A skyline of GTA V with some of the protagonists of previous GTA video game titles

A Deep Dive Into The Numbers Behind Grand Theft Auto

Like many of you, the Grand Theft Auto franchise had a tremendous impact on me growing up. I played all of the Grand Theft Auto games (except the first two) on just about every major gaming platform out there. I do not think it’d be much of an exaggeration if I stated that I have put in over 1000 hours into GTA titles (so far). Maybe a rookie number compared to many but it is what it is.

The reason I write this article is simple: I am fascinated by how Rockstar has dominated the entire gaming industry with a single franchise (if not more) and I wanted to find out more about it and share it with all of you. So, go on and read this article if you are fascinated by gaming, numbers or both.

A Brief History Behind Grand Theft Auto


The first Grand Theft Auto game actually released way back in 1997 thanks to Rockstar North. The second iteration of the game, Grand Theft Auto II, released in 1999. Although both of the games witnessed decent commercial success, it was the release of Grand Theft Auto III that really turned heads. But that was only the start for Rockstar Games. It went only uphill from then on with the consequent releases of Vice City, San Andreas, GTA IV, and GTA V. In fact, each and every one of those titles won GOTY awards from gaming publications across the world. Fun fact: Grand Theft Auto was actually originally titled Race’n’Chase and the concept was “to produce a fun, addictive and fast multi-player car racing and crashing game which uses a novel graphics method”.


Let’s Talk Numbers

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the numbers behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise.  Let’s get started with the unit sales of the last five releases of the franchise:

Row chart showing the unit sales in millions of GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, GTA IV and GTA V
Figures from Statista

There’s no surprise that GTA V was the highest selling game not only in the franchise but among all the games ever published by Rockstar Games. Among all the releases by Rockstar, the second place goes to Red Dead Redemption 2 racking in 57 million copies sold. In total, Rockstar Games have sold at least 260 million copies off of these five games only. And this does not even include any of the expansion packs or remasters. Taking all of that into account, Rockstar crosses the 400 million mark.

GTA V itself has brought in $8.33 billion in revenue for Rockstar since its release and that number only seems to grow. I myself bought it twice- on Steam and the PlayStation store. And before this makes you laugh, 37.3% of copies of GTA V sold were to people who had already owned the game. Also, I do not mean to compare different art forms but GTA V has brought in the same amount of revenue as Avatar, Avengers Endgame and Avatar: The Way Of Water together- the three highest-grossing films of all time.

A Stacked Bar Chart comparing GTA V's sales to that of the three highest grossing films of all time

According to Statista, in the fiscal year 2023 (from April 2022 to March 2023), the video game publisher Take-Two Interactive (parent company of Rockstar Games) generated a total revenue of 5.3 billion USD, up from 3.5 billion USD in the preceding fiscal year. Take-Two ended the same fiscal year with a gross profit of 2.2 billion USD.

Projections For GTA VI


With less than 24 hours left till the release of the GTA VI trailer, the hype is real. I do not remember the last time Rockstar Games had released a stinker in the form of a video game and I sure do hope it’s not this one. At the time of its release, GTA V sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours and that should easily be overtaken by GTA VI. Overtaking GTA V in terms of copies sold will be a herculean target to achieve but it will not be impossible for Rockstar Games. There are more than 60 million PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S & X (see what I did there?) in existence and that is 60 million devices that have the requirements to run GTA VI.

As a GTA fan, I do not ask for much from GTA VI: A bigger map, a decent plot and the same old freedom of doing whatever the hell I want inside the game. I just hope my 3060 build is enough to comfortably run this bad boy.

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