We were pretty taken aback last month when we discovered the Grand Theft Auto V, which turns eight this year, was the UK’s third best selling game of 2020. Well, it turns out that it goes even deeper than that.
First of all, GTA V’s 2020 resurgence wasn’t just a local phenomenon – according to publisher Take 2, last year was the game’s most successful since it’s launch in 2013, selling around 10 million copies worldwide.
Now, there’s clearly a line to be drawn between the success of the industry writ large in 2020 and GTA V’s sales spike. Like any global cultural phenomenon, GTA sales tend to be pretty steady, so if games sales are up, chances are Rockstar and Take 2 are going to be feeling the benefit.
However, there’s another piece of the puzzle – one that includes virtual skydivers and Glasgwegians doing shifts as fantasy Californian bin men.
From Jank To Jackpot
GTA Online, the game’s initially lackluster and technically fraught multiplayer mode, has blossomed into one of the most popular online games on the planet. While it might not be doing Fortnight numbers, GTA V’s average monthly player count over the last year suggests that the GTA Online playerbase was likely more or less on par with that of Among Us and Falls Guys, two of 2020’s most talked about multiplayer games.
According to Take 2, the service enjoyed its busiest year ever last year and garnered a 28% hike in revenue for the company. Those numbers look set to continue climbing too, with Take 2 having announced it will be bringing a standalone version of GTA Online to PS5 and Xbox Series X later this year.
Something For Everyone
So why now, nearly eight years later, is GTA Online more popular than ever? For one thing, GTA V was briefly given away for free as a promotion on the Epic Games Store in May, bringing in a wave of new players. Part of why those players are choosing to stick around, however, could be the sheer breadth of activities now possible in the space.
Years of updates, mods and community driven scenarios have extended GTA Online’s sandbox to fill the Sahara and then some. In how many other games can you join a hiking group, race in Formula One, take part in an alien gang war, fit in a round of golf, catch a serial killer, hit up the arcade, play as bigfoot, invest in the real estate market, and then wrap it up with something a little more pedestrian like robbing a bank?
As the pandemic continues, it seems likely GTA Online will continue to grow and become even more chaotic. And who knows – by the time this is over, we may well know what Rockstar has in store next for the series.
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