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Since its worldwide debut on Tuesday, Grand Theft Auto V has raked in a record-breaking $800 million in sales.
The highly anticipated Rockstar Games title is set in the city of Los Santos and includes a few Hollywood landmarks. In the game — which is estimated to take roughly 30 hours to complete — players can toggle between three major characters’ perspectives.
Below, THR offers a primer on what to expect from the blockbuster title.
1. It cost a lot to make.
Reports have pegged development costs for GTA V at around $115 million, potentially making it the most expensive video game yet made. Summer tentpole movies tread in this territory and beyond, of course (this summer’s Elysium and R.I.P.D. had comparable budgets to GTA V), but historically, blockbuster games have cost far less than their film brethren.
2. It cost even more to market.
Rockstar’s parent company Take Two reportedly outspent its production budget to get the word out. Its marketing campaign is estimated at $150 million.
3. It’s in no danger of flopping.
With 3.5 million preorders (each going for $60 a pop), GTA V made its development budget back before it even hit stores. Opening to very strong reviews, it’s gone on to rack up $800 million in sales in its first 24 hours on the market, dwarfing the biggest worldwide opening weekend ever for a film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which grossed $483 million and change).
4. It’s about 30 hours long (unless it takes you 20 … or 90).
The length of time it takes different players to complete open-world games can vary wildly depending on your skill. That said, anecdotal reports from those who have already finished the game are pegging a fast playthrough at somewhere between 20 and 30 hours. One masochist completed a 30-hour playthrough in 38 hours. We do not recommend this, but suffice to say that not only is there a lot of story here, but it takes place in a massive and detailed world that rewards aimless exploration. In terms of consumption time, it’s at least as long as two seasons of Breaking Bad, if not four.
5. It lets you play golf, invest in the stock market, go scuba diving, do yoga, see a shrink and take selfie photos.
The prostitutes and cop-killing get the headlines, but there’s plenty of wholesome activities too, if that’s your thing. Of course, you can also pull someone’s teeth out with pliers to get them to talk. Maybe that’s also your thing.
6. Its narrative structure will launch at least one doctoral thesis on textuality and authorial intent.
One of the unique and compelling aspects of video games as opposed to the media that have come before is that no two people have the same experience with it. This effect is amplified in GTA V, a game that allows you to switch between the three major characters’ perspectives at will. When you’re not “driving” a particular character, he goes on living his life, independent from you until you come back to him. It’s a high-wire feat of narrative daring that few have attempted and which hints at some of the new forms of storytelling this medium will produce. As a side note, It’s reassuring to see a game with this kind of avant-garde structure competing with (or besting) top-selling genre fare like the Madden and Call of Duty franchises.
7. It’s no longer the whipping boy for the collision of video games and popular culture.
A few years back, a GTA launch meant concerned moms picketing local GameStops, lawyers filing suits blaming it for violent crime and concerned hand-wringing on daytime talk shows and news channels. But though this installment still allows (indeed encourages) many of the same antisocial behaviors as the previous versions, the moral outrage has been muted. Is it possible that games have crossed the tipping point and can now be considered alongside other adult forms of entertainment such as R-rated films and novels that hinge on mature themes?
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