Tomorrow marks 5 years since Grand Theft Auto V released worldwide on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game was a large-scale commercial success for its developer and publisher, Rockstar Games, selling almost 100 million copies worldwide. To mark this event, let’s take a look back at the last 5 years, from its midnight launch in 2013, the records the game broke, to the updates we’ve received.
1. Midnight Launch
Grand Theft Auto V‘s midnight launch was a commercial success, selling over 11 million copies in its first day, making $800 million on its first day alone, and grossing $1 billion within 3 days. This was amazing. Nothing ever has done sales like that. Within 24 hours, the game had smashed 7 world records: best-selling action-adventure video game in 24 hours, best-selling video game in 24 hours, fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion, fastest video game to gross $1 billion, highest grossing video game in 24 hours, highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours, and most viewed trailer for an action-adventure video game.
Before its September 17th worldwide launch, Amazon UK accidentally sent the game to people who had pre-ordered it around a week early. This resulted in the game’s storyline being leaked and streamed on Twitch TV prior to its official launch. On launch day in the UK, demand for the game was so high that people who had queued for the game were stabbed and mugged by others wishing to skip the line through less than legitimate means.
2. Pre Launch Advertising
When it came to the pre-launch advertising for Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games went all out. I personally remember you couldn’t drive for more than 5 minutes without seeing an ad for Grand Theft Auto V. Billboards, telephone boxes, buses. The ads were everywhere. Check out some cool ads they did below.
3. Grand Theft Auto Online release
October 1st 2013 was the day that Grand Theft Auto V‘s online component, Grand Theft Auto: Online launched, and (initially) flopped. Hard. Its launch was delayed by Rockstar Games for 2 weeks so that they could have more time to complete it and so that players had time to experience the game’s expansive Story Mode uninterrupted.
One thing that Rockstar Games had not fully anticipated was the sheer fanfare that would surround the game, anticipating the launch of online. The servers were unable to handle the load at its launch, which saw over 15 million concurrent users – an unprecedented number – attempting to get into GTA Online. Those who did manage to connect reported that they were plagued by numerous game bugs, such as not being able to get past the introduction screen or the cloud servers not saving their progress. It took several weeks for these issues to be fully remedied, but as the concurrent load subsided, an increasing number of players were able to connect and have their progress (mostly) saved. There was even a time when an abrupt end of the session, such as quitting the game without returning to Story Mode (which forced the servers to attempt to save progress), was risky and often resulted in that session’s progress not being saved to the cloud servers.
As an apology for the problematic launch of GTA Online, Rockstar Games gave every player a $500,000 stimulus pack, which, 5 years ago, was worth a lot in the in-game economy.
4. Lawsuits and Controversy
When Rockstar Games release new titles, they tend to be met with a myriad of complaints and negative press coverage. Grand Theft Auto V was no different, receiving its share of court challenges and lawsuits. One of the more prominent cases was that of the Lindsay Lohan suit. She filed a lawsuit accusing Rockstar Games of using her likeness without compensation for the in-game celebrity Lacy Jones and the cover of the Grand Theft Auto V disc. In March of 2018, the New York state’s Court of Appeals unanimously rejected her case, stating that the in-game character simply resembled a “generic. . . twenty something woman without any particular identifying physical characteristics.”
In October 2013, another lawsuit was filed, this time by Daz Dillington, an American rapper, claiming that they used two of his songs in the game without permission. This case was later dropped and the songs are still in the game 5 years later.
In 2015, Rockstar Games filed a lawsuit against the BBC after it decided to go ahead with the production and broadcast of a 90 Minute drama called ‘Game Changers,’ which covered the controversy and creation of the Grand Theft Auto Series. Rockstar Games wanted to make sure that its trademarks were not misused.
A lot of criticism surrounding a mission which required you to torture a government target started to come out, with the user having to pull the target’s teeth out, subject them to waterboarding, electrocute the target, and even smacking the targets kneecaps with a wrench. This went unanswered by Rockstar Games.
In March 2014, Target Australia and Kmart Australia stopped selling Grand Theft Auto V, following an online petition that was signed by 40,000 people who said the video game encourages players to murder women for entertainment and asked the retailers to stop selling it.
Grand Theft Auto V was nominated for over 100 accolades, winning a large number of them. The game was also nominated for multiple ‘Game Of The Year’ awards, winning most. It was rated 10/10 by IGN, received a score of 96% on Metacritic, and 4/5 by Common sense media. You can see the list of Accolades here.