PC game and interaction between players. As for Grand Theft Auto, some servers implemented NFTs to give players ownership of in-game goods, such as cars and weapons. Rockstar’s ban was a setback to fans hoping for NFTs in the franchise.

Lastly, the franchise is known for its humorous style. Many crypto enthusiasts believe that the next Grand Theft Auto could include crypto elements in its narrative, which would justify the years of rumors about the game taking a crypto approach. 

Cointelegraph reached out to Rockstar regarding the rumors, but did not receive an immediate response. As of now, the company has neither denied nor confirmed GTA6’s crypto status. The title is expected to be released in 2024.

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