With the game nearly a decade old at this point and still going strong, it’s no surprise that fans have questions about the original development of Grand Theft Auto 5. Rockstar Games has been breaking the mold and stirring controversy with the GTA series ever since April 6, 1999 when Grand Theft Auto: Mission Pack #1 – London 1969 landed on MS-DOS and Windows.
In the decades since then, video game development has gone through plenty of evolution. As a result of continued graphics and processing improvements with each console generation, GTA 5 was ready to push things further than ever before. However, that meant it would take quite a long time to make GTA 5.
In this article, you will learn:
- How long it took to create GTA 5
- The production costs of GTA 5
How long did it take to make GTA 5?
According to an interview in 2013 with Leslie Benzies, then president of Rockstar North, full production for GTA 5 took just three years. However, Benzies does add that early stages of development began as GTA IV was wrapping up and aiming for an April 2008 worldwide launch. With the GTA 5 being released in 2013, it’s arguable that the entire course of development for GTA 5 took closer to five years.
One of the biggest reasons for that length of time was the choice to do three different protagonists as part of the story in GTA 5, which meant tripling most of their work. As Benzies explained, “Three characters need three times as much memory, three types of animation, and so on.” The concept was one they’d considered using on previous Grand Theft Auto installments, but the technical aspects just weren’t feasible on previous platforms.
One of the earliest stages in development was establishing the open world design, which included heavy research on Los Angeles once it was decided the game would be adapted to that area. The research included over 250,000 photographs and hours of video footage to fully represent the reality of Los Angeles in the fictional city Los Santos, and Google Maps projections were also utilized.
Rockstar Games development cost of GTA 5
It’s known that a development team of over 1,000 people spread across Rockstar Games studios in Leeds, Lincoln, London, New England, San Diego, and Toronto worked on GTA 5. Just at Rockstar North, there was a core 360-person team facilitating primary development and coordination with all the other international studios.
Rockstar Games, like most companies, doesn’t openly discuss the exact development budget of their titles. These figures have become harder and harder to come by over the years, even for the largest of studios, but estimates have ranged from 137 million dollars to upwards of 265 million dollars or more, which would make it the most expensive game ever made at its time.