The highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto (GTA) VI is coming – but will it come with an in-game cryptocurrency? A lawyer has suggested that perhaps not. Yet.
The fifth installment of GTA was launched in September 2013. Rockstar Games, GTA’s developer, said just days ago that it will finally release the reveal trailer for the next installment this December.
We are very excited to let you know that in early December, we will release the first trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto. We look forward to many more years of sharing these experiences with all of you.
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) November 8, 2023
Florida-based digital assets attorney John Montague suggested that regulatory uncertainty in the US will likely prevent any company from utilizing crypto.
Montague told CoinDesk that there is still a lot of “regulatory ambiguity that is preventing game developers from entering into the space, which I think is a very sensible approach until regulatory clarity is achieved.”
He further argued that Rockstar Games will think carefully before bringing in any crypto within its ecosystem.
Montague said that,
“My preliminary view aligns with the notion that there’s a legal grey area, substantial enough for a powerhouse like Rockstar Games to hesitate before integrating any sort of virtual currency within their games or issuing one of their own.”
This is especially relevant as the game developer is doing a substantial amount of business in the US. That country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is notoriously anti-crypto at this point. It has come after a number of major companies for offering crypto services, claiming violations of securities laws.
Montague said that Rockstar Games’ “hesitation, I believe, likely stems from a fear of possible issuer liability, especially given the aggressive stance the SEC has taken in recent times—underscored by the ongoing situation with Coinbase.”
He added that he understands “their desire to be conservative, and the risk/reward for their shareholders may just not be there.”
There may be a way in, Montague suggested.
In July 2019, the SEC issued a letter to the crypto gaming project Pocket Full of Quarters. The Division of Corporation Finance said then – and only then – that it would not recommend enforcement action to the Commission.
This is a no-action letter, Montague said, and may be relevant in Rockstar Games’ case. The SEC suggested that fixed-priced in-game tokens are not securities because they are not used for investment but for game utility.
Therefore, said the lawyer, this might very well be a factor in regulatory considerations.
Yet, here comes the second ‘but’: price fixing is not exactly a staple tool in crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi).
Montague added that,
“Given the evolution of DeFi and the free-floating nature of cryptocurrency, I do not think the price fixing is a particularly relevant factor and really just results in additional development costs, API, and oracle costs for game developers integrating tokeneconomic structures.”
For now, given the regulatory uncertainty around in-game items in the major markets – including the USA, Japan, China, and South Korea – it seems unlikely that GTA VI will include in-game crypto.
But the multibillion-dollar gaming giant may surprise us yet.