The "Grand Theft Auto" video game franchise has redefined records in the gaming world, but even with the series' lofty lifetime numbers the "GTA V" edition — released four years ago — is something special.
It was still one of the industry's top three selling titles in 2017 — and its online mode continues to draw an increased number of players and was the single-largest contributor to recurrent consumer spending (microtransactions, subscriptions and other post-release digital content) in Take-Two's just-released fiscal third-quarter earnings.
But an upcoming, and much-anticipated, title from the same company could actually do some damage to its bottom line.
On Oct. 26, Rockstar Games — the Take-Two owned creator and developer of "GTA" — will release its next title: "Red Dead Redemption 2." It's showing all the signs of another smash hit.
While that's cause for investor celebration, it's also raising concerns that it could cannibalize the player base of "GTA Online," the company's golden goose.
"If you play 'Red Dead,' I would think the overlap is about 100 percent with 'Grand Theft Auto,'" said Eric Handler, an analyst at MKM Partners. "I think it's inevitable there's cannibalization."
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick isn't as worried. "GTA Online" has continued to grow, despite several other popular online games emerging since its release, he said. "Red Dead Redemption 2," he told CNBC, will simply add to the company's digital bottom line.
"Any title competes with all titles, whether they're brought out by the same [developer] or a competitive one," he said. "Right now there are many other great titles on the marketplace [but] 'GTA Online' just had its best years ever. ... I think the [competition is] any consumer entertainment property and I wouldn't take that competition lightly. But I think 'Red Dead' will stand alone."