I recognize parts of New York because of ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’. The open-world video game where you take on various citizens of a fictionalized New York is so painstakingly recreated that I can see my college dorm. It’s also, really fun and a story-telling masterpiece but more importantly its sequel, ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ comes out TODAY.
‘Grand Theft Auto V’ is poised to reap about a $1-1.6 billion dollars in sales after being released today. That’s about 20-25 million units at $50 bucks a pop. The game cost about $250 million dollars to make and, if it were a movie, would be more than twice as successful as this year’s most successful domestic movie, Iron Man 3.
GTA V comes at a time when the video industry, like the movie industry, is shifting from expensive blockbuster games to cheaper mobile games like Angry Birds which are much more easier to produce but have massive commercial success. After all, retail sales of more expensive video games have declined whereas digital downloads of cheaper games have increased in the last year.
Game console companies have taken note and the next iteration of Xboxes and Playstations, launching later this year, feature are media machines able to digital connect movies, music, digital context like Netflix and maybe TV down the line. Nintendo, has traditionally taken a more gaming-centric approach, eschewing these media features, to their platform has seen disappointing sales month after month and a sinking stock.
Takeaway: ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ is one of the most important games not just because it’s (critically) awesome but is a remnant of old-fashioned analog game making in an increasing mobile and digital industry space.