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Giving away GTA 5 on the Epic Store only boosted game sales and GTA Online revenue

Not even giving the game away for free could slow down GTA 5's momentum.

Take-Two had a record-setting quarter thanks to its ongoing games. As part of the publisher's earnings for Q1 of FY2021, CEO Strauss Zelnick touched on the performance of GTA 5 and GTA Online, which somehow continue to set new records.

More specifically, the company contextualised the decision to offer the game for free on Epic Games Store for a limited time in May. You'd think that giving the game away for free would negatively impact revenue, but it had the opposite effect.

In the six weeks following the promotion, GTA 5 not only continued to sell well, it sold more copies than any previous year in the same period. Lifetime sales now stand at 135 million.

Cover image for YouTube video

Broadly, the first quarter saw GTA Online set new engagement and revenue records. This period is now the game's second-best ever for the number of new players since the 2013 launch, in part motivated by the EGS freebie.

Monthly active user numbers continue to be strong, and have been since the launch of the Diamond Casino & Resort update back in July last year. All the way until May 2020, the game has been setting "sequential records" in average monthly active users. Take-Two reckons GTA Online will set a new revenue record by the end of FY2021.

GTA 5 won't stop expanding to new platforms, as the game is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X in the second half of next year. A standalone version of GTA Online will be available to PlayStation Plus members within the first three months for free.

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Sherif Saed


Sherif (he/him) is VG247’s go-to shooter and Souls-likes person. Whether it’s news, reviews, or op-eds – Sherif is always eager to tell you about video games. He's one of VG247's most veteran writers, with 10+ years experience on the site.