On the 17th of September 2013, Grand Theft Auto V, the latest installment in Rockstar's popular franchise, was released following years of rumors and months of hype. The game was predicted to be a massive success but blew away all expectations immediately. Now on it's fourth anniversary, let's look back at some of the most momentous events that have happened since then.
Day One - The Records Break
The influx of immense amounts of data from around the world resulted in varying estimates, but GTA 5 broke records even within hours of launch. The game's budget was over $265 million. A massive marketing campaign that plastered buildings and trams worldwide with posters preceded launch, and in the weeks leading up to release day almost every website even remotely related to video games ran GTA ads.
Prior to launch, analysts had predicted that the game would do really well, but no one expected this measure of success. To this day, the game keeps selling, and people keep dissecting how it became such a massive phenomenon - a topic we've touched upon plenty of times as well.
Launch day wasn't the only one with massive numbers. The game brought in over $1 billion in profits just 3 days after launch and over 11 million copies were sold within 24 hours of release.
October - Online Goes Live
Less than a month after the game was released, the accompanying multiplayer mode, GTA Online, was also launched. Players could customize their characters and play together with others in the same virtual rendition of Los Santos and Blaine County. Various mission types were available, as well as a range of vehicles. Light RPG elements were included via a leveling system which progressively unlocked weapons.
At this point, GTA Online was vastly different from what it is today. No businesses, no heists, no insane stunt racing. It had some randomly occurring events in Freemode as well as a handful of multiplayer modes like Deathmatch. At this point, Shark Cards were known as Maze Bank cash cards.
Also in October, the sales figures for GTA 4 broke the 30 million mark, exceeding the lifetime sales of GTA IV.
November - The First DLC
November of the game's launch year saw the release of GTA Online's very first DLC. The Beach Bum update was relatively threadbare compared to the massive updates like Smuggler's Run that we get these days. The update contained clothing options, two weapons and four vehicles total.
Post-launch discussions with the developers revealed that Rockstar had little faith that GTA Online would be anything more than a niche afterthought of a multiplayer mode with little success. They couldn't have been more wrong with over $1 billion in profits derived from Shark Cards alone, consistent multi-million player counts and still-increasing sales figures.
March, 2015 - Heists Is Released
Heists is still one of the biggest, and without a doubt the most influential, of GTA Online's DLCs. Heists was marketed since before the game's launch as the main attraction in the multiplayer mode, and it took Rockstar a long time to perfect them - however the end result was worth the wait.
Heists introduced some of the most interesting missions, with the titular heists themselves being challenging multi-mission campaigns comparable to raids in other MMOs. To this day they are a popular method of grinding in-game cash and achieving the Criminal Mastermind challenge of completing all of them, in sequence, without any deaths still earns players bragging rights.
Oddly enough, Rockstar never added further heists to the game beyond the five this update contained.
September 2015 - Out with the Old
September saw the release of the Freemode Events update, which refreshed the palette of randomly spawning mini-missions while playing in Freemode. More importantly, this was the first update which wasn't released on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, instead only launching on the current generation of consoles and PC. This marked a turning point, and no further content would be released on the older consoles.
October 2016 - The Great Demoneying
After a long and strained struggle against hackers in the game, Rockstar temporarily managed to clean things up in late 2016. Today, the game is once again somewhat vulnerable to hackers, and plenty of unseemly folk turn up in public lobbies, but things aren't nearly as bad as they were in late 2015 and early 2016 when the situation was at its worst.
In October 2016, Rockstar implemented a new system which would detect illegitimately acquired cash, such as money received from hackers or earned through duplication exploits, and delete that balance. Some players saw "corrections" which removed billions of hacked GTA$.
May 2017 - The 80 Million Milestone
In May 2017, Grand Theft Auto 5 crossed the milestone of having shipped 80 million copies worldwide, not counting digital sales. By this point, it had become the best-selling non-bundled video game of all time. GTA Online is considered one of the biggest influencers of this achievement, which is a notable upgrade from the minor feature the developers expected it to be.
GTA 5 and Online have eventful, colorful histories full of DLC, mods, controversies, sales figures, etc. and we've been here, covering all of it from the start. From fan-made videos through contribution to guides all the way to fantastic Snapmatic creations, all of you, the players, have formed an integral part of that history. GTA Online, moreso than V, wouldn't be what it is today without the fans.
On this fourth anniversary of GTA V, it's a great chance to think back and reminisce about the fun times you've had with your buddies on the rough virtual streets of Los Santos. What are your favorite memories related to GTA 5 and Online?