Why GTAV and Rockstar Games is Leading the Game Industry.
One of the oldest games in my backlog was Grand Theft Auto 5, which I can finally cross of the list. It's hard to believe that the game originally came out on the PS3/Xbox 360 in September 2013 and re-released in November of 2014 on the current generation of consoles. You can pick up a new copy now for $30 at most retail stores, but up until this year, the game was always at it's original $60 since it was released. This was rare because most games lower their price drastically within a year of launch due to the used game market, which many retail stores also do now.
The reason GTAV seemed to be resistant to this effect is that of the simple fact that there were fewer people trading in their copies. There are a couple reasons for this. First, the game is the largest GTA to date with more than ever to do, with players easily being able to sink 200 hours into the game. The game incorporates features and locations from previous games to make this the most refined, fun to play game in the series yet. For example, the leveling skills system from GTA3 San Andreas based on how often you use skills makes a return. The cover-based system and shooting mechanics from GTA4 is back, while also adding a special skill to each character that affects combat or gameplay.
One edition that makes the PS4/Xbox One version the significantly better than the previous generation counterpart is the addition of 1st person perspective. At first it may just sound like another camera angle but it absolutely changes everything, and in my opinion is the best part of the game. If you don't like cover-based games because it makes things too easy, then feel free to switch to 1st person mode and the game feels like a top-notch FPS game. I found myself mostly playing in 3rd person and switching to 1st person in the more intense firefights. The game also caters to all levels of player skill as well. There is an option in the game to adjust the auto-aim feature, which initially locks on your targets when aiming or can be turned off entirely for more challenge.
The second and main reason for the longevity of this game is the GTA Online game that is still coming out with regular updates. It feels like an MMO with a high player base and commitment from developers that have prevented it from becoming stale like most other online games. I haven't gotten into the online part of the game, but it's rare to see a game's online component thrive this long after the initial release of the game. Buying a new retail copy gave access to GTA Online for free, but calling it an online component won't do it justice. The reason its called GTA Online and not just GTAV Online is that I see it still having a thriving player base four more years from now when the next game in the series comes along. Some games and their developers that are multiplayer focused know that much of their revenue will come from online transactions, so, therefore, their single-player campaign is bare bones or a second thought. Or vice versa. Not saying that all multiplayer games can't do both well, Titanfall 2 is one example I really enjoyed. GTAV and its online component are both huge successes and credit go it the developers at Rockstar North.
Rockstar North is a unique game company that I really admire for going against the trend of other game companies. I'm not going into more detail about what makes the game great, because everyone already knows those features at this point. But when game developers like Rockstar North and publisher Rockstar Games are doing things right we, as gamers, definitely need to support them. Great game developers are more than ever incorporating their player's feedback into their games, but sales and continued interest in the final product is the ultimate decision maker. There have been many changes in the game industry in the last couple of years, that I have strong opinions about. Some of these include yearly installments, micro-transactions, and mobile game design elements.
GTA is a big franchise and I'm not against sequels but some game developers are more interested in churning out high profitable franchises every year or two knowing that they will sell well to help their bottom line. I'm aware that Rockstar Games is part of Take-Two Interactive, and as a public company they also have shareholders, but like any great company they know to run a good business. Taking the time and money to create a great quality game will make gamer's happy and benefit the company.
One aspect that I love about GTA games is the high quality of gameplay, dialogue, story, and humor. GTA was one of the first games I played that had dialogue that sounded like it was taken from a movie and helped push the whole industry forward. Video games are known for long development cycles and costs, and Rockstar North shows how properly it should be done. GTAV started development in 2009 and was said to have a production cost of $265 million which was the largest cost at the time. With that type of investment, a delay of a couple months would cost the company lots of money. Everyone involved in the game's production, as well as the fans, must have confidence in the developers knowing that the game won't be released until it meets their high standards. Not everything is going to be perfect and some games end up in development hell, with all online games experience initial difficulties related to infrastructure and server stability.
With Red Dead Redemption 2 revealed I'm excited to see what Rockstar North and Rockstar Games will do to surprise us. I'm sure they are already working on the next GTA game, and I can't imagine what they will do to push the limits of the PS4 or next-gen console. After watching the credits roll on GTAV I'm reminded of why I love games so much, and how we have to support companies that do it right.