Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest video game franchises ever. But the unsurprising revelation that GTA V sold over US$1 billion in product in the space of 3 days explodes some of the rubbish written about lack of innovation in entertainment.
There is some evidence that men simply spend less money on entertainment. But what the video game industry has shown is that by focusing on a market with a high willingness to pay for a specific type of product, and ignoring the “mass market” approach of Hollywood, significant profits can be made.
As a technological achievement, GTA V is extremely impressive. In the last decade, the innovation in the video game industry has been a whole order of magnitude higher than in Hollywood. This is only possible because of the high profits earned from blockbuster franchises like GTA and Halo.
Similarly, in television we find most of the great content. HBO, FX, AMC – independent cable channels that can make a fortune from experimenting with new shows. The “big three” ABC,CBS and NBC, have been far less successful with their “appeal to everyone” approach.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that from profits, comes innovation. There is a trope that big profits end up in the pockets of shareholders and consumers never benefit. But at this point, there is far more high quality choice in entertainment available to almost every segment of the market.
GTA V is just another tick in the box of relentless focus on innovation and ignoring the critics. Hollywood can’t even make money from foreign distribution rights now because most potential customers Torrent if it’s released late. Sucks to have a failing business model. Sucks to have not kept focusing on innovative ideas.
There is some evidence from the video game market and its continual production of blockbusters using retained earnings that some tropes about big firms being bad for innovation simply aren’t true.