Every new technology needs a breakthrough before becoming a real success. The PC computer turned heads with early spreadsheet applications like Lotus 1-2-3 and VisiCalc. Where would the Internet and its gigantic economy be today without the Mosaic and Netscape browsers of the early 1990s? Digital video streams are currently stealing market share from cable, satellite, broadcast and cinema video options, and netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) launched this revolution ten years ago. You get the drift. An innovator (or sometimes a small group of them) provides the early excitement that makes the target audience sit up and take notice.
Cryptocurrencies are still looking for that magic moment after a number of false starts. Rumor has it that this video game developer Interactive Take-Two (NASDAQ: TWO) could provide initial fuel for large-scale crypto fires.
What is the problem ?
Auto grand theft 5 (GTA 5) is the second best-selling video game of all time, with 165 million units sold since its release in 2013. Even today, nine years later, GTA 5 remains one of Take-Two’s biggest and highest-grossing titles. According to data from GamesIndustry.biz, GTA 5 was the best-selling game title in Europe in August 2022. Yes, that’s nine years after the initial launch.
Players are hungry for the next serving of Grand Theft Auto, sure. You can’t leave them hanging forever, even if the current title continues to sell well. Whenever Take-Two releases the next flagship title in this dominant franchise, you can bet it will break records and set standards.
OK, so what’s Take-Two doing?
Last February, Take-Two confirmed that its Rockstar Games studio was actively working on the next opus of the Grand Theft Auto series.
“Our goal is always to go beyond what we’ve already delivered,” the development studio said at the time. “We look forward to sharing more when we are ready.”
Taking that next big step is quite a challenge, but the rumor mill is whispering that Take-Two might be up to the task. GTA 5 includes a simplified stock market with approximately 80 tickers spread over two exchanges. Players can invest money in the game and gain or lose their (often badly earned) money over time. This system is tied to real-world dollars, because you can still buy a lot of play money for some cold, hard cash. Hundred thousand dollars of GTA 5 cash costs $3, and an $8 million infusion of play money will set you back $100 in real dollars. The reverse is more difficult. So-called Shark Cards are changing hands in online markets like eBayoften for less than half of official Rockstar prices.
Other game companies have improved on this idea over the years, led by Roblox (NYSE:RBLX) and its reasonably liquid Robux currency. In games like Roblox, it’s possible to earn a living in the real world by creating in-game items and experiences that other players want to buy. The Robux system is the cornerstone of this company’s business plan.
In this context, Take-Two could make a real difference in the real crypto market by integrating blockchain-based features in the next Grand Theft Auto.
How could cryptocurrencies work in Grand Theft Auto?
Crypto could appear in the new GTA game in many different ways. First, Rockstar could rely on actual blockchain ledgers to track in-game data such as items, money, and rewards. Unique characters, vehicles, digital real estate, and weapons can be represented by non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This way, the company would create a very real trading platform for its fictitious assets.
With or without crypto-based game features, the game could reward players for playing the game by sending small amounts of actual cryptocurrency. This idea could be similar to the Brave web browser, which displays additional advertisements on certain pages in exchange for sharing advertising revenue with browser users. For example, I won four Basic Attention Tokens (CRYPTO: BAT) last month for using the Brave browser extensively. It’s worth about a dollar at current exchange rates, but Take-Two could up the game with a richer revenue share stream. Player loyalty is important and valuable, after all.
And of course, Rockstar could ignore real cryptocurrencies altogether and just poke fun at the crypto market instead. Rockstar could even increase its own fortune by signing a sponsorship deal with an entity like Coinbase or Crypto.com. It would be entirely in the spirit of dry humor of the Grand Theft Auto Games. It would be the least beneficial form of cryptocurrency inclusion, but the company would still discuss digital assets in front of a massive user base where many gamers tend to interact with the gaming world on a daily basis. It’s still valuable for the crypto market.
Fingers crossed for a serious cryptocurrency feature or two
The rumor mill did not find consistent evidence of cryptocurrency features in the next Grand Theft Auto, but I’d be shocked if this game hits store shelves without even a nod to the popular cryptocurrency industry. Rockstar and Take-Two could become the standard bearers for a new generation of blockchain games, or they could laugh and giggle about the whole idea. But there will likely be some kind of crypto content, and that’s enough to make a significant difference.
Notice that only game tokens and game ideas to win would make the game a killer app for cryptocurrencies. Otherwise, it will rather be a missed opportunity that will leave the pioneering action in the hands of another innovator. Either way, crypto should get its first real killer app pretty soon.
Crypto may not look cool right now, but the story will likely change again in a year or two. I think it would be a shame if Take-Two Interactive didn’t jump at this opportunity to write a real-world story. Grand Automatic Flight 6 could become the VisiCalc or Netflix of the crypto market for millions.
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Anders Bylund holds positions at Basic Attention Token, Coinbase Global, Inc., and Netflix. The Motley Fool holds positions and recommends Basic Attention Token, Coinbase Global, Inc., Netflix, Roblox Corporation, and Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool recommends eBay and recommends the following options: $115 long calls in January 2023 on Take-Two Interactive and $50 short calls in October 2022 on eBay. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.