When you hear people talk about the ‘tail’ on a game, they’re talking about how long of a life it has after the first few big weeks of shelf life. For even most big games, the tail is very short, just a couple months. Then there are companies like Rockstar and games like Grand Theft Auto V.
During a financial call for Rockstar’s publisher Take-Two Interactive, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said that Grand Theft Auto V has now shipped a whopping 65 million copies across PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. To put that in perspective, that would be a copy for every adult and child in the United Kingdom. That word choice – shipped, versus sold – is sometimes used to mask a game’s actual sales, but at this point Grand Theft Auto V has sold so many copies that it’s just a matter of logistics. It’s easier for them to track how many they’ve shipped than sold.
Here’s the game sales over time:
- February 2016: 60 million copies
- August 2015: 54 million copies
- May 2015: 52 million copies
- February 2015: 45 million copies
- February 2014: 32.5 million copies
That is to say, Grand Theft Auto, since its September 2013 release date, continues to sell at a pace almost three years later what most games would give to sell even a month after launch.
Aside from being an incredibly popular series, the addition of mods with the release of the PC version and the constantly evolving Grand Theft Auto Online, which has been a continual source of revenue for Take-Two since it went online, both continue to help carry the series.
The only games that have sold more at this point are Tetris, which has been on just about every platform with a screen and directional buttons, Wii Sports, which was a free pack-in, and Minecraft, which has never been a full-priced game. For all intents and purposes, Grand Theft Auto V is the best-selling fully retail-priced game of all time at this point.
If you’re somehow one of the few gamers that doesn’t own a copy, you’re part of a shrinking crowd.