The latest entry in Rockstar’s crime simulator was always going to be a big release but no one could have predicted just how much of a success Grand Theft Auto V would prove to be.
The anticipation behind GTA V was such that major games media websites produced special weekly shows and articles dedicated to the series and the mere release of screen shots saw traffic spikes for Rockstar’s website.
It had been five years since the last full GTA game – 2008’s GTA IV – so demand for a sequel was understandably sky high. The game even received more Twitter buzz than next-gen consoles. More stores than ever opened at midnight to sell the game, with even the supermarkets hosting special events.
As a result, when GTA launched it smashed all sales records globally. It is the biggest entertainment launch ever, selling 1.57m units in just a day in the UK. That rose to 2.25m by the end of the week and is now at over 3m units sold.
The previous record holder was Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, which sold a still impressive 1.41m units in 24 hours.
Just to put Grand Theft Auto’s staggering week one sales into context, it was bigger than the week one sales of Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Batman: Arkham Origins, Pokémon X and Y, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag AND Battlefield 4 combined, with a couple of thousand units to spare.
And of course, it released to critical acclaim and received countless perfect scores, it became a mass-media subject, with the title appearing on national radio, TV and newspaper publications.
And it scared the hell out of rival publishers as well.
Only EA with FIFA dared to release next to Rockstar’s title and so retail suffered a weak October with few new game releases. It was a slow period that lasted right up until the arrival of Xbox One and PS4.
But Grand?Theft Auto V was ultimately a timely reminder on the power of video games, and the role retailers can play in making something a blockbuster success.