It's sometimes hard to comprehend just how long GTA V has been around for close to a decade. It's playable on three different generations of consoles with a shiny upgraded version due out on the PS5 and Xbox Series X this month.
It currently sits as the second best-selling game of all time behind Minecraft. The estimated number of copies sold is expected to have surpassed 160 million. What's even more impressive is that Minecraft has a much broader audience appeal as well as educational uses. It's understandable that it has sold more than 200 million units but to have GTA V sitting so close behind it is the real story.
How then - in 2022 - is it possible for GTA V to be considered underappreciated? Well, time may heal wounds, but it also clouds judgement. We are now at a point in time where the accomplishments, feats and industry-defining design of GTA V has stopped getting the credit it deserves.
GTA V still holds up
The first big win that GTA V holds over many games is the fact that playing the game nearly a decade later, everything holds up. When GTA V Expanded & Enhanced is finally released this month, it won't stick out among the modern-day releases like Horizon: Forbidden West, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands and even Elden Ring.
GTA V was so far ahead of its time with gameplay, storytelling, online infrastructure and every other aspect of the game to the point where it can still be used as a case study by developers today for how to build an open-world game.
GTA Online still has a ton of players interacting each and every week with regular updates still bringing exciting new content that's as popular as ever. Massive free DLC updates such as the Los Santos Tuner and The Contract saw players flood back to the game over the last 12 months. It's a never-ending experience at this point.
Beyond the quality of the game itself, whenever GTA V tops the gaming charts or breaks another record, the reaction is now muted somewhat. The reason for that is simple, it's just expected. GTA V was even in the top 10 physical games sold in the UK as recently as early February 2022.
Take yourself back to when you first booted up the game and played that opening mission. Easily one of the greatest openings to a game ever. The trouble you probably had was that even when you moved past the opening hour, things just kept getting better. There was no defining point within GTA V where the quality dropped.
It didn't matter whether you were playing through the story, interacting with strangers on the streets or just cruising the open world.
This is what we seem to forget and it's factors like this that have caused a large part of the gaming community to look past just how defining GTA V is. I genuinely believe had this game been a flop, the industry itself would look very different today, and not in a good way.
What the future holds
Finally, the legacy of GTA V is one that's caused the mystique and hype around GTA 6 to be at an all-time high. Rockstar merely announced that the game was in development and it became (probably, it's hard to verify) one of the biggest gaming-related tweets on the Twitter platform.
When GTA 6 is officially revealed and we start to see more from the game, expectations are going to be sky-high. Such is the cross that Rockstar have to bear. Imagine creating what is essentially an industry-defining game then having to follow that standard with the next instalment.
Red Dead Redemption 2 got a pass in many ways as it was a different franchise. That didn't matter in the end though because the quality - at least in the single player content - was just as high as that in GTA V.
In all likelihood, GTA 6 will release somewhere around the 10th Anniversary of GTA V and I expect we'll still be talking about it even then. Preservation is key within the gaming industry and we should continue to appreciate everything GTA V accomplished long after it eventually fades away.