Rockstar Games: Creating Controversy and Commanding Buzz


Image from: GTA V / Shutterstock

Since the original Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997, Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, has been surrounded by controversy. By creating games like those in the Grand Theft Auto series that openly showcase violence and sexuality, Rockstar is no stranger to pushing the envelope in terms of game content. But that same controversy has also driven tremendous success with each new game in the GTA franchise, success that’s sure to be repeated with the latest installment, GTA V (even without a concrete release date).

You can get a sense of the hype that Rockstar generates for their games by looking at the spikes in unique visitors to over the last two years. As you can see on the graph below, the traffic spikes coincide with the release of their enormously popular games, Red Dead Redemption in May 2010 and L.A. Noire in May 2011.

unique visitors to rockstargames

More recently, the Rockstar hype machine has been at work again when they announced the trailer for the highly anticipated next installment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, GTA V. Even the announcement (10/25) that a teaser trailer would be released (11/2) generated a solid spike in daily reach and attention, as seen below. At this point in the franchise’s history, it’s almost as if the game sells itself. Hours after the trailer was released, #GrandTheftAutoMemories was a trending topic on Twitter, and there are already predictions about what controversial features the game will include this time.

daily reach and attention to rockstargames

Looks like GTA V will be good for business as well. Despite a glaring lack of information about the game, just the knowledge that a trailer would be released on November 2 drove stock prices for Take-Two Interaction up nearly 7%!

If you haven’t yet, check out the trailer below! Are you looking forward to the newest GTA installment? If you’re a follower of the franchise, what features would you like Rockstar to include in the game? Do you think that too much of the marketing for Grand Theft Auto relies on its controversial nature?

About Jared DeLuca:
Jared is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Millward Brown Digital. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.