From 1997- 2013: How the Grand Theft Auto series has evolved

A screenshot from Grand Theft Auto V which will be released on the 17 September Credit: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto 5 is due to be released next week to more hype than ever before.

Here is a look at how the series all began.


  • Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is released by DMA Design, a small video game company based in Scotland. It is the second success of the company, which has already sold 20 million copies of 1990's Lemmings, but even so was nearly cancelled due to production issues.

  • Set in a 2D universe, across three fictional US cities, it is released for PC, PlayStation and later the Game Boy Color - although this version is heavily censored to target younger generations.

  • The game is immediately controversial for its violence, with the Daily Mail calling for an outright ban. However, this only helps its commercial success and two London expansion packs are released soon after.


  • Grand Theft Auto 2 is released, set in an unspecified time in the future, in an unspecified metropolis in the States. By now DMA Design has been bought by the US' Take Two Interactive and will soon become Rockstar North, part of Rockstar Games.


  • The series is relaunched with Grand Theft Auto III. Now in a 3D universe, the third-person camera, unlimited car-stealing and 'hidden rewards' help make this the breakthrough game for the franchise.


  • Still considered by many fans as the best of the series, GTA: Vice City is launched. The game features celebrity appearances, including Ray Liotta's voice, Phil Collins as himself and a dance to Michael Jackson's Billie Jean.

Vice City character Tommy Vercetti was voiced by actor Ray Liotta Credit: Rockstar Games


  • San Andreas is released to similar success, with new features including BMX backflipping, sightings of Big Foot and a protagonist who gets fat if he doesn't eat healthily.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been the best-selling game of the series to date, with sales of 27.5 million. Credit: Rockstar Games


  • After three further less-successful follow-ups to GTA III, Grand Theft Auto IV brings with it a new level of experience. Labelled the 'HD universe' by its manufacturers, the setting has much more realistic gameplay and introduces online multiplayer to the series.


  • Three new follow-up releases are brought out in the same year. The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are available for download through a partnership with Microsoft, and Chinatown Wars is released on Nintendo DS.

GTA V is rumoured to feature 22 types of plane and helicopter Credit: Rockstar Games


  • Rockstar Games announce Grand Theft Auto V via their Twitter account, and what follows is the most anticipation for a game in the series so far.


With pre-order sales of 2.5 million, Grand Theft Auto V is set to become one of the best selling video games of recent times when it is released on 17 September. Set in the fictional city of Los Santos, it features three playable characters who join forces on a series of missions.