Take-Two Interactive is a company that knows how to spot successful business ventures and maximise the profitability of said ventures. Grand Theft Auto 5 is a prime case study to prove this.
Take-Two also knows just how lucrative mobile gaming is, which is why they recently acquired a mobile game developer, Social Point, and have been porting GTA games to mobile platforms steadily throughout the years.
Question is, when will these two angles meet?
Grand Theft Auto 5 has been released and re-released across five platforms, has sold over 95 million copies and continues to receive steady content support almost five years after initial release due to a large and dedicated player base. It keeps selling loads of copies month over month and the microtransaction system is a key revenue stream for Take-Two.
Considering the success of the 3D era GTA games (III, Liberty City Stories Vice City, Vice City Stories, San Andreas) that were ported to mobile in spite of being paid apps (versus being free to play) it means that an even more popular and mainstream instalment like GTA 5 would be even better received.
Of course, the reason it hasn’t yet appeared on mobile is simple – technical limitations.
While the hardware capabilities of mobile devices are increasing rapidly and the boundaries of what can be achieved in mobile games in terms of visuals, detail, size and scope increase with them, the most successful mobile games still opt for a simple, cartoony art direction and do not invest in flashy graphics for the sake of reaching the broadest audience possible.
That said, several games are pushing the envelope – just look at what Bethesda pulled off with The Elder Scrolls: Blades, shown at this year’s E3.
GTA 5 was released during the dusk of the 7th generation of consoles and represented the peak of what the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 can pull off. When the enhanced edition was released for the current generation a year later, Rockstar impressed once again. While it isn’t on the top in that regard anymore (4 years can do that) it’s still a looker.
Do not misconstrue our focus on graphics as saying they are the most important aspect of a game, however, they are the primary source of hardware requirements which is why they are relevant to this discussion. Another important thing about GTA 5 is the extreme depth of detail in the game’s open world, with minimal reuse of assets, complex AI programming and a stunningly accurate fictional rendition of Los Angeles.
All that detail, all those textures and models, add up to a huge installation size – 65GB on PC sans DLC. While everything would be downsized significantly for a mobile port, current technology likely can’t accommodate a game of this scale on mobile devices. Even before speaking about a potential mobile port of GTA 5, we need to get over GTA 4 first which also is impossible at present – but not for long.
There definitely is interest in playing GTA 5 on the go already.
With the Nintendo Switch getting recently and graphically demanding games like Wolfenstein 2, hope of getting the game ported to the handheld/home console hybrid is abound. Additionally, methods of streaming games from consoles and PCs to phones have allowed players to, through unofficial means, play GTA 5 on mobiles already. Gaming on the go seems to be the future of the medium, with non-laptop mobile gaming PCs also appearing steadily.
The mobile market is one of the most saturated and dynamic branches of the video game industry. Short-lived fads rocket to the top of the lists and fall down every other week, making more than enough money in their brief stints while some classic giants continue to make obscene amounts of money.
Although freemium games are usually the titles with the biggest download and revenue counts, the premium segment is alive and well. GTA 5 has defied most sales trends with its continuing success and in spite of its age, through word-of-mouth and continued content support, it is still a hugely relevant element of popular culture.
This aspect makes it highly adaptable to the trend-fuelled mobile game market where the bigger a game is, the bigger it will get. Word of mouth alone would keep GTA 5 alive, because who doesn’t want to play the game that everyone is playing? When technology reaches the point where a game of this scope and size becomes viable on mobile devices, you can bet that Take-Two won’t give up this opportunity.
Unless some extreme unforeseen circumstance arises, GTA 5 coming to mobile isn’t a question of if, but of when. Take-Two and Rockstar don’t turn down good business opportunities if they see them and this fits that bill perfectly. It’s on mobile device manufacturers now to up their game and release devices to rival the PCs and consoles of today – and some are already on the case.
This post was written by Logan Smith. Logan enjoys surfing almost just as much as he enjoys gaming. He’s owned every PlayStation since the PSX and has been swimming in the ocean since he could walk. Logan is also one of the few remaining gamers to have avoided playing Fortnite to date and hopes that the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in a few months will kill off any such urges entirely. Follow him on Twitter.