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Why did GTA V sell so well?


Dutch VDL
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OK so it is a good game but the story's not that great and other GTA games (such as GTA IV and GTA San Andreas) were better. How come it sold so much better than the others?

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GTA has serious brand recognition. Even GTA IV broke sales records at release. GTA V was marketed as the biggest and best GTA yet with more protagonists, presumably more activities and a map size bigger than GTA IV + San Andreas + RDR1. We were returning to San Andreas which was the location of the wildly popular GTA: San Andreas and seemed like we would return to the crazy tone of that game too.

 

Reading online it says the combined budget for development and marketing on this game was $265 million dollars, a lot went into marketing the game so regardless of quality GTA V was marketed so well that it was almost a guarantee to sell well. 

 

As for its continued success in sales a lot of it will have to do with its ever growing Online mode. Also while perception of GTA V here may not be that good, I've seen gaming youtubers based in my location and often the videos of theirs which get among the most views are GTA V, SP as well as Online. GTA V is more popular than IV and San Andreas among the casual gamer crowd I think, regardless of whether it is better than them. 

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Midnight Hitman

The hype R* generated with trailer 1, including all that speculation whether or not whole San Andreas is included, etc., together with R*'s silence marketing strategy, made the game extraordinarily popular before release, additionally to it being a new GTA game, which already makes it an anticipated game. This, plus GTA Online.

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To be fair, GTA IV was received negatively by a fair amount of people despite it making a lot of sales. Brand recognition is the right answer, and the fact that every new game lives off the hype of the previous successful titles.

Furthermore, GTA V is, on the surface level (graphics/sounds/gunplay/animations/voice acting/vehicles/attention to detail) is considered better than its competitors in 2013 so naturally, it was the main go-to game in its time. Its flaws only became apparent over time, but at launch, we were all on the hype train and considered it the messiah of gaming, most still do to this day, in fact. 

Edited by Ryo256
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As others have said, Brand Recognition. I also think people tend to forget just how wide of a reach GTA has in terms of audience. These are the kinds of games your family members that rarely touch video games ask about or maybe even buy for themselves. Not only that, GTA V got released multiple times on different platforms and over the past decade there's been more people getting into gaming. So, there's a variety of reasons.

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Adding to what everyone else said, I also think GTA always had this appeal to it that makes it "cool" compared to other games and genres. It's the type of series that appeals to people that think fantasy role-playing games or strategy games are for nerds and GTA V, like any other title in the series, has that appeal. That and the fact that GTA was already established as a franchise around the time V came out.

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BigBoyBertram

The other commenters have already pretty much hit the nail on the head. To add one thing, I think a big part of it has to do with the fact that GTA V filled an incredibly coveted and desirable role in the gaming landscape-that being the accessible and believable modern day open world crime simulator. Despite other developers and franchises attempting to fill that space in some way (looking at you Watch Dogs and Saints Row), no one has gotten close to the dominant success enjoyed by Rockstar and GTA V. Combine that with the brand recognition of Grand Theft Auto, the premier status of Rockstar Games, the games high review scores and acclaim, and the success of GTA Online and you have your answer.

 

Is GTA V the best GTA? In my opinion no, even though I think the game is great and doesn't deserve nearly the amount of harsh criticism directed towards it by some fans. GTA V's perceived strengths and weaknesses in relation to other Rockstar or GTA Games does not really matter with regards to the games success. In my opinion, any GTA game released at the same tame brought up to modern standards would likely have had the same success. 

Edited by BigBoyBertram
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Cheatz/Trickz

Everyone is saying brand recognition but that only goes so far. Of course the fact that it is a main line GTA is enough to break records, but GTA V is extremely accessible and casual. There’s literally zero skill or finesse to the gameplay, it holds your hand and overpowers you immensely, which gives it a very broad appeal, this and Rockstar’s support of it has enabled GTA Online to reach new heights for the series, sales wise.
 

V is still super shallow, but depth never mattered when it comes to online gaming. 
 

On 10/14/2022 at 2:43 PM, Ryo256 said:

To be fair, GTA IV was received negatively by a fair amount of people despite it making a lot of sales. Brand recognition is the right answer, and the fact that every new game lives off the hype of the previous successful titles.

Furthermore, GTA V is, on the surface level (graphics/sounds/gunplay/animations/voice acting/vehicles/attention to detail) is considered better than its competitors in 2013 so naturally, it was the main go-to game in its time. Its flaws only became apparent over time, but at launch, we were all on the hype train and considered it the messiah of gaming, most still do to this day, in fact. 


Yes, a fair amount of kids, myself included at the time, and people with the attention span of a gold fish complained about GTA IV because it lacked planes and whatever. It wasn’t San Andreas HD edition and that upset some people. 
 

But look, Saints Row 2 basically delivered on being the wacky HD open world game that one might have once imagined a sequel to San Andreas to be, and it didn’t sell anywhere near as much as GTA IV. Saints Row made its name off the back of GTA’s success too, so brand recognition is much less a factor here - if you’d heard of GTA in the late 2000’s, you’d probably heard of Saints Row and other open world games looking to take GTA’s crown. 
 

So with that said, why didn’t Saints Row 2 even sell anywhere near IV? It had the planes, the customisation and general brainlessness that everyone wanted from IV right? 

 

As for GTA V vs its competitors, you’re correct. V is superficially perfect, for the average player who doesn’t really look too closely at things or lacks critical thinking, it really is a near perfect game. It does a good job of keeping that mask on with very tight core mechanics. 

 

Edited by Cheatz/Trickz
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Literally nobody would've still been buying this sh*t post-2015 if it weren't for GTA Online. Sales numbers are hyperinflated because of the Online mode. If it were just the story itself, game wouldn't have even passed 35m.

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ArmenianAssasin77
1 hour ago, D T said:

Literally nobody would've still been buying this sh*t post-2015 if it weren't for GTA Online. Sales numbers are hyperinflated because of the Online mode. If it were just the story itself, game wouldn't have even passed 35m.

If this if that. The fact is that this game sold 11m copies in the first day without the online mode so you are just waffling a load of bullocks.

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23 hours ago, ArmenianAssasin77 said:

If this if that. The fact is that this game sold 11m copies in the first day without the online mode so you are just waffling a load of bullocks.

No one is here to argue that fact. The topic of discussion is why it sold as well as it did. And there's too many variables at play to ever provide a definitive answer, so all we're left with are educated guesses. If you genuinely believe the majority of the copies sold were for singleplayer, I have a bridge to sell you mate. Only 16% of players even completed the final mission on PS4 and only 34% unlocked Trevor. The game continues to sell because there's a new kid turning 12 years old everyday, and all his friends at school play GTA Online too.

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Why does Coca Cola sell well? Because it's addictive, there you have it, the same thing with with GTA. GTA is the Coca Cola of the gaming world

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its online mode specifically is the reason why

Edited by 44Orca
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Algonquin Assassin
15 hours ago, D T said:

No one is here to argue that fact. The topic of discussion is why it sold as well as it did. And there's too many variables at play to ever provide a definitive answer, so all we're left with are educated guesses. If you genuinely believe the majority of the copies sold were for singleplayer, I have a bridge to sell you mate. Only 16% of players even completed the final mission on PS4 and only 34% unlocked Trevor. The game continues to sell because there's a new kid turning 12 years old everyday, and all his friends at school play GTA Online too.


I agree. GTAO is obviously what drives the sales and probably why they brought it to current gen consoles. 
 

Hell when you search for GTA V on the PS Store it’s a nightmare to sift through all the various editions and bundles so some people who might only be interested in GTAO end up getting GTA V too because it looks like an attractive deal on face value.
 

Edited by Algonquin Assassin
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ArmenianAssasin77
19 hours ago, D T said:

No one is here to argue that fact. The topic of discussion is why it sold as well as it did. And there's too many variables at play to ever provide a definitive answer, so all we're left with are educated guesses. If you genuinely believe the majority of the copies sold were for singleplayer, I have a bridge to sell you mate. Only 16% of players even completed the final mission on PS4 and only 34% unlocked Trevor. The game continues to sell because there's a new kid turning 12 years old everyday, and all his friends at school play GTA Online too.

Lol this is some dumb sh*t right here, you cant use the achievements as a valid argument because people with 5 alt accounts are obviously not gonna complete the story 5 times. Also people bought this game because is just a fckin masterpiece.

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Launch sales were most certainly not because of GTA Online as 1. it wasn't out yet and 2. it wasn't what it is today anyway. So the initial sales spike, which broke records itself, was indeed for the Story Mode - it was the next big GTA game and there were more console players than ever waiting for a new GTA. And regardless of your personal opinions about the story, it did review very well and most people had fun with it.

 

Hell, this forum and many other internet sites broke records themselves with discussions and hype about GTA V. At that point it had nothing to do with GTA Online as we barely knew a thing and it wasn't out yet for people to experience.

 

Subsequent sales after October 1st 2013, or perhaps 2014/15 (Heists), where GTA Online started growing exponentially, then yes, until today most will be due to GTA Online. The reason why GTA V Is still in the top sales lists is indeed due to GTA Online, but at launch it had nothing to do with it.

 

GTA VI will be the same story. Even if GTA Online only launches like two months after launch, it will still break sales records. Oh, it will.

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arisfelbonilla

It is more than clear that the gta saga is one of the best better than the supposed competitions
Besides, it was the most anticipated gta and also the fact that it continues to be sold is thanks to online, in my opinion, if it weren't for that, it would be at most 40 million copies.

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Naughtius Maximus

GTA series had made a name for itself even during the 2D Era games. I remember how some of our older brothers recalling GTA2 as their favourite game; how they enjoyed blowing sh*t up with a tank or taking a bus full of people to be processed into sausage meat. GTA III came and Vice City and San Andreas, the rest is history well-acknowledged. When we heard about the announcement of GTA IV, I recall everyone going batsh*t crazy, gazed up on being teased by then-magical graphical standards and realistic physics. And I think GTA IV has pretty much stood the test of time in this regard. Of course, some people were happy with GTA IV's direction and breathing a new sense into the series and some were not (mostly because most of them expected another GTA San Andreas clone). Nevertheless, GTA IV earned a special ground in the series, unmatched by some certain standards even at today: Decent graphics for the time, realistic physics, breathing-real-life atmosphere, serious storytelling and absurd but well-written characters.

 

Thus, by that time GTA series was many things: One of the greatest open-world game franchises, a whacky "do-whatever-the-f*ck-you-please" crime simulator, a serious story-driven game and even included RPG elements up to some level. The gaming community was very diverse back then and all these people found their cup of tea in Grand Theft Auto. When GTA V came out, they all expected to find something that applied to their tastes. So they all jumped on the bandwagon to get their hands on the game as quick as possible. I'm saying this because if I'm not wrong, GTA V had a record of sales even in its first months on the market. Were they all satisfied? That's another topic of conversation.

 

Regardless, I think GTA V ended up to referring to a newer generation of gamers. On paper, GTA V was perfect: Astounding graphics, massive map, multi-protagonist system, heists, customization in general... Even the older gamers were impressed by the promises but I imagine most of them became disappointed, especially the ones who are more about the "single-player experience". The younger games... they didn't mind much. Then GTA Online came out and all came in full circle. I think it's no surprise that the new gaming generation cares more about online multiplayer experience. I haven't played GTA Online to give it a brutally honest review but to think about, GTA Online was Rockstar's first serious attempt to craft an MMO. As in all online games released after 2010 or so, it's a cash-grab. However, they managed to deliver what all these kids wanted from both a colloborative and a competitive online game. Updates have come and gone and it's apparently still a fresh mint for these kids. I've tried GTA:O, I've spent a week or two playing it. I wouldn't blame all this on the game itself or whatever because my country's internet provider services generally do such a sh*tty job that I can't maintain enough ping to experience the game. I was fond of the idea of GTA-flavored MMO and I appreciated Rockstar's effort but I realized SAMP, MTA and IV-MP were much more of a joyful ride for me.

Edited by Naughtius Maximus
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The prediction that GTA 6 will break sale records is in itself an evidence that quality of the game isn't a main factor (no doubt, it is a factor but not the main one) but rather that it has GTA in its title. People will buy it because they infer from their positive opinion of GTA V and RDR2 that GTA 6 will follow their footsteps and must be good as well, so why not pre-order and buy on launch? Of course there will be those that will regret later on but they will buy it and add to the initial sales number.

Same story with GTA SA and IV.
Same story with GTA IV and V.

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Because it was so anticipated, it got tens of thousands of people to visit this forum between 2011 and 2013 to go crazy over any sliver on information every single day and speculate anything and everything imaginable. It was one of the most greatly anticipated games regardless of how good it actually wound up to be. It sold itself way before it even launched.

Edited by ddarko12
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It's simply an amazing and unique game. Even after 9 years, there's nothing on the market quite like it. It's the complete package, both story and online mode-wise. Although the insane longevity is absolutely due to GTAO, I'm pretty sure that without GTAO becoming what it is today, the game very easily would've sold over 65-70m units in its lifetime. It's absolutely laughable that some people think the game would've sold 35-40m units lifetime without online, as it had already sold 45m units months before the PC version even came out and GTAO properly took off with the Heists update. And game completion rate is a horrible metric to judge the quality and sales of a game because most people don't finish games.

 

And no game can sell this well over such a long period of time without insanely good word of mouth. No amount of brand value or marketing can do it.

Edited by Zapper
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On 10/14/2022 at 4:45 AM, Dutch VDL said:

OK so it is a good game but the story's not that great and other GTA games (such as GTA IV and GTA San Andreas) were better.

 

Well, that's subjective. Just because you thought that doesn't mean everyone did.

 

 

GTA V released at the perfect time. The end of Gen 7 / beginning of Gen 8, they could get those sales before they released it on Gen 8. Then PC 6 months later

 

Then of course Gen 9

ppNaW16.png

 

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Miss Malevolent

Brand recognition... Beautiful graphics... Updates galore... Massive Map where I'm still finding things I hadn't seen before... It's not the perfect game, (no game is honestly) but it's a better than average time waster...especially after 8/9 years.

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On 10/14/2022 at 12:45 PM, Dutch VDL said:

OK so it is a good game but the story's not that great and other GTA games (such as GTA IV and GTA San Andreas) were better. How come it sold so much better than the others?

It's called population growth, there were alot more gamers in 2013 then there was in 2004, plus it is GTA, it was always going to sell well. 

Edited by Nards1000
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On 10/19/2022 at 7:05 PM, Spider-Vice said:

Launch sales were most certainly not because of GTA Online as 1. it wasn't out yet and 2. it wasn't what it is today anyway. So the initial sales spike, which broke records itself, was indeed for the Story Mode - it was the next big GTA game and there were more console players than ever waiting for a new GTA. And regardless of your personal opinions about the story, it did review very well and most people had fun with it.

I believe D T was meaning about the lifetime sales of GTA V, in which regard he is absolutely right. No doubt that even without online a GTA game would break sales (see GTA: Definitive Edition, even a shoddy remaster of 20 year old games is able to rack up 20 mil or so sales just because of the name alone), but it definitely wouldn't have been as big without it.

Personally, I agree with D T. It's a bit unfair judging GTA V's "success" with other games released because of this. But, even taking out GTA: Online out of the equation GTA V still remains the best-selling GTA game to date. I believe GTA 6 will still break that ground for two reasons:
1. People expecting Online to release at some point.
2. The sheer number of gamers growing significantly since 2013.

I could ramble on about comparing sales figures of GTAs a bit more but that would go way too off-topic.

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24 minutes ago, olzhas1one said:

I believe D T was meaning about the lifetime sales of GTA V, in which regard he is absolutely right.

His numbers are laughably wrong, no matter how you look at them. It's completely asinine. He said the game wouldn't have crossed 35m lifetime sales without proper online support, when in reality it had already sold over 45m units months before the PC version came out and GTAO took off with the Heists update. The game would've breezed past 75-80m units even without proper online support, especially if VI actually took this long to come out in that scenario as well.

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StreetLife102

GTA 5 sold so well probably because of its next level graphics and new amazing features that previous GTA games doesn't have.. especially the new character switching option which made people so hyped when R* introduced it on the trailers

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