The company was formed in 1998 by Sam and Dan Houser, and others. According to Venture Beat, the company has generated over $500 Million in 2016. The company does not usually disclose its information and is not required to do so as it is a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive. Venture Beat stated that due to lawsuits, the company has had to disclose at least some of its revenue numbers.
They are well known for the Grand Theft Auto series of games which continues to be a hot seller for the company. The company has received both notoriety and complaints due to the nature of this game (as well as others).
The company has always been a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive which has been and continues to be, the primary source of funding.
How the Company Started
The company is a subsidiary of game publisher Take-Two Interactive, Inc. They started by acquiring a British gaming publisher and moved the operation to New York City and set it up under the name Rockstar Games.
There are several subsidiaries worldwide that carry the Rockstar label. They all have separate functions in the production of their games.
Grand Theft Auto is believed to be the motivation of a teenager to have killed three police officers in 2003. He stole one of the police cars and was later apprehended. He was sentenced to death in 2005.
When apprehended, he told police, “Life is a video game. You’ve got to die sometime.” People become so enamored with these types of realistic games that they lose touch with reality.
The victims’ families sued Take-Two Interactive, as well as Sony, WalMart, and Gamestop, stating the game had a role in the teen’s actions.
A student showed an interviewer from 60-Minutes, how players could carry out the exact scenario in the game as the teen acted out.
There have been other instances of teen-related, and serious crimes (homicide, aggregated assault, etc.) perpetrated due to playing the game.
The game also contains a racial hatred theme as part of the ongoing controversy surrounding it.
The company defends the game stating that people had no problems with the popular HBO series The Sopranos.
Why it Works
Imagine being able to rob a bank. Or, taking a bat and smashing in the window of a fancy car and hotwiring it for a joy ride. And, you can do it all from the comfort of home, without one iota of worry about getting in trouble with the law (at least not the real-world law).
This is exactly what people do when they play the game Grand Theft Auto. It gives gamers the ability to get lost in a world they wouldn’t normally be a part of.
Part of the reason it works is the controversial nature of the games. Grand Theft Auto takes on the persona of a thief who works for the mob, although he goes rogue. He gets himself in all kinds of situations that put him at odds with law enforcement. Depending on how the game is played, the protagonist may go up against the mob as well.
There is no doubt that controversy sells and this company is no stranger to it. The theme of their games usually is what many would find unsavory. Violence and weapons are a central focus which causes distress for parents and advocacy groups. The nature of the games is a big reason for their wide appeal.
The company seems to have learned the right mix of developing their own titles as well as publish the titles of other game makers. Their flagship Grand Theft Auto brings in a consistent income. The initial game was released in 1997 and subsequent iterations of the game sell quite well. It’s rare to have a title that can continue indefinitely for almost 20 years.
Grand Theft Auto has its own virtual currency which can help in the gameplay. This virtual currency can be purchased using real cash.
The company holds several contests in which visitors can win copies of their various games. These contests are announced and held on their website.
One of the biggest draws of this company is that it caters to “the cool kids”. People who buy their products will be considered cool and capable of maintaining their street cred, so to speak.
They support multiple platforms and PC owners can purchase and download via Steam. Its software can also be purchased through major channels such as Amazon, Walmart, etc.
The company relies heavily on press releases to create buzz about new releases. Especially for the Grand Theft Auto line, any new releases will generate both positive and negative press, due to the nature of the game. In this instance, there is no such thing as bad press. In fact, it’s what drives the growth of Grand Theft Auto.
In the video gaming industry, fan sites are a big draw. Grand Theft Auto seems to attract a larger following than most fan sites. This helps the company with releases of software. They will use the early release to allow reviewers to give their insight into new releases. This can often grow the buzz virally.
Head on over to Amazon.com to see just how popular the company’s software titles are. Most are rated high with 5-star ratings being the majority. Complaints on Amazon usually stem from the seller who they bought from.
In case you are not aware, Amazon allows anybody to sell products. If a seller sells a defective copy, reviewers will give that seller a bad review. When this happens this doesn’t have anything to do with Rockstar Games.
Obviously, some games will be more popular than others. The biggest complaint with L.A. Noire is that it is boring. It is still rated quite highly, however.
Lessons Learned By The Business
- The company believes in creating games the employees would love to play, rather than trying to force a concept that is foreign to the developers or customers. Employees will be immersed into the game since they are playing. It keeps them interested which means they will have great suggestions for improvements.
- Rockstar Games feels it has removed itself from the First-Person Genre games. Although their games are considered First-Person, they incorporate elements into the game that separates them from others in this category.
- The company created an engine that it uses as the basis for many of its games. While this concept is not new, the engine they use has a separate division, dedicated to its development and maintenance. The group that is responsible for this engine is the RAGE Technology Group, located in San Diego. The group picks highly talented developers and test players to keep the game engine strong.
How Other Businesses Can Learn From This
In the video gaming industry, it’s important to focus on realistic gameplay. As technologies improve and become more cost-effective for both users and developers, not concentrating on this will leave your company in the dust.
Players are becoming more demanding with proof in the amount spent on gaming devices. Hardcore gamers will think nothing of spending on the next generation hardware gaming device. Think about how disappointed they would be if the software games did not keep up.