Of all the trends across gaming in 2022, crypto is simultaneously the dumbest, most infuriating, and funniest. Publisher after publisher has asked, “Wouldn’t you like to make money playing our game?” only to be told, “No, we want to have fun.” Still, everyone from Ubisoft to Square Enix is shooting their shot on NFTs and other blockchain-based affronts to decency. That’s led to rampant speculation about who will fall into the crypto trap next. One rumor making the rounds recently says Rockstar Games may introduce cryptocurrency into its biggest franchise. Here’s why that’s not likely to happen (or at least a very bad idea).
Rumors have been swirling that the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6 will involve cryptocurrency in some way. The most common claim is that completing some missions will grant players cryptocurrency instead of in-game money and allow them to trade that fake money with other real players. That particular idea actually dates back to June 2021, in a tweet from prominent leaker Tom Henderson.
Henderson attributes the leak to an unnamed source, with an unclear connection to Rockstar Games. The dubious claim has circulated for the past year, and recently multiple outlets and leakers on Twitter have picked it up again. This time around, the claims are even sketchier, coming from people without a solid track record of accurate leaks and most not bothering to even allude to having sources. Rockstar Games itself hasn’t made any statements about whether or not GTA 6 will include cryptocurrency. That’s not surprising, given how Rockstar Games keeps an incredibly tight grip on leaks, even compared to the rest of the notoriously secretive game industry.
It also doesn’t necessarily lend credence to the argument on either side. Every publisher that’s announced its plans to shoehorn “pay-to-earn” mechanics into its game has been shouted down by players. When Ubisoft introduced NFTs for Ghost Recon Breakpoint, it was met with resounding disinterest. Within just a few months, the market for its cryptocurrency, Quartz, tanked. Ubisoft has stopped the sale of Breakpoint NFTs but inexplicably still plans to release more for future games.
Other publishers didn’t even persist long enough to actually mint their play money thanks to strong pushback. Undoubtedly the most schadenfreude-inducing instance of that came from Team17, an indie publisher that canceled its crypto integration less than 24 hours after it was announced. In that case, it wasn’t just from player feedback, as developers under Team17’s umbrella like Aggro Crab announced they were considering cutting ties with the publisher over the scheme.
It’s clear that the majority of players simply won’t tolerate cryptocurrency in games, so Rockstar Games is unlikely to tip its hand now even if the rumors are true. Grand Theft Auto players are a notoriously rowdy bunch, regularly threatening and sometimes carrying out boycotts against GTA Online for all manner of slights. Granted, video game “fans” will also throw a fit for games being delayed, not meeting their incredibly specific expectations, or just existing, but the wrath Rockstar Games would likely face for injecting crypto into GTA 6 could be on a whole different level.
What attracts publishers to NFTs and other crypto nonsense is the hope that it will make them more money than we have numbers for. Rockstar, however, kind of already has that. Grand Theft Auto 5 alone has sold more than 165 million copies, and made more than $6 billion, largely through GTA Online microtransactions. As recently as 2020, Rockstar was raking in $2.5 million per day from its online mayhem sandbox. Of course, the concept of “enough money” doesn’t exist to publicly traded companies, but Rockstar (and its parent company Take-Two) may not be willing to risk their cash cow on a gamble that to date has only been disastrous for those who’ve tried it.
There’s plenty of reason to doubt that Rockstar would risk its gigantic pile of money for a chance at a slightly more gigantic pile of money, but that doesn’t mean crypto won’t appear in GTA 6 at all. The entire point of Grand Theft Auto (at least since GTA 3) is to satirize American culture and all its ridiculous, transparent excess. It’s hard to think of a recent trend that combines tech bro bluster, destructive individualism, and get-rich-quick grindset into as mockable a package as the cryptocurrency craze.
So yes, you’ll probably see crypto in GTA 6, and like all crypto schemes, those who buy into it will be the butt of the joke. The difference between this and something like Quartz is that this time, players will be the ones laughing.