Games Case: Grand Theft Auto V


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Even by the record-breaking standards of its series predecessors, Grand Theft Auto V, the latest instalment of the crime world game franchise developed by Scotland’s Rockstar North, has surpassed expectations.

The game, released in September 2013, achieved the fastest billion dollar sales gross of any product in entertainment history. It ended the year as the biggest selling entertainment item of any genre in the UK and many other markets during 2013 as well as topping many games critics’ ‘Best of 2013’ lists.

The franchise is now regularly spoken of as one of the UK’s most high profile cultural icons and successful exports, though its handling of crime and attitudes to women have also been the subject of controversy.

As GTA V launched, the BBC noted that the franchise had already sold more games than The Who sold records in their career. The GTA series has sold more than 135m units worldwide and has also had an impact on the music industry due to the critically-acclaimed soundtracks the games employ.

Since Rockstar North is part of Rockstar Games, a multinational company owned by Take-Two Interactive, it is worth clarifying what makes the franchise a UK product.

First, the Grand Theft Auto series was started by Rockstar North (then known as DMA Design Ltd). Rockstar North, which is based in Edinburgh, is the primary developer of the Grand Theft Auto series as well as working alongside other Rockstar Games studios.

Second, fans of the game believe its characterisation and tone reflect a distinctly British sense of humour and take on the noir-ish world of American crime.

Third, it makes a powerful connection with UK consumers in its home market, as well as thrilling gamers worldwide. Figures from the Entertainment Retailer’s Association show that the latest instalment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise sold 3.7 million copies in the UK alone last year.

GTA5 is expected to sell more than 25 million copies worldwide in its first year. Released on 17 September 2013, Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most critically acclaimed games ever. 

The game is a return to the fictional city of Los Santos last seen in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It also introduced multiple playable characters for the first time in the series allowing players to switch between  different protagonists.

In addition to collaborating with Rockstar Leeds on the portable Grand Theft Auto games, Rockstar North has also collaborated with Rockstar San Diego on its Red Dead Redemption, Team Bond’s L.A. Noire and with Rockstar Vancouver's Max Payne 3.