History of Grand Theft Auto

logo of GTA series

History of Grand Theft Auto

5 Facts About Grand Theft Auto (Video Game)

  • Actual gang members were hired to voice NPCs in Grand Theft Auto V. They were allowed to go off-script to make the game as authentic as possible.
  • Grand Theft Auto V had roughly 80,000 voice lines.
  • The GTA series was initially developed as Race’n’Chase, a cops and robbers game. However, a glitch caused the cops to aggressively chase the players off the road. Testers loved this glitch, and the game was reworked around it.
  • Steve Ogg, the voice of Trevor, recorded several scenes of dialogue in his underwear.
  • A random, driverless car will spawn and follow you through the woods in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to help you escape if you do not have a vehicle.

What Is Grand Theft Auto?

Grand Theft Auto, or GTA, is an action-adventure game created by David Jones and Mike Daily. It was developed by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) and published by their parent company, Rockstar Games. The game’s name references the actual legal term for stealing a car in the United States, and true to its name, you will be stealing lots of vehicles.

GTA focuses on an open-world map where the player can complete quests in any order to progress an overarching storyline. GTA V also features a multiplayer mode where players can drop into a world and complete tasks with friends. Gameplay typically revolves around driving or shooting in the third person. Additionally, the game features elements from the 16-bit era beat ‘em ups.

Quick Facts

Creator (person)
David Jones, Mike Dailly
Release Date
Original Price
Units sold
Operating System
Developed By (company)
DMA Design, Rockstar North

The original GTA had three separate maps for Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas, but more recent entries to the game tend to focus on just a single city in the GTA universe. The cities in GTA are based on real-life cities, with Liberty City based on New York City, Vice City based on Miami, and San Andreas based on San Fransisco.

Since its initial release, the game has reached wide critical acclaim. All 3D GTA titles have been among the highest-rated and best-selling video games worldwide. The series has shipped over 370 million units, making it the fifth best-selling video game franchise ever.

How to Use Grand Theft Auto

Gameplay typically depends on the version of GTA you’re playing. All GTA iterations were multiplatform, including on PC, which was not the most common choice of gaming platform until recently.

On PC, GTA defaults to using WASD to move with left-click to shoot and right-click to bring your weapon into aiming mode. Using the scroll wheel on your mouse will either quick-swap weapons with the ones in your inventory or zoom in and out if you have a weapon with a zoom scope.

Xbox and PlayStation have varying controls between the two platforms, but the scheme is relatively similar. The left joystick is to move; the right joystick is to aim. The right trigger will shoot while the left trigger brings the weapon into aiming mode. Additionally, early games were released on GameBoy Color, which had its own set of unique controls.

How to Learn Grand Theft Auto

At its core, Grand Theft Auto is a fairly generic third-person shooter. The most important skills you’ll need to be “good” at this game are good to aim and good twitch reflexes. You’ll need to be able to aim down enemies whether you’re using a mouse and keyboard or controller. However, by default, mouse and keyboard users won’t have access to things like aim assist. You must do so manually if you want to enable aim assist on PC. Unlike some other shooters, GTA has scaling aim assist, so you can choose how much you want your aim to be assisted by the aim assist.

The best way to “learn” GTA is to keep playing it. While you won’t be “good” at first, the more you play, the more the controls and concepts are embedded into your muscle memory without thinking about the basic controls.

The Difference Between Grand Theft Auto vs Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is often touted as “Chinese Grand Theft Auto” as the games have many similarities in design and gameplay. However, Sleeping Dogs and Grand Theft Auto have many differences, largely in design.

First of all, Sleeping Dogs focuses more on hand-to-hand combat, unlike GTA, which focuses on gun combat. Sleeping Dogs’ hand-to-hand combat system is in-depth, creative, and, more importantly, something you have to learn specifically to play the game. While included elements of beat ‘em up games still use hand-to-hand combat in GTA, the gameplay mostly focuses on engaging with guns.

Sleeping Dogs has a linear story, while Grand Theft Auto focuses on an open-world experience with an overarching story that can be progressed at any time. When playing Sleeping Dogs, the player will be externally guided through a set story with little room for change. When playing GTA, the player can choose when, where, and why to engage with the story. Players could theoretically spend hundreds of hours without progressing or completing the story.

Finally, Sleeping Dogs focuses on providing a more real-world experience and story. The game is set in Hong Kong, rather than one of GTA’s fictionalized cityscapes, and real attractions and sights in Hong Kong can be visited. Because the game is set in Hong Kong, it maintains aspects of Hong Kong’s cultural identity in its world-building. GTA has a unique identity that isn’t necessarily relatable in the real world.

The Difference Between Grand Theft Auto vs Red Dead Redemption

art cover for red dead redemption
In Red Dead Redemption, players can roam freely in an interactive open world

set i

n a fictionalized version of West USA,

Another game often compared to GTA is Rockstar’s other major IP, Red Dead Redemption. Because Rockstar publishes both games, it makes sense that people would naturally start to compare the two. Red Dead Redemption is another open world action-roleplaying-game where the player takes control of a cowboy in cowboy times.

The biggest difference between Red Dead Redemption and GTA is that Red Dead focuses more on its story than GTA. In GTA, it’s possible and even encouraged to completely avoid the story and just run around stealing cars and placing bullets squarely between the eyes of anyone who has something to say about it. But Red Dead focuses on telling the tales of John Marsten and Arthur Morgan. Red Dead’s storytelling is a far cry from GTA’s, and many people get sucked into the story with how well it’s handled and presented.

However, Grand Theft Auto has much more socio-political commentary than Red Dead. The game takes place in the modern day, albeit a fictionalized version of the modern day. Its sad and depressing parts tend to hit harder because they mirror the real-world struggles we see in life.

Grand Theft Auto Version History

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto was developed by DMA Design and published by BMG Interactive. It was released on November 28, 1997, and is one of the two 2D entries to the series. The game was initially designed as a cops and robbers game called Race’n’Chase, but a glitch in the game caused the cops to chase the players off the road aggressively. However, beta testers absolutely adored the glitch, finding it hilarious and fun, so the game was reworked around that glitch.

Grand Theft Auto 2

Grand Theft Auto 2 is in a retrofuturistic city called “Anywhere City.” It was released on October 22, 1999, and was a multiplatform game, including the Dreamcast and Game Boy Color releases. The player takes control of a criminal in Anywhere City and uses their player character to complete tasks for criminal bosses and organizations, using whatever means necessary to get the job done.

Grand Theft Auto III

Grand Theft Auto III is the first 3D entry to the series. The story is set in the fictional Liberty City, based on New York City, and follows a silent protagonist named Claude. After Claude is abandoned and left for dead during a robbery (by his girlfriend, no less!), he embarks on a journey of revenge that takes him into the underbelly of the city’s crime scenes.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the fourth installment in the Grand Theft Auto series. It is set in the fictional Vice City, as the name states. Vice City is loosely based on Miami. The single-player campaign focuses on mobster Tommy Vercetti’s rise to power in the criminal underbelly of Vice City.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the fifth installment of the GTA series. It takes place in the fictional city of San Andreas, based loosely on the real-life city San Fransisco. The story of the game follows Carl “CJ” Johnson as he completes tasks and jobs for various criminal organizations.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV is the sixth entry in the GTA series. The single-player campaign focuses on Eastern European war veteran Niko Bellic as he attempts to escape the skeletons in his closet while under immense pressure from local criminal organizations.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V is the seventh main installment to the Grand Theft Auto series and the most recently developed installment. The story has three protagonists that are featured in the game: a retired bank robber, Michael de Santa, a street gangster, Franklin Clinton, and a drug dealer and gunrunner, Trevor Philips.

Final Thoughts

While Grand Theft Auto often comes under fire for glorifying gun violence, it’s still a major pillar of game design, especially in the open-world genre. This game will go down in history as one of the most popular and influential games ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Grand Theft auto first release?

Grand Theft Auto first released on November 29, 1997.

How much did Grand Theft Auto originally cost?

We were unable to find a correct read on the original price of the first Grand Theft Auto game. However, recent titles have released at a price point of $59.99 USD.

What fictional cities are featured in Grand Theft Auto?

Grand Theft Auto has featured many fictional cities, including Anywhere City, Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas.

Which Grand Theft Auto introduced the open-world sandbox concept to the series?

Grand Theft Auto III was the first game to introduce the open-world sandbox mechanics to the series.

What are some of the different activities in Grand Theft Auto?

Grand Theft Auto players will be presented with many different criminal activities to engage in, including robbery, burglary, breaking and entering, and, of course, grand theft auto.

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