Five years ago today, on September 17, 2013, the biggest game of all time launched: Grand Theft Auto V. It’s kind of wild to think about how long it’s been since the game first debuted on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
When GTAV hit shelves, it was nothing short of revolutionary. The world Rockstar had created was open in a way no other game had yet achieved and ran well even on what was already ancient hardware. The world of Los Santos and its surrounding county was absolutely massive stretching from the game’s replica of Santa Monica pier up to the hilly scrublands of Big Sur. In this world, you could drive, fly, boat, hop on a bike with or without a motor, or even walk if you wanted. Listening to fans requests to make the world a shared one, Rockstar launched Grand Theft Auto Online alongside GTAV, taking the world of Grand Theft Auto truly online for the first time. You could go online in GTAIV, but it wasn’t the free-roaming open world of GTAO, which essentially just set you loose in a connected version of the world.
Since then, both games have evolved. GTAV saw releases on PC and modern consoles, adding huge graphical improvements and new ways to play the game like first-person mode. The PC version gave access to all manner of mods, letting you drop items anywhere, anytime, to create wild stunts, as well as mods that would let you pretend to be a superhero in the world.
On the online side of things, Rockstar has continued to release content updates for the still-free-to-play game, and the optional microtransactions have been so successful that they’ve changed the way Rockstar does business moving forward. The upcoming Red Dead Redemption II has a dedicated singleplayer, but Rockstar has already promised it will have an online mode, and we can expect that it’ll mimic GTAO to at least some degree.
Over on Reddit, the game still makes it to the top of gaming subreddits with a regularity that few games experience. Sometimes it’s for the long loading times of GTAO, or how to deal with griefers in the largely unmonitored playspace, but it’s just as often for those weird mods or awesome stunts people are pulling off.
Five years later, we’re on the verge of seeing the newest thing from Rockstar, and the only new thing to come since GTAV itself. Fans lament the lack of DLC for the game, blaming it on the success of GTAO. Red Dead Redemption II will be the first game built specifically for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and we’re looking forward to seeing how much more Rockstar can do with the systems, considering what the studio achieved with the last generation.
At the beginning of this piece, I called it the biggest game of all time. That’s not entirely true: Minecraft and Tetris are both bigger. But they’re both cheaper and available on far more platforms. When it comes to people intentionally picking up a game – going to the store or digital marketplace specifically to get a game and spend tons of time with it, GTAV is as big as it gets – the game was approaching 100 million copies sold in August.
Are you still playing GTAV or GTAO? Are you one of the people who picked it up on Xbox 360 and then again on PlayStation 4? Check out our gallery below not just for screens of the default GTAV and GTAO modes, but for some of the mods we’ve covered over the years.