Even If You Don't Have Kids, You Better Pay Attention To Grand Theft Auto

Posted by

It was just confirmed that Grand Theft Auto IV, which was released on April 29th, 2008, has shattered every single entertainment industry opening…ever – we’re talking music, film, books, you name it – raking in five hundred million dollars in its opening week.

The most successful entertainment launch… ever.

Iron Man who?

Now, let’s be realistic, more people did see Iron Man than bought Grand Theft Auto IV, but for sheer dollars (and who is, really, keeping score on anything else) it wins. Hands down.

No doubt, the game comes with tons of controversy (I often tell people, if they have never heard of Grand Theft Auto, odds are that means their kids are playing it ;). You can read more about how it ranks versus the other big entertainment money grabbers over here: ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’ Races Into Videogame Record Books. Yes, it even rocked the opening week of Halo 3.

Video game Marketing is not that new of a channel. For years big brands have been making their way into everything from sporting games to action adventure. Burger King even went out on their own to create three games for the Xbox gaming console. Video games work on many levels: the messages are very targeted, the game developers usually don’t accept any form of Marketing unless it’s a fit and adds value to the game, and – most importantly – the value is there as they last forever and ever (or, as long as the video game is available).

And, there’s another side: most games have some kind of community and online component as well. Sometimes, they are intrinsically connected, other times they are two separate (but linked) environments. Either way, there’s usually a lot of action, engagement and activity (way more than your average 30-second spot).

Here’s the bigger idea: where does your brand fit when it comes to gaming? I know this channel is not for everyone, but with numbers like Grand Theft Auto, and with more and more consoles offering online communities plus additional online content (not to mention multi-player online action), it’s just a short matter of time before these gaming systems cowboy up and replace/become our entertainment systems.


  1. Hey Mitch
    You know I love when you talk about gaming and marketing… my two loves.
    I think we are at the point where gaming consoles are entertainment systems. Over the last few months the Xbox 360 has turned into an entertainment devices where you can download TV shows, movies and original content… mind you mostly in the US but it’ll go global within a year.. if the lawyers have anything to say. Online communities (clans if you play on the PC) have been a part of the original Xbox since day one and before that we’ve had it with PC gaming as far back as I can remember growing up. The only difference now is that the rest of society, everyone who didn’t get gaming before, is catching up and realizing that gaming isn’t a fad. No one use to get why I wanted to get into the video game industry in high school but it all makes sense to everyone now. With NewsCorp buying IGN (and MySpace within a year), it only validated that gaming is a real business and more mainstream them some care to admit.
    The one thing we have been talking about more this year is having relevant brands in our games. A game is worthless if the in-game ads, advertorial or product placements doesn’t work. Advertisings have been going on in gaming since the 80s but a more recent place we see it is in sport games a la Madden. The end all and be all of sport video games. If you at the stats provided by ESA (www.theesa.com) then you might find a place you can market within gaming. At the end of the day the brand does have to make a seamless appearance in the game or it’s going to alter the experience of playing it.
    Mitch, I think the bigger question is…
    When are people going to realize that gaming is part of the future and isn’t just Pacman or 8bit Mario graphics anymore?

  2. To continue with Duane’s final paragraph above, is it any wonder that the future of entertainment is video games?
    CBC’s radio show/podcast “Search Engine” had a great piece last week on the non-existent link of youth voilence & voilent video games. (http://tinyurl.com/6x5brn) The US Fed. Gov’t funded study, besides finding zero link between violence & vids, found that what most attracted people to video games was complexity, both in characters and in scenarios.
    With the increased available of high-resolution displays, gaming systems and increasingly detailed plots and characters, why would you want to go see a movie, when you can live the exact same scenario via your avatar – whether he be a gun-toting thug, or a yellow, 15% eaten pie.

  3. There’s no doubt that not only is the product popular in and of itself, but that the marketing campaign behind it was well formulated. I’d still be interested to know, however, how much R&D, etc. went into the game’s development and marketing, and how much of that $500 million is profit and how much is just covering the overheard.
    Either way, someone is getting a promotion and raise out of the deal.

  4. GTA 4 is referenced to have cost $100 million to develop. It was money well spent.
    Haven’t seen figures about the marketing budget.
    Interactive company Take Two will make a healthy, healthy profit and then some.

  5. @ CT Moore & J.Oakhurst
    See what they have done for marketing as a whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if they spend twice that for marketing and development. Next to development .. marketing is usually your biggest cost. Take 2 dropping another $100 million on a game they know will be huge isn’t going to be a bad investment at all.

Comments are closed.