Video Games

Grand Theft Auto V Rakes in $800 Million on First Day of Sales

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Rockstar games

At this point it may be easier to count the people who don't own a copy of Grand Theft Auto V than the people who do. The game took in $800 million worldwide on Tuesday, its first day of sales, and it hasn't even hit several big international markets, including Japan.

The game, which cost $125 million to develop and $150 million to market, is expected to reach $1 billion in sales within a few days.

That means it will likely reach the $1 billion mark faster than any game or movie in history. (As a comparison, last year's big interactive hit, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, took in about $500 million on its opening day, and reached the $1 billion threshold in just over two week—faster, as the L.A. Times notes, than box office super-hit Avatar

I started playing the game Tuesday evening, and one of the things that already stands out to me is how many political references there are. As in previous games, there are fake radio stations with fake, often bitingly funny, commercials that you can listen to during the game's driving sequences. After about seven hours of play, I've already heard commercials that reference mandatory gun ownership, financial regulation, lobbying expenditures, and union power. That said, I'm not sure there's a political agenda to be found in the game so much as a gleeful universal cynicism about just about everything. 

I wrote a brief piece on the history of video games in Reason's August/September issue. 

Update: The New York Times offers this bit on the game's politics in a piece that interviews Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser:

Sexual politics aside, Grand Theft Auto V is in many ways quite liberal. Mr. Houser regards it as evenhanded in its cynicism, but while the game sends up the consumption habits of the liberal professional class (a natural-foods store's motto is "Open up your mouth and look down on people"), the substantive policy targets lean conservative.

One of the more intriguing bits in the game, given Mr. Houser's personal history growing up in London, involves a pair of deluded anti-immigrant activists who set up a civil border patrol and stun-gun American mariachi performers. "I've been here 15 years and have an American passport but still feel like an immigrant, am an immigrant, always will be one," Mr. Houser said.

Another of the political provocations is a gruesome and unpleasant torture sequence — conducted by the player — that casts waterboarding and other violent methods as games played for the entertainment of the interrogator.

NEXT: Gunmen Kill Senior Police Officer in Egypt

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  1. Here is the new face of entertainment. A Hollywood movie would be happy to make that during its entire release, let alone on a single day.

    I think the record companies are already a thing of the past. I suspect the big movie studies are not going to be far behind.

    1. Games cost 60 bucks a piece. Remember that. Plus I think the market for games is limited in a way movies aren’t. There’s still the stigma of the basement dwelling loser attached to video games, and there will be for some time more. Plus COD has broken through to the mainstream the same way Madden has. Plenty of fratbrochill types own a console and only play Madden and COD.

      1. Add GTA to those two games.

      2. There doesn’t seem to be much of that stigma among the under 35 males I know. The guys I know that age at least are pretty open about their love of things like GTA and Madden and such.

        1. Yeah that’s what I’m saying. There are certain games which have broken through into mainstream pop culture. COD, Madden, GTA, FIFA are some examples. But the vast majority of games are still niche. The goal for game devs is to add their title to that list of titles that every dudebro with an Xbox owns.

      3. I guess my larger point is that there is nothing that says movies will remain our favorite form of entertainment forever. As video games get more and more advanced, the lure of movies is going to be less and less, especially those of the action variety.

        I wonder if maybe in 20 years big budget action movies will be something people in third world shitholes who can’t afford video games watch and our movie industry will consist of niche dramas and comedies and kid movies that don’t appeal to anyone between the ages of 12 and 30.

        1. Movies cost $15 and last 2 hours.
          Games cost $10-60 and often last for hundreds, possibly thousands, of play hours. Advantage: games

    1. Notice how the Dems are totally okay with banning or restricting video games but would have a stroke if someone wanted to do something to restrict violent movies. The SOCONS are at least consistent in that they would restrict both. But the Dems just have a hard on for video games. One would almost thing the Dem concern over video games is just a charade done in hopes of helping the film industry out or something.

      1. John the fact that there is a billion dollars to be made in one day has flagged this industry.
        There’s a shit ton of money going unextorted here. Threats of bans arejust a means of getting the contributions flowing into congress.

        1. “Nice little money-generating game ya got there…”

  2. Hah. My son was just crowing that this is the BEST GAME EVAR. He loves it.

    Amazing – make a great product that people like, and they will beat a path to your door and throw money at you.

    Then the bureaucrats and pols show up to get in on the action, and it’s all downhill from there.

    1. Yeah, when you entertain your customers rather than insult their intelligence, they actually give you their money. That is amazing.

      1. It’s like there’s an Invisible Hand guiding the actions of consumers and capitalists, leading the latter to produce things desired by the former so that…

        No, no – it couldn’t be that simple…

      2. The Obama video game; “Let’s Move”, Michelle shows up and nags your kids about drinking water, eating salad (without dressing) and doing pushups.
        For some reason nobody bought it.

        1. Plus, unlockable bonus content of the Barack : “I love broccoli” speech and an important message from the National Association of Green Grocers.

          1. Listen Leo, I pay off to you every month like a
            greengrocer–a lot more than the schmatta–and I’m
            sick of gettin’ the high hat!

        2. eating salad (without dressing)

          Nooooooo. Dressing aids in vitamin absorption. People using non-fat dressing or eating their salads dry are wasting their time. Also they use extra sugar to make non-fat food products edible.

          1. What? I eat dry salads all the time (because I dislike dressing).

            There’s a problem with that?

            What if I just have a snack of broccoli or carrots, which I also enjoy?

            1. A lot of vitamins are fat soluble.

              1. Ok. And there’s no fat to dissolve my salad vitamins unless I use dressing? (or follow my salad with a pork chop like I’m doing right now)

                1. follow my salad with a pork chop

                  Basically, yes, a porkchop with the meal should cover you for fat to help make those vitamins digestible. My worry is more for dieters who believe that fat=bad even though a little bit of flax or olive oil would be calorically negligible and would significantly increase their vitamin uptake.

            2. You don’t necessarily need dressing but some variety of saturated fat along with the veggies. Cheese or a fatty protein are good choices.

              1. What jesse and Lady B said. That reminds me, it’s time for my vitamin B and C pills, since I just had some popcorn chicken.

        3. Wookieist.

        4. Yep. An average day for my sons this summer involved inviting friends over to swim, BBQ, ride bikes, and play Halo. Exercise, food, and entertainment all supervised by mom. Michelle Obama wasn’t invited.

      3. But, John, where’s the positive message and moral uplift?

        /fundie or proggie

        Giv’em time. Eventually they’ll reduce GTA to a single mom who steals rich people’s cars to donate to the local women’s shelter in the name of social justice.

        1. THIS

          The progs will destroy this by making it into a political polemic just like they have destroyed the movies.

        2. Eventually they’ll reduce GTA to a single mom who steals rich people’s cars to donate to the local women’s shelter in the name of social justice.

          Wait, would you not play that game? In the right hands that premise could be a masterpiece, and by the right hands I mean SugarFree needs to script it.

          1. I like that idea Jesse. How about you make a game about being poor in America? It could involve scaming welfare, getting pregnant to get more welfare, working as a stripper or hooker or tranny prostitute and such. I bet it would be a hit if you did it right.

            1. Isn’t this basically what The Sims is?

              1. I don’t know. I have never played the Sims. I always thought the Sims was about suburban white people. I didn’t know there were ghetto sims.

                1. The Sims is about trapping people in pools with no ladders and rooms without doors and watching them die.

                  1. I thought it was about making gay/bisexual/polyamorous/incestuious sims?

                2. Oh and you can also do this in The Sims.

            2. Everyone I know who works in game development is a liberal except for my roommate (Walter Block was her favorite professor), but she’s in network ops and not on the design side. I have neither the artistic ability, nor the technical skill to design a game.

              It could involve scaming welfare, getting pregnant to get more welfare, working as a stripper or hooker or tranny prostitute and such.

              Hitting a little close to my childhood family situation there, John.

              1. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with that Jesse.

          2. In the right hands that premise could be a masterpiece, and by the right hands I mean SugarFree needs to script it.

            Ratchet and Skank

          3. Now, jesse, half the fun in GTA is beating the hell out of hookers with a baseball bat. Well, that and stealing cop cars.

            1. That’s why our protagonist is a Womyn’s studies major whose education grant was cut by evil Rethuglicans. She HATES hookers because they’ve sold themselves to the patriarchy. You also get to drive pins through condoms to punish folks who think they can have consequence free sex.

    2. Yeah? And is your son 17 as MANDATED by teh ESRB?!? Don’t tell me he’s not, Almanian, don’t tell me that.

      1. The ESRB is a voluntary industry board, and it’s ratings do not carry force. It is up to the parent to make the final decisions.

        1. Sarcasm aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of federal video game ratings enforcer pop up with the warboner these progs have for violent video games.

  3. I don’t understand why it cost so much to market. All I need to know is that it is out. You don’t need to convince me to buy it.

  4. $800M despite a lack of positive female characters. How dare they! As a society we should realize the problem for what it is: 800,000,000 patriarchies were spent on a rapegame.

    1. And it doesn’t even try to market itself towards women, who are like 60% of the game playing public.

      1. Because Farmville and GTA V are basically the same game.

        1. Ohhhhh, SNAP!

        2. Can you make a household and farm cabbages in GTA V?

          1. If by “farm cabbages” you mean “keep your victims’ heads alive in solution” and by “household” you mean “in your mom’s basement”, that’s coming in “GTA VI – Warty’s Revenge”,

          2. No, but you can in Skyrim.

            1. That…that was the joke. Does no one get me?

              1. No, we don’t.

                1. You don’t really “get” Epi, it is more like you “contract” Epi, in the monkey herpes sense of the word.

              2. No.

              3. I got you.

                There’s nothing wrong with cabbage farming.

                Or with spreading the love of Mara.

                1. Or with spreading the love of Mara

                  That was seriously the best quest ever

            2. Hearthfire sucks

              1. What I was really expecting was to be able to convince whichever side I’d put in power to make me Jarl of one of the holds. It’s the least I was owed after doing all of the work for them.

                Having an inaccessable plot with no one to lord over isn’t a suitable consolation prize.

                1. Yeah, if you can become head of the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, and College of Winterhold — and, err, be a fucking bard but not sing or play instruments — it seems like they should throw you a Jarlship. Or at least let you marry Queen Elsif.

                  1. Oh, and head of the Companions. And whatever you get in Dawnguard. I didn’t finish.

                    1. Randomly attacked by members of the faction you didn’t join (either vampires or hunters)

                      There was no real prize unless you count leechdom for being part of the vampire faction.

                    2. They should have pared it down to just a crossbow DLC and charged $2 for it. Maybe throw in spears too.

                    3. I think the modding community made working spears for them instead. Sort of undercut the market for that.

                    4. Last I heard all the spear mods sucked and were still just melee weapons. That may have changed since Dragonborn, though, if somebody figured out how to build off of the Rieklings.

            3. The “riding dragons” aspect in the dragonborn dlc was a steaming heap of fail.

    2. I think you can actually play as a girl in the new Call of Duty.

  5. I haven’t decided if I’m buying this yet. GTA IV was so boring – just a huge empty city to drive around filled with buildings that you couldn’t go into.

    1. I have never played GTA. Is it that great? What is the big deal about it?

      1. The games are well-paced, beautifully designed open world shooting/driving games. They’re basically the best at what they do, though Saint’s Row offers a more cartoony version of the same thing.

        GTA IV was basically a beautiful version of GTA III. I thought San Andreas was the peak of gameplay (Before GTA V) and Vice City was the peak of style.

    2. I don’t care for the series either. I like games with more structure, more looting and RPG elements.

      1. Like…like Borderlands 2?

        1. Exactly. Or even the more free-form Fallout and Elder Scrolls.

          1. I always find I lose interest in open world games after a while. Tell me a story where I have some wiggle room to make decisions and I’m happy. The Mass Effect series is a good example.

            1. Non-sports mass market games do seem to be diverging into two main types, open world and a pre-determined world which is basically playing a movie (COD, Gears of War, Bulletstorm). With a few hybrids like Mass Effect.

            2. The story in the new GTA is actually quite strong. It’s a really effective balance of open world, free form stuff to do and character-driven narrative.

              1. Did they get rid of the codependency in the ‘friends’ from IV?

              2. How many hours of gameplay is it though? I have just enough OCD to be a completionist, which is partly why I grow to resent open world games after about 20 hours of play.

                NO I DO NOT WANT TO RESCUE YOUR CAT FROM A TREE…wait, no I just did, here is your cat that I had to cross the entire map to find.

            3. Mass Effect 1 & 2 were nearly perfect games. Mass Effect 3 drifted way too far from open world exploration.

              1. Mass Effect 1 & 2 were nearly perfect games. Mass Effect 3 drifted way too far from open world exploration.

                I agree that ME3 needed some more open world stuff (I just radar down to save the Elcor living tank? Way to rob us of the coolest short mission ever, BioWare) but they’re not perfect. ME1’s combat sucked, and ME2, while loads of fun, had a storyline that was ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of the game universe.

                ME3 was 95% perfect but then they completely screwed up the ending (which really should have been the beginning of the finale instead of the conclusion), and that lack of strategy retroactively makes everything you did in 1 & 2 pointless. Seriously, why did I spend so much time solving everyone’s daddy issues and stopping the collectors?

                A year and a half later and I’m still insanely bitter over how ME3 finished. Fuck you, EA.

            4. I like story where it is done well (Dishonored, Deus Ex, NOLF), but I can’t get into many games where you are on a short lease being constantly prompted to take a certain action (which is one reason I detest the Guardian Angel in Borderlands) and the little I played of Mass Effect had that in abundance. Stop telling me what to do and when to do it! I didn’t buy this product to be bossed around, sheez.

              However, Drew Karpyshyn, who wrote for ME is a talented guy. I like what he did with Jedi Academy and Knights of the Old Republic, adding a Randian twist to the old Force concept out of boredom with Lucas’ simple formula for it. So, I wished I could get over my hangup with authority to be able to enjoy it more, but I don’t want to be anyone’s space marine million dollar baby.

              1. Dishonored was excellent, as was the original Deus Ex. I want to slap, repeatedly with a machete*, whoever was responsible for the end choices in every other Deus Ex game. In fact, they should just update the graphics on the original Deus Ex and re-release it every 10 years. I would play the hell out of it.

                *Dear NSA overlords, this is hyperbole, please don’t send men to harass me.

                1. I’m not sure if my criticism is fair to ME as a whole or just the section I played. But I was definitely being bossed around during an alien invasion, and I didn’t like that shit at all.

                  It is one thing to be assigned to a mission while being able to decide how to approach it, but being drilled through an obstacle course is a common trait of games that appeal to the lowest common denominator and insult the intelligence of anyone who isn’t LCD.

                  Crysis was the absolute worst in this respect.

                  1. Did you play the first one or just ME3? The series went from “RPG” to “Action-RPG” to “Action with RPG elements”; you’d probably be happier with the earlier entries in the series when you weren’t just the lead dog for the Galactic UN’s invasion response unit.

                    The games were fun, the story was mostly great, and the universe was well fleshed out but the series as a whole does suffer from being a bit too linear and from a lack of stuff to do once you finish the main story (their fix for this in ME3: ZOMG MUTIPLAYAR!). A sandbox pre/sequel or MMO would probably be awesome, but I don’t see it happening; BioWare has its MMO and I think they like control too much to go all Bethesda with a flagship product.

            5. I’m the opposite. I lose interest in the main plots and love following the side quests and just wandering and fucking around. Fallout New Vegas is great for that, not least because of the awesome visuals.

              I tried playing Borderlands 2 but the game is like the 19th century: all railroads.

              1. Same. I stalled several times during the questline for RDR and just went around murdering people. My brother actually got pissed and played some of the quests for me.

        2. Like…like Borderlands 2?

          Speaking of Borderlands, not 2, the first one. I started over again a couple of weeks ago and now I am level 26, the farthest I have ever been in the game.

          The frustrating thing is that now I cannot find any better weapons. I find tons of weapons, but none of them are as good as the ones I have had since level 20.

          1. I had a period of a few days like that once. Check into the machine vendor periodically, there is a percentage gauge that randomly comes up designed towards checking your current hardware and improving upon it.

  6. I don’t own a copy – because I can’t afford the giant time loss that would be associated with it. Looking up and going “Whoah, it’s 3am?” isn’t good for someone who has to get to work a few hours afterwards.

    1. Getting married really ended my game playing career. The wife is pretty tolerant. But not so tolerant I can disappear into the attic for days at a time.

      1. Sounds like you have the misfortune of having one of those ‘healthy marriages’ I keep hearing about. If she had the proper contempt that familiarity brings to most relationships, she would encourage your gaming habit to keep you out of her hair.

        1. Yeah. There are drawbacks to your wife actually liking your company. You think I kid. But as a bit of an introvert and someone who likes to read, play war games and generally be left alone to relax, my wife liking my company is not always a feature.

          1. Did someone say war games? Maybe you aren’t all bad despite your love of the Skankees.

  7. I played one of the GTA’s with my son briefly. I just remember he turned and set me on fire with a flamethrower after we killed a bunch of people….and we laaaaaaaaaaaaaaughed and laughed.

    Good times.

    Never played again. I find all of these games utterly boring.

    Now, a brisk session of “Risk” or “Monotony” on the other hand….

    /getoffmylawn!!

  8. REASON I STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO RESCIND MR. SUDERMAN’S SECURITY CLEARANCE AND CHANGE THE LOCKS.

    1. It’s OK – the calls are coming from inside Peter’s head….WAIT!!! WHAT?!

  9. I defy anyone to find a non sexy angle to view this woman, there is none.

    http://goo.gl/2rkMwh

    1. 41, eh? I can work with that.

    2. crap, are bell bottom pants coming back? The horror.

  10. GTA 5 Review: So Realistic It’s Boring

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPYmvOOVclQ

    1. Seriously, if you wanna good laugh, click that link.

      1. Not realistic. Nelson wasn’t euthanized by a SWAT team.

        1. Now, could even a SWAT team look into those big eyes . . . and see anything but venison, yeah, you’re right.

  11. My wife and I have seen commercial after commercial about this (ok, I admit it, we watch a lot of pro football). Her comment: “This is the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever seen, and if it ends up being successful, that’s just one more sign that we’ve gotten to Idiocracy a few hundred years early.”

    1. “Get off my lawn”

    2. Why is this dumb but watching grown men in spandex chase a ball around isn’t?

      1. Because they’re real human beings doing real activities?

        1. They’re playing a children’s game.

          1. Getting slammed full tilt by a 300 pound Olympic-grade athlete is not common among children.

            1. I don’t see many 300 pound children who count as athletic.

              1. That’s my point.

                1. I don’t get it.

                  1. “Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”

                    1. Only you haven’t made an argument, or a point.

                    2. Proved my point once again. I’d give you a hat tip if I had a hat.

        2. From your perspective, they’re no more real than the video game characters. You’re sitting there watching a TV screen, just like me.

          1. I can say the same thing about Obama.

        3. doing real activities

          They’re playing True Scotsman Football?

    3. Funny, I haven’t seen a single advert. I only heard it was coming out when a news article said Amazon mistakenly shipped a few early.

    4. Your wife is Tipper Gore?

      1. My wife is that rarest and most cherished of species: a female libertarian.

        1. Where did you find this creature?

          1. Mail order.

            1. I had to build mine out of fire and metal like Hephaestus.

              1. But does she swallow?

                1. And yes, I know there’s a joke in there about Pandora’s box.

  12. Wait… but, but… I thought that everyone was going to turn in all of their violent video games, now, and only play cute little games with ponies and talking unicorns?

    So, what are they doing buying 800 million dollars worth of violent games in one day? I’m shocked by this, shocked I tell you!

  13. Get me a videogame where I can kill unicorns, Teletubbies, and Barney.

    1. I’m sure there’s a mod for the PC version of GTA IV where this is not just possible but encouraged.

      1. Are you a Brony?

        1. Are you a Brony?

          WTF? No, I only mentioned that because I thought you’d be entertained by the blend of cutesy with wanton violence per your “Get me a videogame where I can kill unicorns, Teletubbies, and Barney.”

          1. No, I want to kill every creature that my little one watched over and over and over and over and over.

            If I were to design a video game, it would be a POV shooter where you have a Mannlicher Carcano, and were looking out the window of a book depository in Dallas as the presidential motorcade drives by. You have 8 seconds to get off three shots,

            1. I take it you haven’t played JFK Reloaded then? It’s free.

              1. It apparently offended the perpetual whiners at Slate, so it’s got that goin’ for it.

                Pretty much what I had in mind except that I’d want to be scored on the quality and quantity of kill shots, not how close I come to the Warren Commission. Visualize, if you will, that pink pillbox hat being shot off right after a JFL and John Connally takedown. Epic!

                1. JFK. Jesus, I type badly.

                2. When I went looking for it I was surprised that Stormfront was a top search result. The other day when I went looking for information on my somewhat obscure mitochondrial DNA, stormfront was also a top result on google. I’m getting concerned that the internet is trying to tell me something.

                  1. I now have a mental image of a mincing Nazi, but I know that’s horribly unfair. My apologies for even *thinking* that.

                    1. mincing Nazi

                      You mean the Nazis themselves weren’t already a bit “mincing”? The films of thousands of fit young men with defined cheekbones, tight black clothing, and leather boots had me going.

                    2. Now I have the song Springtime for Hitler stuck in my head.

  14. GTA IV infuriated me because *after* I plunked down the money, *after* I spent hours downloading and installing Games for Windows (required!), *after* I waited more hours for the damn updates to download and install (second evening of installation), and *after* I watched the Intro video, I found out that the FUCKING CONTROLS WEREN’T CUSTOMIZABLE for proper mouse/keyboard use.

    I never played the game after the first five minutes of haveing to pretend my keyboard and mouse were a fucking XBox controller.

    I will not touch GTA V until I am convinced they have not repeated this grave mistake.

    GTA San Andreas and GTA Vice City were awesome though.

    1. Or you could just get it for console?

      LET THE FLAME WAR BEGIN.

  15. Who is paying for games?
    Nobody I know “bought” the game.

  16. I’m not sure there’s a political agenda to be found in the game so much as a gleeful universal cynicism about just about everything

    Isn’t that leftwing code for “We need the Right TOP MEN to get stuff done”? Oh wait this is Suderman…

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