Why is Grand Theft Auto V so popular?

Grand Theft Auto V is not just another video game.  It’s a massive game franchise boasting sixteen games in the series, plus two expansion packs for the original and two expansions for GTA IV, including a multiplayer title.  This multi-platform game has currently amassed worldwide sales of around 150 million copies and won several prestigious awards.  So, what’s it all about and why is it so popular?

Grand Theft Auto V was released on September 17, 2013.  GTA 5 is the latest installment in the long-running GTA series and is the first major title since Grand Theft Auto IV, released in 2008.  It’s an action-adventure, free roaming game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games.   

It was released on XBox 360, Playstation 3 and MS Windows on September 17, 2013 and broke all sorts of records.  It made over 1 billion dollars in just three days.  That’s more than any film or album ever made!  On November 20, 2014 it was also released on OS X and Linux.

GTA 5 takes place in the fictional city of Los Santos in southern California, which is based on Los Angeles.  It is set between the years 2001 to 2013.   

In the game, the city has been taken over by gangs, crime and corruption.  If you’re walking down the street minding your own business, you might be quickly killed because the game never tells you who you are facing until it’s too late to react! 

To create realistic renderings of Los Santos, Rockstar North took 140,000 pictures from more than 50 different locations across southern California.  Outside the city, there are two major fictional environments, being the countryside around Los Santos to the north-west and the salt flats to the east. 

The story follows three characters, who you can choose to control – Michael De Santa (played by Ned Luke), Franklin Clinton (played by Shawn Fonteno) and Trevor Philips (played by Steven Ogg) – as they do missions for various people around Los Santos to make money. They also work together to commit bigger crimes.  There is a story mode which offers three different playing styles, focusing on Michael who works as a bank robber. 

The core gameplay of Grand Theft Auto V is largely based on driving around, shooting enemies, committing crimes, and completing missions.  

The game starts with a heist scene before quickly transitioning to a dramatic car chase involving multiple vehicles, including helicopters, police cars, and bikes. The player has to use different types of vehicles to go through the streets without getting caught by the police or killed by other players who are trying to kill them. 

The driving mechanics of GTA V are one of the best I have ever seen. Players can choose their favourite vehicle and practice driving it around the city, go on a drive-by shooting spree, or engage in a car chase with police officers.  Drive by shootings are performed by holding down the aim button while driving and firing weapons out of car windows.  The third person perspective of the game allows players to explore Los Santos freely without any loading screen or breaks in between.

It is visually very impressive with a high attention to detail and runs very smoothly.  With so many missions, scenarios and locations it provides plenty of content to get lost in.  There’s a large online community of players to interact with inside the game.  This huge social base is a key element to its popularity.  The ability to behave in ways that would get you quickly locked, in the real world, is another obvious attraction to some.

Grand Theft Auto V has now been around for some 8 years, so what next?

Grand Theft Auto V developers had an idea of what they wanted to create, but they were never able to do it on their own.  They needed help from the players.  With no sign of GTA VI, in the near future, this encouraged other developers to fill the void, such as those from FiveM. 

The story of FiveM is not that different to that of Grand Theft Auto V.  The game developers knew they could never create the game on their own, so they opened up the development process to the community and let them tinker around with some new concepts.  FiveM is a modification for Grand Theft Auto V enabling you to play multiplayer on customized dedicated servers.  It allows the gamer more freedom to explore and take on the roles of different characters.  Not just characters involved in crime and car chasing.

I think it is safe to say that this was a good idea.  It may not be perfect but people are able to make their mark in a game instead of just playing something someone else created for them, with its restrictions.

We should think about games as an opportunity for co-creation with players who are not only willing but actively eager to contribute something unique and meaningful. 

FiveM has certainly breathed new life into an already hugely successful game and opened it up to a more diverse audience.  I don’t see the popularity of this game dwindling just yet.

 

 

 

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