Grand Theft Auto V

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Grand Theft Auto V
The game's cover art. The text "gRand theFt auto V" is in the centre, with the text "FIVE" written on a banner wrapped around the Roman numeral "V".
Developer(s) Rockstar North
Publisher(s) Rockstar Games
Distributor(s) Take-Two Interactive
Producer(s) Leslie Benzies[1]
Imran Sarwar[2]
Designer(s) Leslie Benzies
Imran Sarwar
Programmer(s) Adam Fowler[3]
Artist(s) Aaron Garbut[4]
Writer(s) Dan Houser
Rupert Humphries[5]
Series Grand Theft Auto
Engine RAGE, with Euphoria and Bullet Physics
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Release date(s) PS3, X360
17 September 2013
PC, PS4, XOne
Q3/Q4 2014
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, online multiplayer

Grand Theft Auto V is an open world, action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 17 September 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and is scheduled to be released in Q3/Q4 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is the first main entry in the Grand Theft Auto series since 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV. Set within the fictional state of San Andreas (based on Southern California), the single-player story follows three criminals and their efforts to commit heists while under pressure from a government agency. The open world design lets players freely roam San Andreas, which includes open countryside and the fictional city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles).

The game is played from a third-person perspective and its world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Players control the three lead protagonists throughout the single-player mode, switching between them both during and outside of missions. The story is framed by the heist sequences, and many of the missions have shooting and driving gameplay. The player character's criminal activities may incite a response from law enforcement agencies, measured by a "wanted" system that governs the aggression of their response. Grand Theft Auto Online, the online multiplayer mode, lets up to 16 players explore the open world and engage in cooperative or competitive game matches.

Development began in 2009, soon after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. The development team envisioned Grand Theft Auto V as a spiritual successor to many of their previous projects, such as Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. The game's use of three lead protagonists is a break from series tradition—a design choice from the developers to innovate on the core structure of its predecessors. As part of their research for the open world, the developers conducted field research around California throughout development and captured footage for the design team. Development duties were shared between many of Rockstar's studios worldwide.

Following its announcement in October 2011, Grand Theft Auto V was widely anticipated. At release, it was acclaimed by many reviewers, with praise particularly directed at the multiple protagonist design and open-ended gameplay. Critics were polarised by a scene depicting torture and the game's treatment of women. Some labelled the game inherently violent and misogynistic. Grand Theft Auto V broke industry sales records and became the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, earning US$800 million in its first day and US$1 billion in its first three days. It won year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications.


Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story.[7] Outside of missions, players can freely roam the open world. Composed of the San Andreas open countryside area and the fictional city of Los Santos, the world of Grand Theft Auto V is larger in area than earlier entries in the series.[8] The world may be fully explored from the beginning of the game without restrictions, although story progress unlocks more gameplay content.[1]

Players use melee attacks, firearms and explosives to fight enemies, and may run, jump, swim or use vehicles to navigate the world. There is a first-person perspective option when using vehicles. To accommodate the map's size, the game introduces vehicle types absent in its predecessor Grand Theft Auto IV, such as fixed-wing aircraft.[9] In combat, auto-aim and a cover system can be used as assistance against enemies.[10] Should players take damage, their health meter will gradually regenerate to its halfway point. If players commit crimes while playing, law enforcement agencies may respond as indicated by a "wanted" meter in the head-up display (HUD).[11] On the meter, the displayed stars indicate the current wanted level (for example, at the maximum five-star level, efforts by law enforcement to incapacitate players become very aggressive). Law enforcement officers will search for players who leave the wanted vicinity. The wanted meter enters a cooldown mode and eventually recedes when players are hidden from the officers' line of sight (as displayed on the mini-map).[12]

The single-player mode lets players control three characters: Michael De Santa, Trevor Philips and Franklin Clinton—criminals whose stories interconnect as they complete missions. Some missions are completed with only one character and others feature two or three. Throughout single-player, players may switch between the protagonists at will by means of a directional compass on the HUD. The game may switch between characters automatically in single-player missions to complete certain objectives. A character's compass avatar will flash red if he is in danger and needs help, and flash white if he has a strategic advantage.[13] Though players complete missions as any of the three protagonists, the more difficult heist missions require aid from AI-controlled accomplices with unique skill sets, such as computer hacking or driving. If an accomplice survives a successful heist, they take a cut from the cash reward[14] and may be available for later missions with improvements to their unique skills.[15] The game encourages differentiation in heist mission strategies—for example, in a holdup mission, players may either stealthily subdue civilians with an agent or conspicuously storm the venue with guns drawn.[16]

The player character crouched behind a vehicle while in combat. The head-up display elements are visible on-screen.
Players may take cover behind objects during firefights to avoid taking damage from enemies

Each character has a set of eight skills that represent their ability in certain areas such as shooting and driving. Though players improve characters' skills as they play, each character has a skill with expertise by default (e.g. Trevor's flying skill).[17] The eighth "special" skill determines the effectiveness in performing an ability that is unique to each respective character. Michael enters bullet time in combat, Franklin slows down time while driving, and Trevor deals twice as much damage to enemies while taking half as much in combat.[18] A meter on each character's HUD depletes when an ability is being used and gradually regenerates over time.[19]

While free roaming the game world, players may engage in context-specific activities such as scuba diving underwater or BASE jumping via parachute. Each character has a smartphone for contacting friends, starting activities and accessing an in-game Internet.[19] The Internet lets players trade in stocks via a stock market.[20] Players may purchase properties such as homes and businesses, upgrade the weapons and vehicles in each character's arsenal, and customise their appearance by purchasing outfits, haircuts, tattoos and jewellery.[21]

Developed in tandem with the single-player mode, the online multiplayer mode Grand Theft Auto Online was conceived as a separate experience to be played in a continually evolving world.[22] Up to 16 players freely roam across a re-creation of the single-player world and enter lobbies to complete jobs (story-driven competitive and cooperative modes).[23] The Content Creator toolset lets players create their own parameters for custom jobs, like racetracks and deathmatch weapon spawn points.[24] Players may band together in organised player teams called crews to complete jobs together. Rockstar Games Social Club extends crews formed in Max Payne 3's multiplayer mode to that of Grand Theft Auto Online. Players can create their own crews and join up to five total. Crews win multiplayer matches to earn experience points and climb online leaderboards.[25]


Nine years after a botched robbery in Ludendorff, North Yankton, that left two of his accomplices dead and forced a third into hiding, former bank robber Michael Townley is living under witness protection with his family in Los Santos, San Andreas, under the alias Michael De Santa. Franklin Clinton, who works as a repo man for a car dealership alongside his best friend Lamar Davis, is asked to reclaim a car from Michael's twenty-year-old son Jimmy, who is overdue on his loan payment. Correctly deducing that his son is about to become a victim of credit fraud, Michael confronts Franklin and orders him to crash the car through the dealership. Franklin is fired, but he and Michael become friends. When Michael discovers his wife Amanda in bed with her tennis coach, he and Franklin chase the man to a mansion, which Michael destroys out of anger. The mansion's owner, the Mexican drug lord Martin Madrazo, demands compensation, so Michael and Franklin perform a jewellery shop heist to pay their debt. Michael's sole surviving partner in the Ludendorff robbery, Trevor Philips, hears of the jewellery heist and realises that Michael's death was faked and that the heist was his handiwork. The two reunite after Trevor tracks Michael down in Los Santos.

The personal lives of the protagonists begin to spiral out of control. Trevor's unexpected reappearance triggers reckless and erratic behaviour in Michael, which prompts his family to leave. Michael's attempts to make something of himself bring him into conflict with Devin Weston, a self-made billionaire venture capitalist and corporate raider who develops a grudge against him and vows revenge. Franklin becomes disturbed by the way Lamar falls under the influence of gangster Harold "Stretch" Joseph, who defected to a rival gang in prison and repeatedly attempts to kill Lamar to prove himself to his new brethren. Trevor's reckless efforts to consolidate his control over various black markets in Blaine County see him waging war against the San Andreas chapter of The Lost outlaw motorcycle club, a number of Latin American street gangs, rival meth dealers, government-sponsored mercenaries and Triad kingpin Wei Cheng.

FIB government agents Dave Norton and Steve Haines contact Michael and demand that he perform a series of operations with Franklin and Trevor to undermine a rival agency, the IAA.[a] Under Haines's direction, they attack an armoured convoy carrying funds intended for the IAA and raid a bank containing the payroll for all of the corrupt police and public officials in Los Santos. Michael and Trevor perform a job for the drug lord Madrazo, and Trevor demands compensation for their efforts. He kidnaps Madrazo's wife instead, temporarily forcing himself and Michael into hiding. As Haines comes under increasing scrutiny for his methods, he forces them to infiltrate the FIB headquarters and erase any evidence being used against him from their servers. Michael takes the opportunity to wipe any data on his own activities in the process, destroying Haines's leverage over him. After Trevor returns Madrazo's wife, the trio start making plans for their most daring feat ever: raiding the Union Depository's gold bullion reserve.

After returning to Los Santos, Michael makes amends with his family and they start living together again. Trevor, however, discovers that a former Ludendorff heist accomplice was not in prison as he was led to believe, but killed during the heist and buried in the grave marked for Michael. Trevor's feelings of betrayal cause friction within the group and threaten to undermine their Union Depository plans. When Michael and Norton are caught in a Mexican stand-off between the FIB, IAA and private security firm Merryweather, Trevor aids in their escape, holding that only he has the right to kill Michael. Despite not forgiving Michael, Trevor still wants to perform the Union Depository heist; the duo agree to part ways afterwards.

The Union Depository heist is completed successfully, but Franklin is approached by two parties separately who demand that he kill Trevor or Michael. Haines and Norton contend that Trevor is a liability, and Weston wants retribution for Michael's betrayal. Franklin has three choices: kill Michael, kill Trevor or kill neither and face their enemies together. Should Franklin kill either Michael or Trevor, he ceases contact with the survivor and returns to his old life.[27][28] Should he kill neither, the trio join forces to withstand an onslaught from the FIB and Merryweather before going on to kill Weston, Stretch, Cheng and Haines. With all their enemies disposed, the three cease working together, but remain friends.[29]



Rockstar North began to develop Grand Theft Auto V in 2009, following the release of Grand Theft Auto IV.[5] Development was conducted by a team of more than 1,000 people, including Rockstar North's core team and staff from parent company Rockstar Games's studios around the world.[30] The game runs on the proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), which was overhauled for the game to improve its draw distance rendering capabilities.[31] The Euphoria and Bullet software handle additional animation and rendering tasks.[32] Having become familiar with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware over time, Rockstar found they were able to push the graphical capabilities of the consoles further than in previous games.[4] Analyst estimations place the game's combined development and marketing budget at more than £170 million (US $265 million), which would make it the most expensive game ever made at that time.[33][b]

The open world's design and in-game render constituted much of the game's early work.[35] The open world was modelled on Southern California and Los Angeles.[36] Key members of the game world production team took field research trips throughout the region and documented their research with photo and video footage.[4] Google Maps projections of Los Angeles were used by the team to help design the road networks of Los Santos.[31][37] To reflect and reproduce the demographic spread of Los Angeles, the developers also studied census data and watched documentaries about the city.[31] The team considered creating the open world the most technically demanding aspect of the game's production.[5]

A fundamental design goal from the outset was to innovate on the core structure of Grand Theft Auto games by giving players control of three lead protagonists instead of one.[35] The idea was first raised during Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas's development, but contemporaneous hardware restrictions made it infeasible.[38] Having developed two Grand Theft Auto IV episodic expansion packs featuring new protagonists in 2009, the team wanted to base Grand Theft Auto V around three simultaneously controlled protagonists.[9] The team viewed Grand Theft Auto V as a spiritual successor to many of their previous games (such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3), and designed it to improve upon their gameplay mechanics.[13][39] They sought to improve the action gameplay by refining the shooting mechanics and cover system,[40] and reworked the driving mechanics to correct Grand Theft Auto IV's difficult vehicle controls.[31]

After an audition process, Ned Luke, Shawn "Solo" Fonteno and Steven Ogg were selected to portray Michael, Franklin and Trevor, respectively.[41] Their performances were mostly recorded using motion capture technology,[42] but dialogue for scenes with characters seated in vehicles was recorded in studios instead.[43] Grand Theft Auto V is the first entry in the series to feature an original score, which was composed by a team of producers collaborating with each-other over a number of years.[44] Licensed music provided by an in-game radio is also used.[45] The team licensed more than 241 tracks shared between fifteen radio stations, with an additional two stations providing talk radio. Some of the tracks were written specifically for the game, such as rapper and producer Flying Lotus's original work composed for the FlyLo FM radio station he hosts.[6]

Grand Theft Auto V was first announced by Rockstar Games on 25 October 2011.[46] They released its debut trailer one week later,[47] with an official press release acknowledging the game's setting.[48] Journalists noted that the announcement ignited widespread anticipation within the gaming industry, which they owed to the cultural significance of the series.[49][50][51] The game missed its original projected Q2 2013 release date, pushed back to 17 September 2013 to allow for further polishing.[52] To spur pre-order game sales, Rockstar collaborated with several retail outlets to make a special edition with extra in-game features.[53] Rockstar also ran a viral marketing strategy with a website for a fictional religious cult, "The Epsilon Program", that offered users the chance to feature in the game as members of the cult.[54]

Additional content

Post-release content is continually added to Grand Theft Auto Online and the single-player mode of Grand Theft Auto V through free title updates. The Beach Bum Update, released on 19 November 2013, added more beach-themed jobs and customisation content for players.[55] In December, Rockstar announced that they plan to release downloadable content in 2014 that expands the single-player mode and creates new story for the lead characters.[56] The Deathmatch & Race Creators update was released on 11 December 2014 and lets players create their own deathmatches and races.[57] The Capture Update was released on 17 December 2013 and adds a new team-based capture the flag mode called Capture.[58] On 24 December 2013, the Holiday Gifts update added Christmas themed items to the online mode. It also gave players discounts on in-game vehicles, weapons, apartments and other items. The items and discounts were available until 5 January 2014. The update also added snowfall to the game world during Christmas.[59]

Coinciding with the 2014 Valentine's Day, the Valentine's Day Massacre Special update released on February 13, 2014 added Bonnie and Clyde-themed content to the game for a limited time until the end of February 2014.[60][61] The Business Update, released on 4 March 2014, added multiple business-themed items to the game.[62] On 11 April 2014, the Capture Creator Update was released that added the ability for players to create their own Capture jobs using the Content Creator.[63] The High Life Update released on 13 May 2014 added new vehicles, clothes and weapons. It also added new apartments, the ability to purchase two properties at any one time and the Mental State gameplay statistic that monitors player behaviour in-game.[64] The I'm Not a Hipster Update was released on 17 June 2014 and added hipster-themed customisation items, and retro-themed vehicles and weapons.[65][66]

Enhanced re-release

The city of Los Santos being rendered on the PlayStation 4 on the left, and the PlayStation 3 on the right. Improved texture effects, lighting and draw distances are visible on the PS4 version.
A comparison of the PlayStation 4 (left) and PlayStation 3 (right) versions of the game. The enhanced re-release features greater draw distances and higher-resolution textures than the original versions.

At E3 2014, a re-release of the game was announced, scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This enhanced version of the game features an increased draw distance, finer texture details, denser traffic and enhanced resolution, as well as new wildlife, vegetation and upgraded weather effects. Players are able to transfer characters and progression of Grand Theft Auto Online from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 over to the new platforms. Additionally, the Windows version features a replay editor that lets players create video clips of their gameplay.[67]


Critical response

Grand Theft Auto V reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS3) 97%[68]
(X360) 96%[69]
Metacritic 97/100[70][71]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 10/10[72]
Eurogamer 9/10[73]
Game Informer 9.75/10[74]
GameSpot 9/10[75]
IGN 10/10[76]
Joystiq 4.5/5 stars[77]
Play Magazine 97/100[78]
The Escapist 3.5/5 stars[79]

Grand Theft Auto V was released to critical acclaim.[80] Among its strengths, reviewers cited its multiple lead character formula, presentation and open world gameplay. According to review aggregator Metacritic, the game received an average review score of 97/100 for both consoles.[70][71] It is the fifth-highest rated game on Metacritic, tied with a number of other games.[c] GameRankings assigned it an average review score of 97% and 96% for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively.[68][69] It is also one of the highest-rated games on GameRankings.[d]

Reviewers praised the character switching mechanic. Jeff Bakalar of c|net felt that the game encouraged players to engage with all three characters.[83] Edge staff found that switching players was helpful for avoiding long travel times to mission start points.[72] Character switching was considered to improve the pace of action sequences as well, and Matt Bertz of Game Informer noted that players are kept "in the thick of the action" during shootouts.[74] Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer wrote that switching added a tactical element to shootouts since characters set up in strategic outposts would result in fewer "shooting gallery" situations than previous installments.[73] Keza MacDonald of IGN similarly felt that the feature gave players more choice in their approach and made missions less predictable.[76]

Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb considered the heist missions a welcome deviation from the typical missions structure of the series.[84] Eurogamer's Bramwell felt that the heists felt like "blockbuster set-pieces",[73] and Carolyn Petit of GameSpot cited the 1995 film Heat as a stylistic influence on their design.[75] Xav de Matos of Joystiq felt creativity and methodical approaches were encouraged.[77] Chris Plante of Polygon likened rapid character switching during heist missions to "film editing, with the player serving as editor, switching rapidly to the most interesting perspective for any moment".[85] Andy Kelly of Computer and Video Games felt that overall mission design was more diverse than and lacked the escort errands of its predecessors.[86]

The player character with their back to the camera, and the sprawl of an urban city centre in front of them.
Los Santos, the city featured in the game's open world. Reviewers praised its design and similarity to Los Angeles. The departure from Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City was well received.

Reviewers lauded the open world design, some further complimenting the game for streamlining the geography of Los Angeles into a well-designed city space.[12][73] Brandon Jones of GameTrailers considered the emulation of Los Angeles authentic, and felt the open world is "full of voice and personality".[87] Edge directed praise at the graphical fidelity and absence of load screens.[72] Luke Albiges of Play further complimented the draw distances as well as the weather and lighting systems.[78] IGN and PlayStation Official Magazine (OPM) made favourable comparisons were made between Los Santos and Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City.[76][88] Mikel Reparez of Official Xbox Magazine felt Los Santos surpassed the "grey and gritty" Liberty City.[89] Many praised the world as a satire of contemporary American culture[12][73][76][77][86]—Joel Gregory of OPM opined that "the scathing social commentary is, of course, present and correct".[88]

Reviewers praised the sound design. Jim Sterling of Destructoid called it "impeccable" and praised the actors' performances, the original soundtrack and the use of licensed music.[12] IGN and Giant Bomb also commended the licensed music selection and felt that the original score enhanced dramatic tension during missions.[76][84] GameSpot's Petit wrote that the score "lends missions more cinematic flavour".[75] Edge said that the licensed music enhanced the city's "already remarkable sense of space" and that the original score improved the atmosphere of the gameplay. They summarised the game as "a compendium of everything Rockstar has learnt about the power of game music in the past decade".[90]

Many reviewers found the land-based vehicles more responsive and easier to control than in previous games.[72][75][78][88][89] "Cars have a proper sense of weight, while retaining the agility necessary for navigating through traffic at high speeds", Bertz of Game Informer explained.[74] In addition to the vehicle handling, most reviewers noted the shooting mechanics were tighter than they had been in previous games,[74][75][76] but Destructoid's Sterling felt that in spite of the improvements, auto-aim was "twitchy and unreliable", and cover mechanics "still come off as dated and unwieldy".[12] Some reviewers felt the game solved a continual problem by adding mid-mission checkpoints.[73][76][91]

The story and characters—particularly Trevor—polarised reviewers. Some felt that the narrative was not as well-written as previous Rockstar games and cited the plot strengths of Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption.[73][74][77][89] Other reviewers felt that having multiple lead protagonists with contrasting personalities gave the narrative tighter pacing.[12][72][76][85] Hollander Cooper of GamesRadar thought that the game negated inconsistencies in the story of previous entries, whose single lead protagonists had muddled morality.[92] GameSpot's Petit considered Trevor in particular a "truly horrible, terrifying, psychotic human being—and a terrific character".[75] Bramwell found Trevor "shallow and unconvincing", and felt that his eccentricities hurt the narrative and overshadowed Michael and Franklin's character development.[73] Joystiq's de Matos faulted the protagonists' lack of likability, and found the ambivalence between Michael and Trevor a tired plot device as their conflict grew into a "seemingly endless cycle".[77] Greg Tito of The Escapist had difficulty connecting with the characters' emotions since they acted out of greed with no sense of morality and thus gave players little reason to support them.[79]

Multiplayer launch

Grand Theft Auto Online reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (X360) 82%[93][e]
Metacritic (PS3) 83/100[95]
(X360) 80/100[96]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 7/10 (8 October 2013)[97]
GameSpot 6/10 (5 May 2014)[98]
7/10 (11 October 2013)[99] 9/10 (25 October 2013)[100]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars (17 October 2013)[101]
GRY-OnLine 7.5/10 (11 October 2013)[102]

Grand Theft Auto Online launched on 1 October 2013, two weeks after the release of Grand Theft Auto V.[103] Many players reported that they had difficulties connecting to the game's servers and the Social Club web service, and others further reported that the game would freeze while loading early missions.[104][105] Rockstar released a technical patch on 5 October in an effort to resolve the issues.[106] The microtransaction system, which allows players to purchase game content using real money, was also suspended as a fail-safe.[107] Problems persisted the second week following launch, and some players reported their player-character progress as having disappeared.[108] Another technical patch was released on 10 October combating the issues, and players experiencing issues were told not to recreate their multiplayer avatars.[109] As recompense for the technical issues, Rockstar offered a stimulus of GTA $500,000 (in-game currency) to the accounts of all players connected to Online since launch.[110] Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar's parent company, stated that by February 2014, 70 percent of players with Internet access had played Grand Theft Auto Online, and that the game's microtransactions system was the largest contributor to the company's digital revenue since the launch of Grand Theft Auto Online.[111]

Because of the widespread technical issues present at launch, many reviewers bemoaned their experience with Grand Theft Auto Online.[99][102] Chris Carter of Destructoid criticised the "messy launch" and felt that Rockstar should have delayed it.[97] IGN's MacDonald considered her initial play sessions in Grand Theft Auto Online "disastrous",[112] and Liam Martin of Digital Spy reported glitches including loss of his character data. While generally praising the scope of the experience, he considered Grand Theft Auto Online underwhelming as beholden to pre-launch anticipation let down by its technical issues.[101] The character creation system was panned by critics, who felt that the system only produced unattractive avatars.[97][101][102][112] MacDonald of IGN noted an "addictive rhythm" to character progression and was enthusiastic about some of the job missions, although most eventually became monotonous.[112] GameSpot's Petit agreed with MacDonald, writing that "early on, your mission options are dominated by bland last team standing deathmatches".[99] However, reviewers generally recognised the open-ended exploration and dynamic content as the strength of Grand Theft Auto Online.[99][101][112] Jon Denton of was particularly enthusiastic, and wrote that the "endlessness" of the gameplay made up for the technical issues.[100]


Within twenty-four hours of its release, Grand Theft Auto V generated more than $800 million in worldwide revenue, equating to approximately 11.21 million copies sold for Take Two.[113][f] The numbers nearly doubled analysts' expectations for the title.[115][116] Three days after release, the game had surpassed one billion dollars in sales, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history.[117][g] Six weeks after its release, Rockstar had shipped nearly 29 million copies of the game to retailers, exceeding the lifetime figures of Grand Theft Auto IV.[119] On 7 October 2013, the game became the best-selling digital release on PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3, breaking the previous record set by The Last of Us, though numerical sales figures were not disclosed.[120][121] It broke seven Guinness World Records on 8 October 2013: best-selling video game in 24 hours, best-selling action-adventure video game in 24 hours, highest grossing video game in 24 hours, fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion, fastest video game to gross $1 billion, highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours, and most viewed trailer for an action-adventure video game.[122] A digital version was released on 18 October 2013 for the Xbox 360,[123] which went on to become the highest grossing day-one and week-one release on Xbox Live.[124]

In the United Kingdom, the game became the fastest-selling game of all time, selling more than 2.25 million copies in five days. This broke the record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops at two million copies over the same period. It also broke the day one record by selling 1.57 million copies and generating £65 million.[125] In two weeks, the game sold more than 2.6 million copies and generated £90 million, which accounted for 52% of games sold September 2013.[126] After three weeks on sale, it beat the lifetime sales of Grand Theft Auto IV in the United Kingdom.[127] In its fourth week, it became the fastest-selling title to break the three million barrier in the UK, thus overtaking lifetime sales of Black Ops II.[128] The game was similarly successful in North America: Grand Theft Auto V was the best selling game in September 2013, representing over 50% of software sales[129] and boosting overall software sales by 52% compared to September 2012.[130]


Grand Theft Auto V received multiple nominations and awards from gaming publications. Prior to its release, it received Most Anticipated Game at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.[49] The game was review aggregators Metacritic and GameRankings' highest rated for the year 2013.[131][132] The game appeared on several year-end lists of the best games of 2013, receiving wins from independent journalist Tom Chick,[133] c| net[134] Edge,[135] the 31st Golden Joystick Awards,[136] the 5th Annual Inside Gaming Awards[137] the Spike VGX 2013 Awards,[138] Slant Magazine[139] and Time.[140] It was also named the Best Xbox Game by,[141] GameSpot,[142] and IGN,[143] and the Best Multiplatform Game by Destructoid.[144] Rockstar Games and Rockstar North won Best Studio and Best Developer from Edge,[145] and the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award at the 10th British Academy Video Games Awards.[146]

Various in-game elements were recognised with awards. Two characters, Trevor Philips and Lamar Davis, received numerous nominations for Best Character, and Lamar won the award from Giant Bomb.[147] The music also received awards from Spike VGX,[138] Hardcore Gamer[148] and The Daily Telegraph.[149] Grand Theft Auto Online won Best Multiplayer from GameTrailers[150] and BAFTA,[146] and Best Xbox 360 Multiplayer from IGN.[151] Online was also nominated for Biggest Disappointment by Game Revolution[152] and Hardcore Gamer.[153] Grand Theft Auto V won Best Technical Achievement in the Telegraph Video Game Awards,[149] and Best Technology at the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards.[154] The graphical and artistic design also received awards from IGN,[155] The Daily Telegraph[149] and BAFTA,[146] and a nomination at the Game Developers Choice Awards.[154]

Grand Theft Auto V also received numerous other awards. It was awarded the title of Most Immersive Game at the Inside Gaming Awards.[137] The general public also voted for the game to receive some accolades, such as the User Choice Award at the PlayStation Awards 2013,[156] and the Community Choice award from Destructoid.[157] Grand Theft Auto V received the Platinum Award at the PlayStation Awards,[156] and was named the Best British Game from BAFTA.[146] At IGN's Best of 2013 Awards, it received multiple wins, including Best Xbox 360 Graphics,[155] Best Xbox 360 Sound,[158] and Best Action Game on Xbox 360,[143] PlayStation 3[159] and overall.[160]


Depiction of torture

A man is strapped to an overturned chair with a cloth concealing his face. Player character Trevor stands over him with a canister, about to pour water on his face. A text prompt in the upper left-hand corner reads "Hold [left stick] to pour water."
The mission "By the Book" involves a sequence wherein players use torture techniques including waterboarding to interrogate a man. The sequence ignited debate among journalists, who noted the mission's function as political commentary. Some felt that the use of torture was in poor taste, but others felt that it was necessary for the sequence's purpose.

The mission "By the Book" generated controversy from reviewers and commentators for its depiction of torture. In the mission, Trevor interrogates a man, Mr K, to extract information about an Azerbaijani fugitive who poses a threat to the FIB. Trevor uses torture equipment on the restrained man, which players select from a table. Once Mr K provides the FIB with the information, Trevor is asked to kill him, but instead drives him to the airport, providing him an opportunity to escape. While driving Mr K, Trevor monologues about the ineffectiveness of torture, pointing out Mr K's readiness to supply the FIB with the information without being tortured, and expressing that torture is used as a power play "to assert ourselves".[161]

Reviewers echoed that while the mission served as political commentary on the use of torture by the United States government, its use of torture was in poor taste. GameSpot's Petit felt that placing the torture scene in context with the monologue created a hypocrisy in the mission's function as a commentary device,[75] and IGN's MacDonald felt it "pushed the boundaries of taste".[76] In an editorial, Bramwell discussed whether the political commentary was overshadowed by the violent content, comparing the mission to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's "No Russian" controversy. He considered the sequence lacking enough context to justify its violence and summarised its function as "flawed".[162] Keith Best of Freedom from Torture said the torturer role-play "crossed a line".[163] Labour MP Keith Vaz expressed concern that underage players could be exposed to the mission.[164] Tom Chick defended the torture sequence, and wrote that unlike the "No Russian" mission or the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty, the underlying political commentary on torture in "By the Book" necessitated the violent content.[26]

Accusations of sexism

Some reviewers concluded that the game's depiction of women is misogynistic. In her review, Petit of GameSpot observed misogynistic undertones in the treatment of women as "strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humourless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists", and felt that the satirical representation of misogyny legitimises it.[75] Her review was met with backlash as users responded with 20,000 largely negative comments on the webpage and a petition for her firing.[165] Similarly, Plante of Polygon felt that the supporting female characters were constructed on stereotypes, and wrote that the game's "treatment of women is a relic from the current generation".[85] Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times considered the satirical portrayals of women uncreative, and added that violent and sexist themes hurt the game experience.[166] Edge noted that while "every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at", it treated its all-male lead characters in a similar vein through their stereotyped tendencies towards violence.[72] Dave Cook of VG247 reinforced the sentiment that the female characters were constructed on stereotypes in an editorial: "They're either there to be rescued, shouted at, fucked, to be seen fucking, put up with, killed, heard prattling away like dullards on their mobile phones or shopping".[167]

But is their [critics'] argument that in a game about gangsters and thugs and street life, there are prostitutes and strippers—that that is inappropriate? I don't think we revel in the mistreatment of women at all. I just think in the world we're representing, in Grand Theft Auto, that it's appropriate.

Dan Houser, Rockstar head writer and VP for creative, The New York Times, 9 November 2012[168]

Petit of GameSpot's comments and the backlash against them prompted a wider discussion about the role of women in Grand Theft Auto V and the gaming community's defensiveness towards criticism.[169][170] Rob Fahey of felt that debate about games' thematic concerns could become stigmatised if gamers opposed criticism, writing, "This isn't just about women—it's robbing every single one of us of the opportunity to have intelligent, interesting discussions about how our medium deals with..... complex topics..... It's frustrating, it's stupid, and it's downright boring—and it risks making our games stupid and boring too".[171] Journalist Tom Bissell agreed with Petit's "defensible position", and wrote that gamers respond to game criticism more aggressively than fans of other entertainment mediums.[172] Sam Houser, Rockstar Games co-founder, felt that the development team sometimes overlooked their portrayal of women in Grand Theft Auto games, but that the weight towards male characters "fit with the story we wanted to tell".[173]

Legal actions

In October 2013, hip-hop artist Daz Dillinger issued a cease-and-desist letter to Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive for allegedly using two of his songs without authorisation.[174][h] American television personality Karen Gravano of the reality television programme Mob Wives filed suit against Rockstar Games in February 2014 in allegation that a character in the game is based on her likeness and story and was depicted without her consent.[175][i] Rockstar filed to dismiss Gravano's lawsuit in April, and stated that the allegations are foreclosed by the First Amendment.[176] In July 2014, actress Lindsay Lohan also filed a lawsuit, claiming elements in the game were influenced by her image, voice and clothing line without permission.[177]


Critics concurred that Grand Theft Auto V was one of the best games of the seventh generation era of video game consoles,[20] and a great closing title before the emergence of the eighth generation.[178][179] Plante of Polygon observed that the game would be "a bridge between games' present and the future", and declared it "the closure of this generation, and the benchmark for the next".[85]'s Simon Miller considered it "the ultimate swansong for this console cycle" that would "cast a long shadow over the next".[180] Three days after its release, the game ranked second on IGN's list of "The Top 25 Xbox 360 Games". Editor Ryan McCaffrey considered that the scale and detail of the open world succeeded the majority of other Xbox 360 games. He wrote that the game is "a triumph both for gamers and for the medium itself, and it deserves its runaway success".[181] Hardcore Gamer placed it at number three on their "Top 100 Games of the Generation" list. They cited the game's improved shooting and driving mechanics over its predecessors. They also considered that the multiple protagonist design "was a welcome change of pace" and could become a benchmark for the eighth generation of gaming.[182] In May 2014, IGN ranked Grand Theft Auto V eighth on its list of the "Top 100 Games of a Generation", calling it a "huge, raucous, and wildly ambitious bridge towards the [eighth] generation of console gaming".[183] The next month, the game placed at number three on IGN's list of the "Games of a Generation: Your Top 100" as voted by readers of the site.[184]

Notes and references

  1. ^ In Grand Theft Auto V, the FIB and IAA are fictionalised parodies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), respectively.[26]
  2. ^ Media analyst Arvind Bhatia estimated that the development budget exceeded US $137 million.[34] The Scotsman reporter Marty McLaughlin estimated that the combined budget of the development and marketing efforts exceeded £170 million (US $265 million).[33]
  3. ^ Grand Theft Auto V shares its status as fifth-highest rated game on Metacritic with Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Perfect Dark, Metroid Prime, Grand Theft Auto III, Halo: Combat Evolved and NFL 2K1. The games that are rated higher than Grand Theft Auto V are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Soulcalibur and Grand Theft Auto IV.[81]
  4. ^ GameRankings rates Grand Theft Auto V as their second-best reviewed PlayStation 3 game behind Grand Theft Auto IV, and as their third-best reviewed Xbox 360 game, behind its predecessor and The Orange Box.[82]
  5. ^ GameRankings's aggregate score applies to the Xbox 360 version. A separate score of 76% for the PlayStation 3 version is based on one review.[94]
  6. ^ The game's first-day sales record beat the previous record of $500 million set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II.[114]
  7. ^ The game's $1 billion revenue broke the previous record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which took 15 days to surpass $1 billion in sales.[118]
  8. ^ The songs are "C-Walk" by Kurupt and "Nothin' But the Cavi Hit" by Mack 10 and Tha Dogg Pound, which were both produced by Dillinger and included in the West Coast Classics station.[174]
  9. ^ Gravano is the daughter of former Gambino crime family underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano and she featured in the first three seasons of Mob Wives, which follows women whose husbands or fathers have been arrested and imprisoned for Mafia-related crimes.[175]
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