Grand Theft Auto V: A Portrait of a Technical and Commercial Success

After the release of Grand Theft Auto IV in April of 2008, Rockstar began working on the preliminary stages of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V). The team consisted of over 1,000 people, with the core developers at Rockstar North totaling roughly 360 people.


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One of the most important factors to their developmental success was how efficiently the core team collaborated with the other teams brought onto the project. These units were spread across separate countries and continents, making the process of communication essential for the game’s overall success.

By becoming more familiar with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware over time, Rockstar was able to incorporate a greater amount of detail into GTA V than in previous versions of the game. Hence, Grand Theft Auto IV was a way for developers to become more acquainted with the capabilities of these systems before releasing GTA V.

In 2013, the development of GTA V finally concluded when the final copy of the game was submitted for large-scale manufacturing. Arvind Bhatia, a well-known media analyst, estimated that the cost of development of the game exceeded $137 million. If you factor in the marketing budget, estimates peg overall development at more than $265 million. Factoring in everything, GTA V is the most expensive video game ever developed.

Gameplay Innovations

Another reason that GTA V earned so much critical acclaim and commercial success was its use of three main characters. This allows players more gameplay freedom, as they are able to employ separate strategies for each character. Having three main characters also eliminates the hassle of needing to drive across an extensive map to start a mission. At any point, the gamer is able to switch characters and thus begin whatever mission they were previously working on with that character. It also prevents the game from quickly becoming stale, as there are always a variety of missions for a player to attempt.

Another new addition to the Grand Theft Auto franchise is a feature called dynamic missions. These are missions that randomly present themselves to gamers while they freely roam the virtual landscape. Gamers can either choose to engage in the dynamic mission or ignore it and continue what they were doing. For example, there is dynamic mission where an armored van pulls up within the gamer’s scope. The gamer can then choose to rob the van or leave it alone. If they do choose to rob the van, gamers must then evade the police and hide the loot successfully before they can return to the main mission.

Commercial Success

Within a day of GTA V’s release, the game had sold roughly 11.21 million copies, generating $800 million in sales. This beat the first-day sales record that Call of Duty: Black Ops II set last year by over $300 million. After three days, the game had generated over $1 billion, the fastest a video game had ever accrued $1 billion in sales (besting Call of Duty: Black Ops II‘ for the record again). By combining expert development, excellent marketing, and ingenious gameplay innovations, GTA V has already gone down in history as the most commercially successful game ever made.

Kevin Trombold is a freelance writer who focuses on video games, gadgets, gizmos, cell phones, accessories such as the kensington ipad covers, the tech industry, computer software and other related areas.

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