Yesterday, we reported that the Grand Theft Auto series had surpassed the 185 million units shipped mark, cementing its place as one of the most successful video franchises of all-time. But why is it so successful? Mainstream media and politicians would like us to believe that it is all because of the gratuitous sex and violence present in each entry of the series. We here at Stealthy Box don’t think it is so simple though. Sure, there are certainly a few people that buy each Grand Theft Auto for the sole purpose of running over and gunning down random pedestrians. Yet, that can’t be the case for most people, right?
Today, we discuss what we feel are the five biggest reasons for Grand Theft Auto’s long term success.
The Grand Theft Auto series wasn’t the first to “go off the rails” and present players with an open world to play with, but no series before it did it with such style. Even the original top-down action games felt like Rockstar sat down with us and said “You can go do this mission if you really want to, but there is this really cool thing you can check out over here too!” We weren’t constrained to going from Point A to Point B; missions could wait as we went off trying to outrun the cops, finding hidden collectibles, and causing general mayhem.
With so many semi-successful open world action games on the market now, listing “open world” as a prime reason for Grand Theft Auto’s success may seem strange to some. We argue that without Grand Theft Auto III on the PlayStation 2 and its massive open world, many of these titles would have never existed. Putting that disc in our PlayStation 2’s was like jumping into a giant sandbox and being told “Go… Have fun!” The amount of things we could do was neigh overwhelming. Want to do missions? Have fun. How about steal a cab and pick up a few fares? Sounds like a plan. Tired of being a criminal and want to try your hand as a vigilante? Hop into a police car (or better yet, a tank!) and give it a go.
To this day, variety and the ability to explore a massive world are still the cornerstones of the franchise. It is impossible to talk about Grand Theft Auto without immediately thinking about open world, sandbox gaming.