If that figure is realised, the eagerly-awaited latest instalment of a series seen by some cultural commentators as violent beyond the
pale – and by others as a witty satire on modern life – will be the second-biggest-selling game of all time.
Games industry news site MCV says retail analysts Baird Equity Research expect GTA5 to bring in $1bn in its first month and a total
of $1.5bn by the end of March 2014. The previous chapter of the game series earned $900m in its first month. Some 3.5m units are expected to be shipped on its first day.
Only futuristic war game Call of Duty: Black Ops II has outgrossed the predictions made for GTA5 – it earned $1bn within just 15 days of its November 2012 release.
According to The Scotsman, the game’s five-year development and marketing cost £170m. That’s roughly equivalent to a big-budget
Hollywood movie – as is the expected first-year £1bn return. By comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, released in 2011, cost £157m and brought in £840m at the box office.
Many big-budget Hollywood films will earn much more through home sales and merchandising, which is not a serious consideration for GTA5 – but the game’s high-selling predecessors make it a safer investment than most blockbusters.
The GTA games have their roots in suicidal mammals. They were developed by Edinburgh-based DMA Design, originally from Dundee. Its first success was Lemmings, in which the player had to stop rodents from plunging to their deaths.
DMA has since been rebranded Rockstar North and is now owned by multinational games giant Take-Two Interactive, but the GTA games are still produced in Edinburgh, albeit with lengthy research trips to Los Angeles.
Brian Baglow, of industry body the Scottish Games Network, told The Scotsman: “By any sort of commercial scale, GTA is easily Scotland’s largest cultural export ever. The series has sold something like 135 million copies so far.
“It’s a fully global phenomenon. It is a massive cultural and creative success. It’s arguably bigger than the next Star Wars film.”
He said GTA was unfairly thought of as gratuitously violent and added: “I’d really like to see the UK government acknowledge the fact one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world was made here.”