The Grand Theft Auto franchise, created by Rockstar Games, has become the revolutionary video game of our time. Even more than that, starting with GTA III’s open-world play, the franchise has become one of the preeminent entertainment revolutions of our time.
The games are known for their ever-expanding worlds, violence, sex, mature situations, car chases, storylines, and so much more that appeal to the monolithic 18-25 age group demographic. Even more than the violence and brutality, the games are renowned for all of the many side-quests and things you can do: the games are basically like SIMs on crack.
Every release gets bigger and bigger, and with Rockstar’s growth has come huge controversies, lawsuits, and backlashes. There are many people who wish the games would just disappear, but video games are a hugely lucrative business, so that’s obviously not going to happen. There are some things about the games that only the most diehard fans know about. Here’s a list of 12 of the things about the Grand Theft Auto franchise that you might not know.
12. Numerous Expensive Lawsuits
Because of its controversial nature, and because the franchise often blurs the lines between real-life parody and literary fabrication, Rockstar has been at the business end of many, many lawsuits, from ordinary citizens to celebrities alike. In all, Rockstar has been sued for nearly $1 billion.
Lawyer Jack Thompson is commonly the inquisitor of such lawsuits, having put together numerous cases for families whose loved ones have been killed by video-gamers. He has called GTA a “cop-killing simulator,” and launched a 2003 lawsuit against Rockstar for $246 million. Lindsay Lohan has also sued the company over the character of Lacey Jonas, an anorexic actress who Lohan thought resembled her likeness, but her claim was unfounded.
11. Interesting Voice Acting Preparations
It’s no secret that actors will go through huge changes – such as gaining or losing weight for their roles, or staying in character on and off the camera – before filming a show or movie. But you typically don’t hear about that same commitment to preparation for voice actors.
Well, Steven Ogg, who voices the homicidal maniac named Trevor in GTA V, would often record in his underwear to get into character. Similarly, Ned Luke, who voices Michael in GTA V, actually gained 25 pounds before voicing the character.
10. GTA III Changes Due to 9/11
Many mediums of entertainment, including films, TV shows, and video games, were affected and changed after 9/11. GTA III was one of the most publicized because of its huge anticipation. The game was delayed for over a month because of 9/11, to make last minute changes.
Some of those changes include changing the paint scheme of the police so they didn’t resemble NYPD cars or officers (the city in the game is loosely based on New York City), and removing a mission which referenced terrorists from the game. They also made some minor changes, such as removing some lines from pedestrians and talk radio, as well as altering the flight path of an AI plane that went near skyscrapers.
9. Characters from GTA: San Andreas Based on Real Rappers
OG Loc, a character from GTA: San Andreas, was actually a satire of real-life rapper Ja Rule. Besides sharing the same first name (Jeffrey), OG Loc steals lyrics from another character, Madd Dogg, which alludes to Ja Rule copying music from DMX and Tupac. Another character from the game, Ryder, resembles legendary N.W.A rapper Eazy-E, whose music is also featured in the game.
8. GTA IV Protagonist Based on Movie Character
The main character of GTA IV, named Niko Bellic, was not an entirely unique character. In fact, he was inspired by and strongly resembles the henchman character of Sasha from 2001’s Behind Enemy Lines, who was played by Vladimir Mashkov.
Mashkov was invited to voice the role of Niko in the game, but he turned it down (in hindsight, he’s probably kicking himself, since the game went on to make $500 million in sales). It’s no secret that the franchise has often incorporated pop culture into its games, such as in GTA: Vice City, where the Havana clothes look remarkably similar to the clothes worn by an extra in the first episode of 1984’s hit TV show, Miami Vice.
7. GTA Making Fun of Competitors
Besides borrowing heavily from pop culture, the Grand Theft Auto franchise also has a track record of talking trash and making fun of its competitors, usually in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. GTA: San Andreas, for instance, has a billboard in the game that reads “True Grime,” and has a picture of a garbage truck, poking fun at Activision’s True Crime game.
GTA III trashes Driver, another game with a similar format, by making fun of Driver’s main character, Tanner. In GTA III, there’s a mission called “Two Faced Tanner,” where the player must kill a Tanner doppleganger who struts around like a female. There were rumors that GTA IV was going to include Hillary Clinton on its attack list, in which she’d have been portrayed as a prostitute who asks, “Will you still vote for me?” after having sex with characters, but that never became reality.
6. GTA V’s Huge Script
GTA V is considered one of the most ambitious video game releases of all time, sporting over 400 missions (including an impressive 200 or so side-missions), and an unprecedented script that was nearly 3,500 pages long, and had almost 160,000 lines of dialogue. GTA IV, by comparison, had about half the amount of dialogue lines. Another interesting tidbit, is that GTA V includes nearly 1,000 usages of the ‘F’ and ‘C’ words.
5. Numerous Famous Voice Actors in the Franchise
Rockstar is a big advocate of putting real-life celebrities in their games, or at least in their likeness (see entry above regarding Ja Rule and Eazy-E). In GTA: Vice City Stories, legendary musician Phil Collins is in the game, and players can even experience a performance of ‘In the Air Tonight’ in the game.
Talk show host Lawlow Jones also voiced a character in GTA V. Other celebrities who have voiced characters or had bit parts in the franchise include Samuel L. Jackson, Axl Rose, Iggy Pop, Ray Liotta, Peter Fonda, Ice T, Burt Reynolds, Michael Madsen, and Lawrence Taylor. The Grand Theft Auto franchise was one of the first video game franchises to use celebrities in their voiceovers.
4. Not For Children
With the franchise’s highly controversial background, including copious amounts of violence, sex, cursing, and more, there’s a reason why many people are up-in-arms over the popularity and releases of such games. To make a point, perhaps, about why these games are rated for a Mature Audience Only, is this fact: There are only two underage people/minors in the entire series so far.
The first is Mary-Beth Williams, an infant in GTA: Vice City Stories whose parents were killed. The second is the 13-year-old Jill Von Crastenburg, from GTA IV. Jill is a wealthy and famous hotel-heiress, who often gets in trouble for partying (remind you of any real-life celebrities with the same MO? Perhaps one whose first name rhymes with Ferris?)
3. Delayed Releases in the Core Games
Since GTA III, all of the core games’ releases have been delayed. GTA III was delayed three weeks (with an original release date of October 2, 2001), eventually coming out on October 22, 2001 for the PS2. Furthermore, the PSN re-release of GTA III was delayed as well, due to music licensing issues.
GTA: San Andreas was pushed back by a week for its 2004 American release date, from October 19 to October 26. GTA IV was supposed to be released on October 17, 2007, but pushed it back all the way until April 29, 2008, in order to increase financial results in 2008. GTA V was supposed to come out in early 2013, but ended up being pushed back until September 17, 2013.
2. GTA V’s Landmark Release
This one was highly publicized in the media, so it might not be that big of a secret, but GTA V became the quickest selling game of all time upon its 2013 release. GTA V crushed seven Guinness World Records when it was released. The most eye-opening of which is probably this one: “Fastest Entertainment Property to generate $1 billion,” which it did in its first three days! By comparison, the high-grossing film of all time, Avatar, took nearly a year to reach around $2 billion.
GTA V sold 11.21 million units on its first day of retail, generating revenue of $815.7 million. GTA V proved (and was reiterated by Editor-in-Chief of Guinness World Records, Craig Glenday) that gaming is no longer a niche hobby. The game beat Hollywood. The game also broke records such as, best-selling video game in 24 hours, highest-grossing video game in 24 hours, and most viewed trailer for an action-adventure video game, amongst others.
1. The Franchise Was An Accident
Grand Theft Auto – and especially its revolutionary, open-aired world that began with GTA III in 2001 – was not originally supposed to be a franchise. Race’n’Chase was a game being developed in 1995 by DMA Designs, which is now Rockstar North. When a glitch was discovered in the game, where a player could become a cop or criminal and chase other cops or criminals in cars, tests showed that people loved the feature more than any other in the game.
The entire platform of the game was scrapped and reworked, so that the aggressive style of car-chasing remained, and the game eventually became Grand Theft Auto, and sparked the revolutionary video game franchise of its time.