Behind the HYPE: How ‘GTA V’ Became One of the Most Influential Video Games Ever

Looking back at how the game went from overnight success and instant controversy to being tapped by the biggest names in rap and streetwear.

Gaming
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Grand Theft Auto V has cemented itself as the most popular video game of the 2010s. With 150 million units sold to date, the sought after video game took the industry by storm upon its release in 2013 and to this day, continues to wield influence that extends beyond the gaming sphere, materializing in current fashion, music and pop culture realms.

Several years after its debut, GTA V has maintained its relevance with a slew of ongoing features and collaborations that are still being integrated into its gameplay experience. Alongside evergreen references woven into the game’s storyline, such as allusions to the Fast & Furious franchise and the early aughts Sopranos series, brands and artists have tapped into its enduring impact to launch their own projects within the game.

Berlin-based skate shop Civilist and the Polish clubwear label MISBHV created clothing that’s available for players to buy in-game at retailers across Los Santos, and in 2021, Born X Raised dropped it’s in-game collection.

GTA V has also been co-signed by some of the biggest rappers in music. The legendary Frank Ocean curated the “Flying Lotus” radio station for players to tune in to as they drive around the city. Denzel Curry and YBN Cordae found their way to the game as well, dropping their collaboration “AL1ENZ” exclusively on the in-game “iFruit Radio” station, which featured a tracklist handpicked by Danny Brown and Skepta.

Coinciding with its record-breaking success, the game has been routinely criticized for its depictions of weapons and sexual imagery, sparking heated debates about on-screen violence and content regulation in video games. It was even banned in some stores in Australia. In the latest episode of Behind the HYPE, we explored how, in spite of these roadblocks, the legacy of GTA V has endured.

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