The new Grand Theft Auto game, GTA V, is getting poised to break sales records when it is released, with an expected £1bn, nearly 25 million sales, in the first year alone. This Scottish-created game has become one of the most iconic and best selling games in history, defining an entire market and making the “sand box” game into one of the most profitable genres ever.
The game itself is produced by Rockstar North, a subsidy of Take-Two Interactive, and based in Edinburgh’s Greenside Row. The game itself, fifth major release and part of a collection of smaller expansions, once again strives to tell the story of people living on the edges of America, scratching out what money and power they can by whatever means necessary in a version of Southern California that has been turned up to eleven.
In this case, there are three protagonists (“heroes” is not really appropriate for GTA) that the player will be able to switch between as the game progresses. Throughout, the player will be treated to in jokes, subtle satire, and a humanization of crime that most other games don’t try to accomplish.
The amount of research that went into the creation of this game will help drive up the sales figures as well. Designers spent quite a bit of time looking at census data, car sales figures, police procedure in LA, all sorts of photos of the city and its suburbs, and quite a bit more to get an accurate, realistic feel to the metro that will host the three main characters.
Real life gangsters were even employed to do voice acting for various characters, adding a realism of tone and inflection to interactions in the game.
Creators feel that this authenticity will help develop a more immersive environment, one that players will be able to truly invest in.
A Not Scottish Product
One thing that developers are often questioned on is why a product created in Scotland takes place in an idealized America, and the answer is that Scottish games should be able to bring across Scottish sensibilities without having to draw from overused cultural images of the country. It’s one of the reasons why they licensed various types of pop music instead of dousing the soundtrack in bagpipes. The objective is to create a product that feels Scottish without, “dripping with tartan, shortbread and wee Scottie dogs.”