Rockstar Games, the studio behind the blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series, has said it will release the trailer for the next installment in December, setting the gaming world abuzz.
The trailer follows years of feverish anticipation and speculation among fans, and while the release date is not confirmed, it is widely expected to be the biggest game of the decade.
Here are five things to know about GTA:
The first two games in the series, which debuted in 1997, offered a top-down view of the action as players took on the role of a criminal on missions around cities.
But GTA III set the standard in 2001 for what games could be like, offering a combination of a three-dimensional open world, advanced graphics and gameplay that won widespread critical acclaim and legions of fans.
Each new GTA title since then has been hailed by both industry analysts and gamers for pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the medium.
And they have all been bestsellers, bringing in billions of dollars for Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar’s parent company.
Despite not releasing a flagship GTA game for more than a decade, the series is still a cash cow, especially because of its multiplayer online version where users can spend money on in-game items.
The last game in the franchise, GTA V, was released in 2013 and reached $1 billion in retail sales “faster than any entertainment release in history”, Take-Two said.
GTA V has sold around 190 million copies so far, according to Take-Two’s earnings report on Wednesday. That makes it the second best-selling game of all time, behind Minecraft.
The entire GTA franchise has sold a mammoth 410 million units so far, according to Take-Two.
Magnet for controversy
With the wild success came a wave of controversies. Critics have from the beginning accused the series of glorifying violence and encouraging players to engage in criminal behavior—allegations Take-Two executives have denied.
And GTA games have faced strong criticism for misogynistic depictions of women, caricatures of ethnic minorities, and depiction of torture.
Despite being praised for their often biting cultural satire, the level of violence in the game has often led to bans and restrictions in some countries.
Target Australia stopped selling GTA V in 2014, citing customer concerns.
GTA games also come with a content rating for mature audiences only.
Take-Two executives have reportedly said customers should be free to choose what games they purchase.
A cultural institution
GTA has become a cultural institution despite the criticism—their content has spawned numerous online memes and fans around the world reference its elements and dialogues.
And its growing influence has attracted some of the biggest names in the entertainment world to its cast.
Tommy Vercetti, the main character in 2002’s GTA: Vice City, was voiced by Hollywood star Ray Liotta.
Other cameos in the series include Samuel L. Jackson, Burt Reynolds, musician Phil Collins and comedian Ricky Gervais.
And a 2021 expansion pack for GTA V was centered on hip-hop superstar Dr. Dre.
The next chapter
Fans have been growing restless for years following the unprecedented success of GTA V as they wait for the next game.
Rockstar confirmed last year that the next title was in development, and within months, hackers stole and leaked gameplay footage that reportedly revealed that the main characters included a female protagonist—a first for the series.
Media reports said it appeared to be set in Vice City, a fictionalized version of Miami in which a previous GTA was also set.
Rockstar said Wednesday it will release a trailer for the game next month to mark 25 years of the studio, but did not say when the game will be released.
Industry watchers, citing Take-Two forecasts, have said a late 2024 release is possible.
Five things to know about the blockbuster GTA games (2023, November 9)
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