Grand Theft Auto V is ten years old today. Well, its single-player campaign is, anyway — it launched on September 17, 2013 in the US, which is the 18th here in Oz. Grand Theft Auto Online obviously began life a little later, arriving several weeks after the campaign to give players time to complete it. But what a decade it’s been for the third most successful video game of all time. Let’s take a minute to talk about that.
This won’t be a terribly newsy piece, or anything. I just felt like reminiscing for a moment. Hopefully you feel like joining me in that.
And yes, third most successful game of all time. In terms of raw copies sold, GTA V has, to date, sold 185 million copies across three separate console hardware generations and PC. The only games in the history of the medium to sell more copies than GTA V are Minecraft, weighing in at a whopping 238 million copies, and Tetris, which has sold a seemingly unbeatable 520 million copies over the course of its life.
In terms of money made, however, GTA V and GTA Online have made Rockstar and its parent company, Take Two Interactive, somewhere in the region of $US7.7 billion. A number this high unequivocally makes it one of the most financially successful games ever. It has had the kind of economic tail the rest of the AAA games industry dreams of — a game that can reliably bring in a billion per year, even a decade after launch. Remarkable.
Like most folks my age, I first played GTA V on my then-very old Xbox 360 in 2013. It launched only months before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 arrived to supersede it, a swansong for a pair of well-loved machines. Looking back on it, the game barely ran on the 360. Rockstar had crafted a game that took every last ounce of power the hardware had to give. It made that poor little box beg for mercy in much the same way The Last of Us Part II would make my PS4 Pro scream in pain years later.
It would move to PC a year later, and to PS4 and Xbox One shortly after. It would then leap to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S early in those console’s lives, generating a collective groan from long-time players who felt like they were ready for something new.
It would influence open-world design for years to come. It would create an online model that every publisher and their dog would love to emulate but know they simply can’t. It would rarely leave the IGEA’s weekly top 10 ANZ sales list at any time in its life to date (and is, in fact, still there today). It would be hacked, bugged, exploited. It would crash online stores when given away for free. It would spawn mysteries, like the legend of Bigfoot. It would be drawn into controversy as it aged. It would become a kind of time capsule, depicting a parodic version of America as it emerged from the Global Financial Crisis, but before Trump rode down his stupid gold escalator and shit got really crazy. A razor-sharp parody of the era, it seems almost quaint by today’s real-world standard, leading more than a few observers to wonder how Rockstar planned to parody a post-Trump version of America, a reality every bit as unhinged as GTA itself.
It seems like they figured it out. As we now know, following a gigantic leak last year, GTA VI is well on the way.
Between the US site and Kotaku Australia, we have written literally thousands of yarns about this game between us. Our many GTA V tag pages are littered with stories from the game’s launch, all the way up to as recently as a few months ago. I would love nothing more for this to be a discussion piece on GTA 5 and GTA Online. By all means, hop in the comments and chat about it. What do you remember about it? What do you love about it? What do you hate about it still, all these years later?
Happy ten years, GTA V. One of the greats, without a doubt.
Image: Rockstar Games