Among the flurry surrounding the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 releases, there was one surprising fact: Grand Theft Auto V by Rockstar Games will be re-released on the next-generation console. This makes it the only game that has been released on three different console generations. It first came out in 2013.
GTAV is by all accounts the most profitable media product ever. It has sold over 135m copies and earned well more than $6bn. This is nearly twice the profit of 2019’s Avengers Endgame. It is interesting that this game continues to be bought by people. In gaming years, 2013 is almost the Cretaceous period. Why is GTA so popular?
This multifaceted answer reveals a lot about the shifting tectonic plates in the gaming industry over the past decade. GTAV is a great single-player experience. You play as three colourful criminals who are involved in a series daring heists. Rockstar’s trademark tone is witty satire. This edition targets social media, reality TV, and wellness culture with numerous pop culture references. For example, if a player goes to Raton Canyon at 7pm they will see two women driving off a cliff, in a convertible, in a nod towards Thelma & Louise. This is just one of many hidden features that reward dedicated explorers in the virtual state San Andreas. It’s a clever pastiche of California, and an environment with unparalleled character and detail.
“GTA V” is in San Andreas virtual state
The real reason this game has been so popular is its multiplayer component, GTA Online. Although it was a failure at first, Rockstar has made the online version a polished product. In fact, GTA saw a record number of players in 2020 . Regular updates to Los Santos provide players with new missions, vehicles, as well as the opportunity to operate nightclubs that allow them to launder their illicit gains. This year, the introduction of fluorescent alien bodysuits led to an all out war where players created armies of purple and green extraterrestrials to hunt each other around the city. Rockstar provided the tools to allow players to create their own virtual culture.
The most innovative updates encouraged players to create communities, biker gangs, and hire one another in complicated mob hierarchies. GTA gradually evolved from an absurdist simulation of crime to a virtual world where people could just hang out with their friends and drive cars that they couldn’t afford in real life. The popularity of Twitch and YouTube grew simultaneously, and players began to upload videos of themselves to large audiences. Twitch has seen 11m hours GTA IV in the past week.
One community is known for its elaborate stunts, and spends hours practicing driving down ramps or jumping through the pylons at the top of Mount Chiliad. Another group thrives in role-play servers. Here, available for free for players that are given everyday jobs and can play their characters, such as postal workers or ambulance drivers. Some people work eight hour shifts in real time as virtual cops. They arrest drug dealers and impose traffic fines. Role players create their own theatre, creating soap opera storylines that viewers love in their thousands.
Rockstar was able to let players play with the game’s software early on. The editor mode allows players to control the weather, time and other data to make films using video game casts. These movies can range from nature documentaries to Bond-style rip-offs that last three hours. If you want to dig deeper, there is a community of modders who can edit the software to add graphics or features like a parade or LGBT pride parade. Mods that are most unusual are the best: Hack the game to make it run around as a deer or use the incredible power of guns that shoot cars and sharks.
The continuing success of GTA IV is a sign that game development continues to evolve. The goal of a title is no longer to be a complete experience. Developers continue to make a profit through microtransactions from games built on platforms that evolve over time. Although this business model is controversial among gamers, it allows one game to remain relevant across generations of consoles. There’s always something to do. Gaming has made San Andreas, a fictional state, a home and playground unlike any other. They are still waiting for GTAVI news. It is much easier to go back to their old haunts than to try something new. This game has been a part of their lives since childhood.