Take Two (Rockstar Owners – makers of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption) just Acquired Zynga (maker of Farmville and other mobile f2p games). Read this sentence again, slowly. What does this mean for the future of Grand Theft Auto on mobile?
Your Answer Upfront:
In a letter to shareholders, Take-Two’s management body mentioned that they’re looking into bringing more of their established IP’s (GTA, Read Dead Redemption for example) to mobile markets while optimizing recurrent consumer spending. This means that we can expect to see Zynga-fied GTA games with a freemium business model. Think less GTA SA, IV, V and more GTA Online + Casino (in my opinion).
We’re going to break down the news about Take Two’s acquisition, explain why they acquired the F2P gaming giant and then we’re going to explain what that means for the future of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto on mobile phones.
The News Story
According to the Press Release put out by Take-Two, they are set to acquire Zynga and incorporate it in their portfolio of studios. The transaction is expected to be completed by 2023 if no regulators step in to stop the acquisition.
Take-Two mention that their acquisition of Zynga marks the company’s foray into the mobile game market (like they don’t actually have any games already in the mobile market, but more on this later in the article), and they go on saying that this will help establish T2 as one of the biggest and most diversified mobile game publishers in the industry.
Here’s two quotes that I’ll refer to through the rest of this article:
This strategic combination brings together our best-in-class console and PC franchises, with a market-leading, diversified mobile publishing platform that has a rich history of innovation and creativity. Zynga also has a highly talented and deeply experienced team, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Take-Two family in the coming monthsStrauss Zelnick
Chairman and CEO of Take-Two.
“Combining Zynga’s expertise in mobile and next-generation platforms with Take-Two’s best-in-class capabilities and intellectual property will enable us to further advance our mission to connect the world through games while achieving significant growth and synergies together”Frank Gibeau
CEO of Zynga
What does Take-Two’s acquisition of Zynga mean for the mobile gaming market and GTA on mobile?
Two points on the above quotes:
- It’s not actually Take-Two’s first steps into the mobile market (and they mention later in the press release). The company led by Strauss Zelnick actually has a lot of games and IP’s already published on both iOS and Android. Games like NBA 2K, GTA: SA, Civilization are available on mobile platforms and those IP’s are owned by T2.
- When Frank Gibeau’s says “combining Zynga’s Mobile expertise in mobile and Take-Two’s intellectual property” what he means is (in my interpretation) “we’re gonna take GTA, RDR and other big IP’s and turn them into extremely monetizable mobile games where players keep spending money on and in them ”. Don’t believe me? Check out the following quote:
Creation of new mobile games for many of the iconic franchises within Take-Two’s portfolio of intellectual property. Take-Two has an extensive catalog of commercially and critically successful console and PC titles with engaged and loyal communities of players, and there is a meaningful opportunity to create mobile games and new cross-platform experiences for many of these properties.
Zynga’s nearly 3,000 employees include highly-talented mobile developers, paving the way for Take-Two to accelerate this strategic initiative and introduce its iconic intellectual properties across the fastest-growing platform in the industry.
Ability to optimize RCS by leveraging the collective knowledge across both companies. Both Take-Two and Zynga have extensive capabilities to engage players through live operations (“LiveOps”) and RCS initiatives. By combining resources and proven acumen, the teams at Take-Two and Zynga will deploy best-in-class practices throughout the organization to enhance and grow existing titles across the portfolio.From Take-Two’s press release.
I underlined the important passages. RCS means recurring customer spending.
What this means that there’s a pretty big chance we have to get used to GTA: Online becoming the norm and standard for GTA Games. You can say goodbye to your dreams of Grand Theft Auto 4 and 5 ever dropping on mobile as full featured premium games.
What we can probably expect is GTA: Online Zynga edition. There’s a lot of opportunity for shenanigans with those extremely powerful pieces of Intellectual Property.
I’m not saying that GTA on mobile is going to become a freemium, hypercasual-like, ad filled game. I’m just saying that GTA and RDR on mobile is going to become a freemium, casino, pay2win styled game.
No, ads can hurt the IP so at least initially, they won’t be used in anything GTA-related. And Take-Two’s gonna keep the IP’s far away from the hypercasual side of the market. But a standalone casino-themed GTA game? I’ll be surprised if that’s not one of the first things to happen. Heck, I’m betting that Take-Two already gas Rockstar working on it.
FAQ and Keypoints Section
How Much Did Take Two Pay to Acquire Zynga
Take-Two will pay a record breaking $12.7 billion dollars in order to acquire Zynga’s business, customers, intellectual properties, know-how AND staff.
When will Take-Two and Zynga’s Acquisition Deal be closed?
If regulatory approval is received, then the deal can be completed by the end of first quarter in 2023.
What IP’s did Take-Two obtain from the Zynga Acquisition Deal?
Take-Two will own established mobile IP’s such as CSR Racing™, Empires & Puzzles™, FarmVille™, Golf Rival™, Hair Challenge™, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells™, High Heels! ™, Merge Dragons!™, Toon Blast™, Toy Blast™, Words With Friends™, and Zynga Poker™.
Where To Next?
You’ve reached the end of this article and hopefully you now have a better understanding on why Take-Two acquired Zynga and what that means about the future of Grand Theft Auto on mobile. I write extensively about the mobile gaming industry, their tactics and how greed influences a game’s design, subjects which were brought up in this post.
I believe that you might be interested in more articles on game monetisation. So if you want to stick around, you can check out “How Do Free Mobile Games Make money“, “Why Do Mobile Games Have Fake Ads” and “Why Do Mobile Games Have In-App Purchases“.
There’s also a monster post (about 4000 words) that answers the question: “How Hard Is It To Make A Mobile Game“. It goes in depth with actual examples on how Experience, Resources and Financials affect the difficulty of developing and releasing new mobile games!
If you like our content and want to stay up-to-date, you can subscribe via the mailing list widget on this page! Or give us a follow on twitter. Is there something else you’d want covered on our Best Smartphone Games blog? Let us know in a comment below.
4 thoughts on “The Future of Grand Theft Auto on mobile doesn’t look good”
My confidence in T2/Rockstar as a company that cares about quality over profit when it comes to mobile games especially wasn’t high anyway. This deal with Zynga just confirms that.
The fact that when their premium GTA games (ie, people had paid money for) stopped working for a lot of people on Android 11 there was a complete silence on their part that showed contempt for their customers. Zynga specialise in consumer contempt, so I suppose it’s a great match…
It almost feels personal to me – my family come from Dundee where the original company started out as DMA design and produced classics such as Lemmings as an indie outfit. My cousin went on one of the first computer game design degree courses at the local university, the city museum has a section devoted to them, but they’ve stopped being a source of civic pride for quite some time. That’s a digression though.
Sadly we have to brace ourselves for more things like this. But where companies like T2/Rockstar go off the rails other people are there to pickup the slack. As industries usually have cyclic periods of boom and bust, I’m expecting a bigger crash and a reset of the status quo in the next 10 or so years – unless the industry gets reinvigorated with new mediums (like MR is starting to look like).
What can you tell me about your cousin? Is he/her still in game development nowadays?
No longer in the gaming industry but working as a coder/project manager for some place (can’t remember exactly what they do now, but not game related)
He enjoyed the course, but we’re talking early noughties before smartphones were a thing, so it was largely focused on PlayStation and PC at the time. The course was pretty intense, one of the modules was learning business Japanese. But he’s doing something stable that makes him happy now (and knowing as we do now about the working culture in houses like Rockstar and many others, I doubt he’d be happy doing that)