Grand Theft Auto V: Violent game has raked in more than Star Wars
Is it a bird? is it a plane? No, it’s a masked thug hurling a grenade at the doors of an upended security truck that he and his pal are about to rob.
A typical scene from Grand Theft Auto V, which takes gamers into a world where society has deteriorated into a bonkers, kill-or-be-killed free-for-all.
The aim on the game is to carry out heists, steal cars and enact brutal revenge killings.
Anyone who gets in the way is likely to be murdered using any one of an array of state-of-the-art guns – and that includes innocent civilians and cops.
Despite its vicious brutality, only a fool would believe that everyone who plays GTA V falls into the game's '18+' age category.
It’s enough to make the average parent long for the days when Pac Man and Mario Kart ruled the roost.
But while GTA V may well be one of the most violent and controversial pieces of entertainment ever to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public, it has also made the most money.
The fifth version of the Rockstar Games production was released in 2013 and has now reportedly seen its takings top $6 billion (£4.2bn) worldwide.
That’s double the amount brought in by the highest grossing films ever – including the Star Wars and Superman franchises – and that’s taking DVD sales into account.
“Since its launch in 2013, GTA V has sold 90 million units, putting its total haul for publisher Take-Two Interactive in the neighbourhood of $6 billion,” market analyst Doug Creutz said.
The video game, which is set in the fictional state of San Andreas, remains popular following the release of downloadable content packs.
It was developed in Britain and is regarded as one of our most successful exports. It broke industry records when it was released, earning $800m (£560m) in its first day and $1bn (£700m) in the first three days.
“Videogames are a much better business than [movie] studios,” said KeyBanc analyst Evan Wingren.
Though there are games which have sold more copies – such as world-building game Minecraft, which has sold 144 million units – GTA V has earned more overall due to its higher retail price.
Only first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops has come anywhere near to its market success
The premium online edition, which was announced this week, costs £59.99, while the Xbox One and PS4 versions are even more pricey at £67.99.
According to Andrew Taylor, from The Playstation Centre in Cradley Heath, the hefty price tag is offset by add ons that users can snap up for free.
“They only bring one out every few years, but when they do it is a big deal for gamers,” he said. “It’s like the World Cup and everyone looks forward to it.
“The makers have been very successful at keeping up the interest in the game by releasing new chapters every six months or so. When other games do this they charge £20 for it, but GTA gives it away for nothing.”
GTA V follows the criminal exploits of three characters in Los Santos – a fictional recreation of Los Angeles – in the wild and lawless (again fictional) state of San Andreas.
You get to roam around the state switching between these winners: a middle-aged gangster coming out of retirement, a drug-addled lunatic, and a young gun just starting out in the criminal world.
Unsurprisingly, and like earlier versions of the the game, (GTA was first released in 1997) it has been widely criticised for its ultra-violent content and less than flattering portrayal of women.
But as far as Mr Taylor is concerned, the more controversial the content the more people are likely to want to see it.
“You get prostitutes, you get extreme violence...it is the worst of the worst as far as games are concerned,” he said. “There really has never been anything else like it.
“But getting bad press has probably helped it’s success. If you tell people something is bad and they shouldn’t play it, you will always get some who will do the opposite.”
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