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Take-Two profits soar thanks to 'GTA' and 'Red Dead' online spending

People like to spend on virtual goods.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
08.05.19 in AV
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Rockstar Games

Need further proof that Rockstar's online games are the cornerstone of its business these days? You just got it. Publisher Take-Two has reported that its profit jumped 39 percent year-over-year in the spring quarter to a hefty $540.5 million, and the in-game purchases for Rockstar's titles played a large role. Company chief Strauss Zelnick told Hollywood Reporter that GTA Online "actually grew" versus 2018, while Red Dead Online's early performance has "exceeded expectations." Games like NBA 2K19, the Borderlands series and Civilization VI helped, but it's no secret as to which ones were the biggest cash cows.

The timing might have been ideal. While there wasn't a huge GTA Online update in the spring, Red Dead Online exited beta in May with a large update that included more activities and, of course, more gear to buy. The current quarter looks bright, too, with Rockstar recently introducing an honest-to-goodness casino to GTA Online -- it doesn't involve betting real money, but it certainly helps encourage other purchases with real-world cash.

Whether or not that momentum persists is another matter. GTA Online is almost six years old at this point, and it's too soon to say if Red Dead Online will have the legs of its predecessor. There's also the not-so-small matter of next-gen consoles on the horizon. With the PS5 and Project Scarlett Xbox expected to arrive in late 2020, there's a risk that Rockstar's games will feel slightly dated even if they see some improvements from the new hardware. Still, not many people would have predicted that GTA Online would perform so well throughout the current console generation. Even if demand drops, it'll represent a major success.

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