The CEO of Rockstar parent company Take-Two has discussed why Grand Theft Auto doesn’t feature more real-world brand collaborations.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Strauss Zelnick said the decision was a creative one driven by Rockstar, whose blockbuster franchise is generally known for parodying brands and aspects of popular culture rather than promoting them.
However, in December 2020 Rockstar introduced two real-world fashion brands, Civilist and MISBHV, to Grand Theft Auto Online as part of its The Cayo Perico Heist. The collaborations let players buy clothes from both labels at retailers across Los Santos in GTA Online.
But Take-Two boss Zelnick suggested players shouldn’t expect to see an influx of real-world brands in the series any time soon.
“The world of GTA is a fictional world, so to bring real-life brands in, they really have to be iconic and they have to fit within that world,” he said.
“It’s very much a creative decision driven by the team at Rockstar. It’s not a financial decision. We run all of our businesses here in an effort to engage and captivate consumers, and then we figure monetization takes care of itself. We wouldn’t include a brand just based on a financial opportunity in any of our titles.”
Zelnick said other franchises like Take-Two’s NBA and PGA series more naturally lend themselves to featuring brands and even direct advertising.
“When you involve yourself with those games in the real world, you have an expectation of seeing advertisers and sponsors. But you don’t really have that expectation in Grand Theft Auto, except for fictional brands.
“So, to bring a real-world experience in requires a lot of thought and sensitivity to consumers, and I think that’s what Rockstar Games is known for.”
Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online were released for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S in March 2022.
The company also seemingly delayed the mobile version of GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition from the first half of calendar 2022 to later in its current fiscal year ending on March 31, 2023.
Rockstar confirmed in February that Grand Theft Auto 6 is currently in development.