Update: Take-Two clarified the SEC filing, saying that the estimates refer to third-party obligations, not anything internal or first-party. That means this isn’t related to Grand Theft Auto VI (or anything from RockStar).
Original: Take-Two has something big up its sleeve for 2023. A recent SEC filing indicates that the company plans to increase its marketing spend to $89 million during fiscal year 2024—the year preceding March 31, 2024. That amount is more than double the preceding two years and the year following. Analysts predict that’s when Take-Two plans to make an enormous push on its biggest franchise, the one that keeps printing the company money: Grand Theft Auto. Accounting for marketing leading up to release and post-release, that would put the Grand Theft Auto VI release date somewhere in 2023.
Reported by VentureBeat, the recent Take-Two SEC filing shows an updated marketing spending plan for the next five years. In last year’s filing, the spending spike of around $80 million was attributed to FY2023, but this year it has shifted to FY2024. In comparison, FY2021 (this year, up to March 31, 2021) is only $11.8 million, and FY2022, 23, and 25 are each around $40 million or less, which makes FY 2024 a very notable jump to pay attention to. The delay in spending could indicate internal delays, originally having planned for Grand Theft Auto VI to release in 2022, but pushing it a year. COVID-19 could have something to do with that, but Take-Two hasn’t made any comments on the shift in spending.
Analyst Jeff Cohen from investment firm Stephens says that watching previous marketing spend patterns have predicted the releases of other high-profile Rockstar games, particularly Red Dead Redemption 2.
We are not sure how much we should be reading into this shift, but we would note that this disclosure accurately predicted the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 prior to that game’s announcement. [Take-Two management] has spoken very confidently about the pipeline over the next five years and existing live services execution has been excellent. However, the timing of the next Grand Theft Auto remains top-of-mind for investors, particularly with the stock near all-time-highs.
While this in no way confirms anything, and further delays could still happen, it’s a worthwhile peek into Take-Two’s five-year plans. Given the ongoing runaway success of Grand Theft Auto V—and its Grand Theft Auto Online multiplayer component—on the current generation of consoles, Take-Two and Rockstar aren’t in any rush to push out the next game, even if the most recent one did release nearly a decade ago on last-gen consoles. Spacing out its major pillar franchises (Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption) makes sense, as does waiting a few years for next-gen consoles to have a better-established base before launching the next big thing. Either way, Take-Two has big plans around 2023, but whether or not that’s the Grand Theft Auto VI release date remains to be seen.