The overall market for video games has been in a tailspin for years, but certain top-tier game titles continue to generate impressive results. And so it was this week with the latest episode in the lucrative Grand Theft Auto series of games: Grand Theft Auto V racked up an astonishing $800 million in sales in its first day of availability.
"All of us at Take-Two are thrilled with the initial response to Grand Theft Auto V," Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said. “Once again, the team at Rockstar Games have outdone themselves, setting the entertainment industry's new standard for creativity, innovation, and excellence. We are incredibly proud of Rockstar Games' creative achievement and could not be more pleased with the success of this launch."
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And it really is an achievement. By comparison, the previous record-setter, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, earned $500 million its first day and $1 billion in 15 days late last year. And the previous Grand Theft Auto game—Grand Theft Auto IV—had $310 million in sales on its own first day in the market five years ago. By comparison, only 40 movies have ever grossed more than $800 million, and none of them were able to hit that figure in just a day. The biggest single-day movie opening of all time, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II in 2011, grossed just $91 million.
Not bad for a game that includes such dark and adult subject matter as beating up police officers and prostitutes, consuming illegal drugs, and rampant nudity and sex. This game bears a closer resemblance to a Quentin Tarantino film than a Super Mario Bros. game.
Although the game is expected to cross the $1 billion milestone very quickly, Grand Theft Auto V sales will drop off rapidly after that. And compared with movie sales, there's no secondary rental market to count on. But it will be interesting to see how this title performs over the next few weeks, in comparison with the several other blockbuster game releases expected this holiday season. A new Call of Duty title, Ghosts, will debut in November, for example.