A nationwide crime spree is coming: starting at midnight Tuesday, millions of cars will be stolen as part of a more audacious plot that also involves other mayhem.
The source of the mayhem is the latest incarnation of the “Grand Theft Auto” video game series – either a cathartic work of interactive art or a brutal, Satanic murder simulator, depending on who you ask – which hits the shelves on Tuesday, Sept.17.
The game, which puts the player in control of three ne'er-do-wells as they fight, steal, shoot, fly and drive their way through "one last job," has been a big investment for development company Rockstar, owned by Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ: TTWO). Rockstar reportedly sank as much as $265 million into the project. This is $100 million more than the blockbuster crime/car-carnage movie “Fast & Furious 6,” and if true, would make “GTA V” the most expensive video game ever made. Other analysts have estimated that the game cost about as much as that film. Either way, it’s clear that the game is setting a new bar for blockbuster entertainment.
“GTA V” also looks likely to become the most profitable game ever. It is slated to sell 24 million copies and rake in over a billion dollars, a figure that rivals successful films like “Skyfall” and “Iron Man 3.” In anticipation of its launch, shares of Take-Two Interactive have surged 60 percent since the start of the year.
There's no question that the face of gaming has changed. Back in the heady days of acid-wash jeans and gaudy tracksuits, most games were created by small production houses, with programmers filling multiple roles. Even as late as 2002, cult classic videogame “Max Payne”had its titular character modeled and voiced by its writer, Sam Lake. Fast forward to 2013, and the upcoming Quantic Dream title “Beyond: Two Souls” bills Hollywood stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, with a score composed by the renowned Hans Zimmer.
Far from the pubescent, acne-studded nerd world of gaming in the '90s as portrayed in multiple cringe-worthy movies, most surveys now peg the average gamer as a thirtysomething year-old person (of either sex) who games to relax after juggling work, kids, and other responsibilities. The skateboarding, Mountain Dew drinking gamers of the '90s have grown up, and gaming has grown up with them.
It's hard to imagine anyone lining up at midnight for a cartridge of “Missile Command” or “Breakout.”Like it or not, games have evolved into a nuanced, artistically valid and profitable entertainment sector. Check out some of the steps in this evolution in our slideshow of 21 Video Games that Changed The Industry.