Video game sales charts are fickle things. They try to incorporate as much sales data as possible, and as such, are quite dynamic and volatile. Seeing as we’ve spoke of GTA 5’s success on many occasions, the fact that the game was once present on such a chart should come as no surprise. However, it appearing on said chart three years after launch is quite a feat.
Back upon launch in 2013, Rockstar’s massive hit reigned supreme at the top of the UK charts for a week before FIFA 14 came and knocked GTA V down to place #2. The game clawed its way back to the top of the same charts a good year and 6 months later, around the time pre-orders for the PC version spiked in anticipation for the April release.
However once again, three years since the game’s initial release, GTA 5 has crept to the top of the charts. The previous title holder, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens has slipped from first all the way to third, with PS4 exclusive Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End at second. The staggered release of the various platform ports greatly contributed to the long-lived success of the game.
Could Cunning Stunts have had such a big effect as to propel the game back to the top of the charts, or is a Biker themed DLC so hotly anticipated that even an unconfirmed leak was enough to spur this many people to buy the game?
The longevity of GTA V has been a hotly discussed topic by industry analysts. Massive AAA hits aren’t exactly a rarity, with popular franchises such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, one-off hits like Skyrim (put the pitchforks away – the Elder Scrolls series is popular among hardcore games, yes, but Skyrim was the only installment to achieve real mainstream success) or many sports games hitting sales figures in the multi-millions.
However GTA V has broken pretty much every record there is. It sold the most copies the quickest. The game broke the 65 million mark in terms of copies sold two months ago. Online has more unique log-ins every week than the population of Hungary, and this is a three year old game. Sales rates aren’t dropping, microtransaction revenue is leading the industry and press coverage rivals new releases.
There are quite a few ingredients to the success of the game beyond the simple ones such as quality, amount of content and critical acclaim. GTA is one of those few video game franchises the name of which is known off-hand by non-gamers. This is one of the most adopted mainstream game series, as it has achieved considerable popularity with the casual and even “non-gamer” (if you only buy 1-2 games a year and always stick to the same franchises, technically you don’t qualify as a “gamer”) groups.
Even so, the success of the game outstripped that of Call of Duty and its ilk. The reason for this is that Rockstar opted to avoid an annual release schedule, and currently there really aren’t any alternatives to GTA Online. People who didn’t buy GTA V in its first year didn’t have a new game to jump into the next.
As such, while CoD players skipping a year will be adding sales numbers to the next game, GTA 5 has been accumulating sales for three years now. With no new installment and no real popular clones around, everyone turned to this game to scratch their “open-world car-focused crime game” itch.
We ran a longer article on why the upcoming Mafia III, which is very similar to the GTA franchise, won’t be hurting Online in terms of players or revenue. While many of the points in that article are specifically related to the case of these two concrete games, many principles seen in it apply to the big picture.
Take-Two is preventing Mafia III from becoming a competitor, yes, but the fact that no-one else is making a competitor contributes to this newest milestone. GTA V has held the number one position on the UK game sales charts for its ninth week now, cumulative since launch. Few games, even heavy hitters, achieve that kind of success.
Have any of you only bought GTA 5 recently? Is it your first time, or did you upgrade?