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Blood Money: The Best-Selling Grand Theft Auto Games

Blood Money: The Best-Selling Grand Theft Auto Games

Crime may not pay but boy howdy Grand Theft Auto does. The infamous franchise’s nearly three-decade run doesn’t necessarily need to be measured in financial means. Its indelible mark on popular culture and status as an industry-wide paradigm shift should be enough. But numbers speak louder than anecdotes and Grand Theft Auto can put its money where its mouth is.

Throughout its evolution from cult-classic top-down faux arcade-style mayhem to its current status as the benchmark for story-driven 3D adventure, it has continually broken barriers. Sales milestone after sales milestone, the world seems to agree that Grand Theft Auto, in all its violent, juvenile glory, is better than most other media. Even the most engrossing television shows of the time couldn’t hold a candle to the vibrant, R-rated intricacies of the PS2-era games. This wasn’t just a game, it was a copy of Scarface you could experience from the inside. You have control in a word of clever narrative and thoughtfully curated experience. Each new installment didn’t just push the envelope, it redefined it.

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As word of mouth became word of law, more and more people flocked to the series. It’s difficult in most media to keep relevance and strong sales numbers, especially in the gaming world. Grand Theft Auto bucks that idea entirely with its unending breadth of content and staggering sales figures.

5. Grand Theft Auto III (2002): 14.5 Million

Grand Theft Auto III, trailblazing in its design and influence, stands as a testament to the series’ growth. The jump to the – now franchise standard – third-person riot simulator drew in legions of new fans. Clocking in at 14.5 million copies, it may have been the more modest seller among its – 3D – mainline brethren. But this was the game that paved the streets of Liberty City with golden potential. GTA III‘s – humbler by later standards – sales marked the beginning of a behemoth, setting the stage for the record-breaking titans that would follow.

Meta Quest 3 128GB - Asgard’s Wrath 2 Bundle
  • 2x the graphic processing power of Quest 2 with the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2
  • Mixed reality blends virtual elements and physical space
  • 4K+ Infinite display
  • 3D audio with enhanced clarity and bass
  • Touch Plus controllers deliver a more intuitive experience
  • Library of over 500 titles
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2003): 17.5 Million

Released at a time when video games were finally being taken seriously in popular culture, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was part of a greater paradigm shift and its sales showed. With 17.5 million copies sold, it dwarfed the numbers that other beloved highlights of the era (i.e. Metroid Prime) put on the board. Its innovative gameplay and endlessly cool neon aesthetic pushed it far to be of the type five best-selling games for the PlayStation 2.

3. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008): 25 Million

Moving a respectable 25 million copies, Grand Theft Auto IV made a significant impact in its time. A shift from the bright streets and sprawl of Los Santos, Grand Theft Auto IV ventures deeper into the realm of narrative complexity and world-building. The newly resigned Liberty City felt more grounded and frightening. However, despite its advancements and acclaim, it didn’t quite eclipse the sales surge of its predecessor, underscoring the challenge of continually raising the bar in such a monumental series.

2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004): 27.5 Million

The John-Singleton-goes-full-Scorsese world of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas managed to move a staggering 27.5 million copies, making it the best-selling game on the PlayStation 2. While the GTA series was already known for pushing boundaries, San Andreas took things up several notches with the unprecedented (well, outside of player-driven RPGs, anyway) customization of its main character and a world three times in size of its predecessor. Its record-breaking sales were a testament not only to its unique charm but also to its influence on shaping the greater expectations of future ventures in sandbox / open-world gaming.

1. Grand Theft Auto V (2013): 185 Million

185. Million. Units. Sold. Once again set in the violent L.A. analog of Los Santos, Grand Theft Auto V managed to claw its way not only to the best sales in the franchise but to the ranks of the best-selling games of all time (third behind Tetris and Minecraft, respectively). The mix of a comedic and intense three-person narrative worthy of a Netflix-style binge and the expansive, ever-evolving world of its online counterpart proved irresistible to players. The absurd sales figures echo the collective hours players poured into its world, shaping their own narratives, engaging in heists, and establishing criminal empires. In an industry defined by innovation and the perpetual quest for the next big thing, Grand Theft Auto V stands as both a testament to Rockstar’s visionary approach and the undying appeal of a well-crafted open world.

Meta Quest 3 128GB - Asgard’s Wrath 2 Bundle
  • 2x the graphic processing power of Quest 2 with the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2
  • Mixed reality blends virtual elements and physical space
  • 4K+ Infinite display
  • 3D audio with enhanced clarity and bass
  • Touch Plus controllers deliver a more intuitive experience
  • Library of over 500 titles
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
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