The trailer for the highly anticipated sixth game in the Grand Theft Auto video game series was released ahead of schedule on Monday (4 December), after it was leaked on X early. 

The account that leaked the trailer less than 24 hours before it was due to release was suspended from the platform quickly – confirming to fans that it was real. 

Despite the quick takedown, the post had thousands of likes and replies with many people viewing it and saving it for themselves. 

Grand Theft Auto maker Rockstar followed the takedown with an official release of the trailer on its social media channels. 

The upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto 6 is not only highly anticipated by fans of the series, the entire gaming industry is also bracing for its impact. 

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The previous entry, Grand Theft Auto 5, is one of the most successful video games of all time. It is estimated to have sold over 180 million units in its lifetime and generated $7.7bn to date. 

Can Grand Theft Auto 6 replicate success?

As stated by Jack Bumby, senior editor at research company GlobalData, Grand Theft Auto is an “interesting case” in the gaming industry as it doesn’t rely on any of the emerging trends for its success. 

“By all metrics, mobile gaming is the future of the industry [and] Esports will make huge amounts of money while new technologies like augmented reality will become commonplace,” Bumby wrote in a blog post for GlobalData. 

“But Grand Theft Auto, and Rockstar’s games in general, feature none of these trends,” he added.

However, Rockstar and its parent company Take-Two have made an unprecedented amount of money riding the trend of e-commerce in gaming since Grand Theft Auto 5’s release in 2013.

As stated in GlobalData’s upcoming Tech, Media, and Telecom Themes 2024 report: “Microtransactions are a staple revenue model for game publishers,” according to Bumby.

Microtransactions are a business model where users can purchase virtual goods or currency with micropayments within a game. This has led to a whole manner of controversy in the past, with some US lawmakers even pushing to ban the model. 

But GTA 5, specifically its multiplayer portion “Grand Theft Auto Online” has seen incredible success with the microtransaction model. 

Grand Theft Auto Online, to the outside non-gaming eye, is effectively an interactive shopping centre. Players are able to purchase everything in-game; from flashy new clothes and cars, to entire apartment blocks.

Recent reports show that Rockstar recently acquired, a modding team that has helped produce mods for its previous games which help players live out realistic and fleshed out lives.

“This acquisition suggests that the next iteration of Grand Theft Auto Online will be more role playing-focused, pushing it into the realm of metaverse-adjacent games like Fortnite and ROBLOX,” Bumby wrote.

It’s clear that Rockstar and Take-Two will be betting on the same success for Grand Theft Auto – but it’s a huge feat to achieve twice.

In 2018, the second installment of Rockstar’s wild west franchise, Red Dead Redemption 2, was met with critical acclaim and has since been hailed one of the greatest video games ever made.

However, the online portion, Red Dead Online, failed to capture the attention and wallets of gamers like Grand Theft Auto Online did.

‘It could be that the analog world of cowboys did not lend itself well to the flying motorcycles and fighter jets that gamers came to expect from Grand Theft Auto Online, or it could be that Rockstar struggled to monetise the sale of horses, revolvers, and cowboy hats,” Bumby wrote.

Grand Theft Auto 6 has been rumoured as being one of the most expensive video games ever made. It’s clear that Rockstar will be betting on its multiplayer portion to deliver the same unprecedented returns through microtransactions like Grand Theft Auto 5.

Grand Theft Auto 6 has been given an official release date of 2025.