Console blockbuster Grand Theft Auto shifts into high gear
Game has long been a source of controversy for its dark undertones and violent, criminal protagonists
A scene from GTA
There are few who could argue that the games industry is anything less than a major business. Grand Theft Auto V is evidence of that.
One of the most expensive games ever made, it cost a reported £170 million, a budget that rivals Hollywood blockbusters such as Avatar.
However, along with the expensive price tag comes a loyal following, and GTA V is expected to take in about £1 billion in its first year, selling up to 25 million copies in that time.
It has been five years since gamers had a new GTA game – GTA IV was released in 2008 – so by the time the game officially went on sale at just past midnight yesterday, anticipation was at a high.
A few lucky gamers got their hands on it early, after Amazon allegedly broke the sales embargo by shipping some copies early in the week.
Fans queued at stores from Monday to get their hands on the latest instalment of the controversial franchise, with many Gamestop outlets around Ireland opening their doors at midnight to meet demand, and even the recently reopened HMV store on Dublin’s Henry Street persuaded to open early at 8am.
What exactly makes the GTA series so compelling is a combination of its open world gameplay and the dark undertones of the game. The game’s “heroes” are criminals, underworld figures determined to rise up the ranks however possible.
The game has also attracted a lot of controversy in the past, due to its adult-themed content. It’s the game’s mature content that has led to GTA games being slapped with an 18 rating in Ireland and Britain, and a Mature rating under the industry’s PEGI rating system.
But the restricted audience hasn’t made the game any less popular: GTA V has a lot to live up to.
More than 135 million copies of Grand Theft Auto games have been sold since the series made its debut in 1997. But it was the launch of Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, the first 3D title in the series, that is widely credited with cementing the franchise’s place among the top games in the world.
It’s not just retailers who were betting that the game would be a major success; bookmakers Paddy Power was also getting in on the act.
On Monday, the firm was taking bets that the game would beat its predecessor in terms of sales in its first 24 hours, ousting GTA IV as the highest grossing game. It was only offering odds of 2/5, however, with odds of 7/4 that it would sell between four and four and a half million copies.