GTA 5: All Aboard the Hype Train

It all feels a little too familiar as we prepare for Rockstar’s next blockbuster opus.


So Grand Theft Auto V is a big deal. A really big deal. So big that the promos announcing the release of the second trailer are hyped to infinity, riding the awesome wave of Game Informer’s mega large cover story. You can now switch characters, rappel down buildings, pilot fighter jets and so much more – and everything is extra sparkly thanks to a new engine Rockstar is touting. They even expect the game to sell a whopping 25 million units in the first 12 months.

Think about that for a second. Sales are a tricky thing to track but if you take a closer look at such blockbuster titles as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or Halo Reach you’ll find they are come somewhat close in global sales or never see that figure in their first year. So Rockstar is essentially laying claim to something that’s never been done before, or that’s back by enough accurate data to prove that it has.

In between all this hype, something feels off.


When Rockstar was on a high, according to sales, critics and more than anything, according to gamers, was in the Grand Theft Auto III era. When the game came out, it was revolutionary. Sure there had been sandbox games before, but nothing quite on this scale or level of detail, and certainly not with this much content. The greatness continued with Vice City and reached a fever pitch with San Andreas, that was treated as the one true sequel, having been the largest and most feature-packed of the series.

Then Grand Theft Auto IV happened aka “The One Critics Got So Horribly Wrong It’s Not Even Funny”.

Now, GTA IV isn’t a terrible game. On the contrary, it brought the series into the next generation and featured quite a few interesting features that would become staples in other open world games, such as the mobile phone (as seen in Saint’s Row). It also upped the level of detail, creating an alternate New York City that mirrored the real one so very closely. The game was big, there was plenty to do, fun and laughs all around.


Only it wasn’t great. Or revolutionary. Or bug-free. Or dynamic or spontaneous. Like so many perfect reviews had claimed it to be.

Was it the hype that ultimately lead to GTA IV becoming one of the most infamous games of all time? Maybe the result of astronomical expectations from a market that was expecting the “next level” of GTA? Or was it all Rockstar’s fault – pimping a game they knew wasn’t perfect to the heavens, making a mint off gamers’ expectations, only fueled by a rabid media that had only hyped the game further by awarding it spotless reviews? Whatever may be the case, GTA IV sold well, as Game Informer recently reported, crossing 25 million copies sold since it’s release.

The conditions this time around seem to mirror GTA IV’s perfectly. People love it, hate it, want to know more, can’t get enough of it, can’t go anywhere without it being mentioned, and it’s still a good 5 months away from release. Let’s not even talk about the number of rumours that have been circulating around the game in the past, oh, 2 years or so. Are we just setting ourselves up for another disappointment? Because Grand Theft Auto IV may have been one of the first big blockbuster games, but GTA V is now one of many, that includes Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3, to say nothing of Halo 4. Dozens of sandbox games have come and gone, delivering their own take on the genre in millions of unique and interesting ways that many peopel admit is superior to GTA IV. Whether GTA V will be able to provide something new and interesting isn’t the question though. The question is: Can we expect Rockstar to do it competently this time?

Image Credit: GameInformer

It doesn’t really matter in terms of sales. There’ll be enough gamers lining up to buy the game, enough perfect scores magazines will be willing to deliver on a silver platter, and enough returns to fund the next decade of GTA. And if it doesn’t deliver up to the astronomical expectations that we’ve created for ourselves, then, well, there’s always the next one that we can count on to release long after the memory of GTA V subsides.

But let’s as least pretend we remember what happened last time, if only vaguely?


  • Anthony Jones

    Wow, excellent article. I hate saying that because I feel like it sounds patronizing because I’m not an experienced journalist or someone you should feel honored to hear that from… BUT I can say I have read tons of GTA V articles and they all say the same thing with this really biased “hyped” point of view. I like that you didn’t say it is going to ge bad or good, because you shouldn’t you haven’t played it. I absolutely agree with you on the GTA IV statement as well, GTA IV is one of the few games I find worth owning permanently but it is not “great, spontaneous, or bug free,” like you said. I have high expectations and will absolutely be buying V when it comes out, but because of you I’ll be that much more objective of previews and when I actually play the game.

  • chico3215

    I’ll probably wait a month after it comes out and buy it used, but its looking to be a pretty damn good game…

    • Saurabh

      Those people whose decisions to buy a game are based on reviews aren’t many and actually aren’t regular gamers….Now comparing gta to a call of duty game is insane…gta games are way better than any cod game..how way?..way way..!..The only reason call of duty made any sales record coz people were a little bored of gta 4 after playing it single player for two years or so…yeah you heard it..only after two to three freaking years…Then some people started to pin-point bad things about a 2 year old game…I mean come’on..! give gta 4 a break..!…
      Innovations are necessary in any field..I’m glad my favourite gaming company isn’t afraid of taking risks by introducing something new…
      To those cod fans good luck playing the same game over and over every year…If you want to know the real worth of a game…play it as single player then you’ll notice the difference between games with fresh ideas and games which are just to squeeze out money for the companies which make them…Think why did activision dropped the sleeping dogs project originally a part of true crime series…

    • Vlado-V

      COD sucks and you know it…and those who buy COD are just modern day gamers(graphics and non stop shooting is the way they want game to be)

    • Rockstar*

      You do know that after a month, neither buying it second hand or brand new, the prices are going to stay the same. Games especially like this will not drop in price until a year or so.

  • MarkOEstes

    In terms of “hype,” GTA IV delivered on all cylinders for me personally. The key word there being “personally.” A lot of gamers (as well as moviegoers, music lovers, and TV fans) bring personal hype upon themselves and point fingers when the thing they obsessed about for two years plus don’t pan out to their liking. The practically perfect reviews from the gaming media only told people what they liked and didn’t like about the game, not that a death sentence would be served if be reader didn’t go buy the game.

    I still get good replay value out of GTA IV and its DLC companions to this day, as well as the GTA III era games as well, so in my eyes, the misadventures of Niko Bellic made up for the 99 bucks I spent and then some. Again, the key thing being my personal enjoyment. Then again, I wasn’t looking for a GTA: San Andreas clone when I purchased GTA IV to begin with, so…

    • Vlado-V

      Same here man ! BUt a lot of people looking for GTA SA clone aka GTA5

  • vinzo

    Really bad article, talking up personal opinion as fact, and badly written to boot.

  • tony

    Awful, just plain awful. Why don’t you just play GTA 4 for a while, try to really get into the story, and then you come back here. I think it’s bad to take up your own opinion in articles like this. GTA 4 was, and is, great.

  • Alex

    GTA 4 was a let down following GTA: SA, because we expected so much. but in reality, GTA 4 should have performed better.

    i mean, they had the recipe and ingredients for an amazing 3 course gourmet meal (new consoles, bigger funds and more skills and ideas), and then made beans on toast. it really did feel like a step back (and i mean seemingly back beyond GTA: VC).

    i think GTA 5 will be spectacular, but are the fans ready to let go of the one thing that GTA has maintained as a center point sine the beginning? GTA is 1 character that seems like a thug and then we learn he’s not bad and then we grow a link with him on a more personal level, it is about the nitty-gritty down-to-earth crime and corruption that faces the protag on a second by second basis, and though those, we grow closer to them.
    i feel that the 3 protags, only worked in GTA: EFLC because they were never together for more than 1 or 2 cutscenes and i think a mission and you only played 1 per game, to play them all in 1 game (regardless of what people say, you will need to switch between them (because if you didn’t, R* would never have given you the option) and i don’t think that GTA fans are really going to like it. only the newcomers wouldn’t be to bothered with it. it will take some getting used to for those of us who have 3 – all of the games.

    i also think that GTA 5 sales will be much lower than expected. 10% will not bother with it for a while or get it 2nd hand, and about 30% wont get it because it wont be on PC, which means that they would have to get a PS 3 or an X-Box which is £200 or $300 (i think they’re the prices) and few will do that for 1 game.

  • http://twitter.com/iamdylanavery Dylan Avery

    Too many people went into GTA IV expecting San Andreas set in NYC. Rockstar has a very refined vision from Day 1, and they refuse to make the games that other people want. That’s what I respect about them, that’s why I love GTA IV and that’s why I know I’ll love GTA V.

    Expecting GTA IV to be what GTA V will be would have been like criticizing GTA III for not being enough like San Andreas … it takes time to develop things and get them to the level Rockstar is happy with.

  • The Yes Guy

    Who the Hell said GTA 4 was terrible?? It was AWESOME..!!

  • me

    lmao look at COD all the games are hyped up but then every one starts saying it sucks once they get it and little kids play COD hence the name Child Online Daycare. You just can’t compare GTA to COD its apples and oranges. On that note GTA V is looking real good and when something starts to get popular eveyone wants to know about it.

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