As the last hurrah of the 7th-gen of consoles, Grand Theft Auto 5 arrives later this month looking to pull off the perfect final heist. Its target: your wallet. The date: September 17th.
The plan: to assemble the single greatest sandbox title in video gaming history. It ought to be easy pickings.
Developed by Edinburgh-based studio Rockstar North, GTA 5 is the sum total of thousands of hours of toil, from fact-finding trips to the title's So Cal locale, to late-night killer coding sprees. Over 5 years of feverish design, legitimate gangsters have been coaxed onto the mic, in-game vehicles engineered into existence and hilarious advertising campaigns unveiled online. Now, Rockstar is ready to reveal the total cost of all that effort.
Speaking to Edinburgh's own Scotsman newspaper on Sunday, GTA 5 art director Aaron Garbut placed the sum at an astounding £170 million (roughly $265m USD). That's even more than the famous fee paid by Shenmue II back in 2001 ($132m in 2013 money), and almost 7 times the figure outlaid by Quantic Dream to make Heavy Rain a reality.
Unsurprisingly, the only series to even come close to touching Grand Theft Auto's investment is Call of Duty, whose first Black Ops title debuted for around 250 million dollars back in 2010.
For $265 million, GTA players could've also purchased:
- 66.3 million 'Bleeder Burgers' from GTA IV's 'Burger Shot' eatery (at $4 a pop)
- 4.4 million copies of GTA 5 (at $60)
- 2650 'Calton Heights' Apartments in GTA: San Andreas (at $100,000)
- 88,000 Quad Bikes in GTA: Vice City (at $3000)
- 14.5 million shares in Rockstar Parent company Take-Two Interactive (at $18.22)
With the heist title expected to shift over 25 million copies in its first year alone (generating roughly $1.6 billion in revenue), stock costs have more than doubled over the last 12 months - surely a reflection of the success expected of the evergreen franchise. It should be remembered, however, that for all the care and attention Rockstar poured into the title's predecessor GTA IV, a small, but vocal minority of fans were turned off by what they perceived as being the series' overall 'loss of fun.'
If nothing else, the episode proved that the GTA behemoth wasn't infallible. Adding to the series potential problems is the imminent arrival of the Xbox One & PlayStation 4 consoles, neither of which feature 'enhanced' versions of the title (yet). With standard editions of the game retailing for $60, some fans may find it hard to break into their next-gen piggy banks, even for a title as hotly anticipated as GTA.
The gargantuan figure first appeared alongside an article touting the success of the bizarrely British series. Despite its focus on American criminality (GTA: London notwithstanding), the franchise often betrays hints as to its UK origins, including everything from 'Father Ted' signage, to recreations of Scotland's Forth Road Bridge.
Sadly, for all the positive interest in GTA's success has generated in British development, Garbut believes the series' trouble-making reputation has gone before it in preventing wider governmental recognition.
“For many people in power globally, GTA is just a great big red flashing light because it’s perceived as something bad and violent, defined by tabloid hysteria...but if the series was just about gratuitous violence, it would not have achieved the sales and success it has."
Do you view Grand Theft Auto as a typically British series, or an American one? Will the video game industry ever outspend its Hollywood competition? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check out our rundown of GTA V's pre-order incentives.
Grand Theft Auto V releases on September 17th for Xbox 360 & PS3.
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.