Take-Two Interactive just released its latest earnings report for the second quarter of fiscal 2018, the obvious highlight (for us at least) being yet another sales milestone smashed by Grand Theft Auto 5.
Over 85 million copies of GTA 5 have now been sold worldwide, meaning 5 million copies have been sold over the course of the last six months (the 80 million mark was hit in June). For a four-year-old game, those numbers are staggering and many high-profile new releases hope for numbers like that.
85 million, however, isn't just another milestone in a long list of milestones.
At this rate, 90 will be no problem, and we'd be very surprised if 100 million wasn't achieved before sales began to wane. 85 million is special because, for all intents and purposes, GTA 5 is now the best selling video game of all time, a step-up from its previous position of being the best selling non-bundled video game of all time.
This achievement was a long time coming and actually getting here stopped being a question of "if" and became a question of "when" some time ago considering the rate of the game's sales. GTA 5 broke convention in many ways, such as showing an increase in sales during the past two years as opposed to a decline which would be more normal considering usual trends.
It would be interesting to see a breakdown of sales per platform however Take-Two hasn't shared anything of the like. We do know that PC sales account for only a relatively small percentage. 8.7 million copies of the game were sold via Steam, however even this isn't a proper metric as copies bought physically or through the Rockstar Warehouse are not accounted for. Nonetheless, the console releases seem to make up the bulk of the sales.
In the past, the topic of why GTA 5 is so successful was one we covered often. But recently it stopped being such a prominent conversation piece since most of our readers likely knew the story by heart - but for any newcomers, both to the site and to GTA 5, here's a short recap: The reasons for the game's continued success rely on a number of beneficial factors converging in Rockstar's favor.
First, the game was released during the turn of the console generation, but ever so slightly prior to it. The game was initially launched on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms. Versions for the current gen consoles weren't officially announced at the time, so everyone interested in the game bought it then.
Later, the games got enhanced editions released for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Not only did this mean a whole new audience bought it, but a surprisingly high percentage of existing players upgraded to the new versions. Seeing the success of this staggered release, the game was launched on PC yet another year later, once again attracting new players as well as getting existing players to upgrade.
This schedule meant that the game was essentially "upcoming" for 3 years, while also enjoying the huge spike in sales right after launch three times instead of one. Hype was being constantly generated with the impending release of each version, and the game stayed in the news increasing publicity.
But where do all those buyers come from in the first place? GTA has a decade's worth of fame to capitalize on, and is one of the best-known game properties out there. The mainstream entertainment consumer makes up the bulk of Grand Theft Auto's audience, and pretty much everyone with a console ended up buying GTA 5.
It's continued success now, beyond the third and latest PC release, can be attributed to GTA Online. The constant stream of free DLC has ensured that the title is constantly referred to by the gaming press and when you've got tens of millions of players, the word-of-mouth effect will snowball the customer base even higher.
Everyone's playing GTA 5 because everyone's playing GTA 5.
2017 was an extremely successful year for Take-Two and the GTA franchise in terms of finances, considering December 2016 was cited as the game's busiest month, and since then all reports indicated an increase in popularity, sales and activity. Soon a new year will roll around and we don't doubt it will be similarly successful for GTA 5.