GTA 5 changed gaming and you barely noticed

grand theft auto 5

It’s a safe bet you’ve heard of Grand Theft Auto 5. Even people who can’t tell the difference between an Xbox and one of those “Nintendos” have heard of Grand Theft Auto 5. As you may have guessed, the game centers around stealing cars, but the franchise is so much more than that. From the streets of Liberty City to the heights of Mount Chiliad, Grand Theft Auto games offer an experience that keeps players coming back for more, even years after release.

Rockstar Games has an undeniable hit on their hands. Grand Theft Auto 5 has made a name for itself through controversy, wild success, and still more controversy. No matter how nefarious the crimes committed (murder, robbery, prostitution, etc.) in-game, the good name of Grand Theft Auto bounces back into a favorable light. Few scandals can mar Rockstar’s masterpiece franchise, a game series that has left a lasting mark on the industry. Here’s how Grand Theft Auto 5 has changed gaming.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is the best-selling game of all time in the US

Grand Theft Auto 5 came out in 2013 and quickly became the crown jewel of Rockstar’s significantly bedazzled lineup. Yes, Red Dead Redemption and its sequel raked in fans and praise, but Grand Theft Auto 5 has claimed a spot as one of the most successful games in history, rivaling universally beloved titles like Tetris and Minecraft. In fact, according to Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto 5 has outsold all other games in the United States.

In 2017, Rockstar parent company Take-Two announced Grand Theft Auto 5 had sold 85 million units since release, a number that has climbed to almost 110 million as of May 2019. The ongoing demand for the game has made Take-Two untold profits, a cash flow that doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. People continue to buy the game, often at full price, topping even new releases year after year. Despite its age, Grand Theft Auto 5 remains fresh.

Grand Theft Auto 5 pioneered unprecedented freedom

Feel like cruising down the street in a super car? Hitting the strip clubs? Committing first-degree murder? You can do it all in Grand Theft Auto 5. (Please restrict your murder sprees to the virtual world.) The Grand Theft Auto series, especially Grand Theft Auto 5, offers players an unprecedented amount of freedom. The world is your oyster, and you can do with it what you wish. Rockstar made a game so detailed and large players have yet to get bored with it.

Even after the main campaign, the side missions, and the high stakes heists, players have found new and innovative ways of entertaining themselves in Grand Theft Auto 5. The game lets you express yourself in all new ways: creating game modes, inventing new stunts, taking up photography, and even conducting social experiments. With seemingly endless possibilities, you can be as chaotic or law-abiding as you like. It’s up to you to determine what kind of antics to get up to in Grand Theft Auto 5.

Grand Theft Auto 5 perfected the games as a service model

In a genius move, the folks at Rockstar released an online component for Grand Theft Auto 5. Supported by weekly content and bonuses, GTA Online has kept the game alive, thriving, and, most importantly, profitable. By monetizing Grand Theft Auto 5 in this way, Rockstar became one of the first companies to find wild success in the now vogue games as a service model.

Ever notice modern games work a little differently than before? Rather than one-and-done releases, the industry has embraced the strategy of making experiences that never end; updates, seasons, and new modes keep the games going long after launch. EA has thoroughly (perhaps to its detriment) embraced this games as a service model, as has Rockstar. The company hopes lightning will strike twice with Red Dead Online. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told investors: “It may not always be an online model, it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board. That’s a sea change in our business.” And business is booming.

Is Grand Theft Auto 5 to blame for microtransactions?

Other gaming companies have noticed the success Grand Theft Auto Online continues to enjoy. Intent on making money after launch, developers and publishers have snuck more and more microtransactions into their games, many of which are shameless, even predatory. Grand Theft Auto 5 did not invent microtransactions, and the game doesn’t go so far as to make you pay for extra save files, but the money Take-Two has made off of them may have inspired other gaming companies.

Take-Two draws in massive profits from these microtransactions. Almost half of its revenue for fiscal Second Quarter 2018 came from “recurrent consumer spending.” In layman’s terms, microtransactions such as DLC and in-game currency have made a large contribution to Take-Two’s financial success. Those small purchases — a Shark Card here, an upgrade there — can really add up.

Grand Theft Auto 5 helped popularize roleplaying

Grand Theft Auto 5 gives you an incredible amount of freedom to play the way you want to. When you add friends to the mix via Grand Theft Auto Online, you can even return to the days of your childhood and play pretend. Grand Theft Auto roleplaying is a thing, and a surprisingly popular one at that. Players, often streamers, take on personas that fit in the world of Los Santos and go about their lives, creating their own storylines in character.

These servers filled with talented actors playing as inventive characters draw flocks of viewers who watch as drama unfolds live on stream. Serial killers prowl the streets. High speed chases are practically common place. Grand Theft Auto roleplaying servers offer a taste of the Grand Theft Auto movie that will never be. The roleplayers adhere to a basic set of “laws” to keep the playing field even between the cops and the criminals. It’s not a perfect world — the community experiences its own scandals — but it sure is an entertaining one to watch. Viewers and players alike find themselves hooked on Grand Theft Auto roleplay.

Grand Theft Auto 5 has made careers

Grand Theft Auto videos have flooded YouTube, with many channels centered on Grand Theft Auto 5 content. Thanks to the longevity of the game, these channels haven’t run out of material yet. Some popular channels gained notoriety by playing around in the chaotic world of Los Santos.

The success of the Achievement Hunter channel can largely be attributed to the Grand Theft Auto franchise. A massive chunk of their content, including the flagship Let’s Play Grand Theft Auto series, focuses on Grand Theft Auto 5. These videos have received thousands of views. In fact, when Rockstar released the popular heists in 2015, Achievement Hunter fans accused the company of stealing the idea from the Let’s Play gang, who had already planned and executed (with varying degrees of success) a series of heists. These chaotic, ill-conceived Grand Theft Auto heists were so popular that the group performed their final heist live in front of a sold out audience. Thanks to Grand Theft Auto, these six hooligans turned playing video games into a live spectator sport. Grand Theft Auto 5 has helped make several lucrative careers.

Grand Theft Auto 5 paved the way for adult gamers

What does the average gamer look like? For years, the misconception persisted that the title “gamer” belonged solely to a teenage boy. Recent surveys have proven this assumption incorrect, with 40% of video game players falling in the 18 to 35 age demographic. It turns out 46% of gamers are female, with the average age for both male and female players falling in the early to mid 30s. Believe it or not, Grand Theft Auto 5 did much to publicize the fact that yes, adults play video games.

It seems silly now, but the early 2000s were filled with games that carefully appealed to kids. Grand Theft Auto blazed its own trail, embracing mature ratings and proving adults can be just as avid gamers as kids. Grand Theft Auto 5’s bombastic success pushed gaming further into the mainstream, its mature plot lines proving games don’t have to be kid friendly to be successful. Sure, kids play Grand Theft Auto 5, but is it really a bunch of 12-year-olds with their allowances that made Rockstar millions? We don’t think so.

Grand Theft Auto 5 made multiple main characters popular

Who is Grand Theft Auto 5’s protagonist? Micheal, Trevor, and Franklin all share an approximately equal amount of the spotlight. (Although, we’ll admit  Trevor leaves a big impression.) The game made the most out of having several storylines weave together. While Grand Theft Auto 5 didn’t invent the concept, the game helped popularize the idea of multiple main characters, each with their own stories to play through, rather than one hero who represents the whole franchise.

Previously, most AAA titles had one franchise-spanning star such as Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, Mario, and Sonic. Developers have built empires on the shoulders of well-liked characters. In contrast, Grand Theft Auto places the emphasis on the world, the environment you can explore. By offering multiple main characters to explore Los Santos through, Rockstar gave players a more well-rounded experience, a trend you can see in titles like We Happy Few and A Way Out.

GTA V mysteries that make no sense

There’s an entire world of activities for players to contend with inside the huge Grand Theft Auto V. Ranging from the Story Mode to Online Play, this famous crime series has always delivered a fulfilling gaming experience for hardcore fans and casual players alike. What those casual players don’t know, however, is that lurking beneath the surface of GTA V are countless intriguing mysteries. Here are a few of the best unsolved mysteries that don’t make much sense. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to solve them.

Zombie Outbreak

The zombie apocalypse hasn’t hit San Andreas just yet, but at least one Los Santos resident is extremely worried. Lester Crest, the socially awkward hacker who helps Michael, Franklin, and Trevor cause havoc from behind his keyboard, has a marked paranoid streak, and among the files in his ramshackle home is a box labelled “Zombie Outbreak.” Given that the box right next to it is labelled “Assassinations”—and that Lester doles out actual assassination missions as the game rolls on—some fans wonder if Lester’s research is more than just a paranoid fantasy.

After all, Lester’s notes aren’t the only place where zombies pop up in Grand Theft Auto V. In Vinewood, an actor dressed like a zombie hangs out by a movie theater. Zombix, an anti-zombie drug featured in Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2, gets name-dropped on Grand Theft Auto V’s Weazel News when an anchor mentions that the narcotic is “more popular with junkies than sick people.” The undead haven’t arrived yet, but the citizens (and addicts) of Grand Theft Auto V will be prepared when they do.

So far, Grand Theft Auto V’s zombies seem more like a red herring than an actual threat, but with Grand Theft Auto online getting regular updates, that could change. After all, Rockstar’s other open-world crime simulator, Red Dead Redemption, got a zombie add-on in the form of Undead Nightmare. If zombies do end up taking to Los Santos’ streets, many players speculate they’ll come from Humane Labs and Research, a “perfume” company that’s behind all kinds of chemical weapons. Of course, that’s just conjecture…for now.

Mountain Ghost

Continuing the thread of supernatural elements, Rockstar Games even went as far as to include an actual ghost into the game. This mystery is only viewable between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. game-time: positioned atop Mount Gordo, this non-violent, silent spirit wears a white nightgown, has a blurry face and long, gangly black hair. She only appears to player at a distance—attempting to get closer only causes the ghost to disappear. One popular fan theory is that the ghost of Mount Gordo is a reference to a character named Jock Cranley, who appears in both GTA V and GTA: Vice City. Jock is arrested on suspicion for murdering his wife, Jolene, who fell (or was pushed) from the top of Mount Gordo. By the time he appears in GTA V, he’s a conservative candidate running for Governor of the State of San Andreas. Whether or not players can interact with the ghost—or somehow bring down Jock—is still unknown.

Doomsday Heist Artwork

Stop the presses: the Grand Theft Auto V’s jetpack has been found—or, rather, it’s finally been added. Ever since Grand Theft Auto V came out, fans have been scouring the game and (and its code) in hopes of deciphering the wide-ranging Mount Chiliad Mystery, which focuses on a map found at the very top of Mount Chiliad. The map tantalizingly teases a UFO, an egg, a person using a jetpack, and a base hidden inside Mount Chiliad itself.

The UFOs were found a while ago, and players have a pretty good guess at what the eggs refer to, also (more on that later). The jetpack and bunker, however, remained a mystery—until now. Grand Theft Auto Online’s massive Doomsday Heist update adds a handful of new multiplayer missions and a bunch of new toys to the game, including a flying car that looks like Back to the Future’s DeLorean, a powerful orbital cannon, and yes, finally, that jetpack, although it’ll set you back $3 million in in-game cash to get it. The missions will take you inside Mount Chiliad, too, confirming the existence of that secret base. Finally, the Mount Chiliad mystery is over.

Or is it? Some illustrations that arrived with the update, and their mysterious contents, hint that there are other discoveries to make. The Mount Chiliad map and UFOs appear on the artwork, of course. Check the yellow section. The green artwork references Grand Theft Auto V’s hallucinogenic Bigfoot quest, with a picture man transforming into the mythical beast, a top-down diagram of a peyote plant, and the word “BIGFOOT” hidden among a DNA spiral. Clearly, these symbols mean something, but investigators haven’t cracked the case — not quite yet, anyway.

The All-Seeing Eye

The jetpack man isn’t the only mysterious symbol that appears on the Mount Chiliad map. At the very top of the image, at the spot representing Mount Chiliad’s peak, is an icon that fans have dubbed the “All-Seeing Eye.” If it looks familiar to you, you must be paying very, very close attention. Not only does the Eye look a lot like the symbol most commonly associated with the Freemasons and the Illuminati, but it pops up all over Los Santos, too.

Seriously, once you start looking, you’ll notice that the All-Seeing Eye is everywhere. Lester has a poster of the Eye on his wall, which also contains an ominous warning: “The man is watching you.” Franklin has a framed version hanging on his wall. The symbol shows up on in-game t-shirts and gear shifts. SecuServ, a company that sells you warehouses in Grand Theft Auto Online, has a version on their logo. Most strikingly, if you visit the Galileo Observatory at the right time of day, the monument outside casts a shadow on the ground that looks exactly like the All-Seeing Eye.

But what does it mean? Clearly, it has something to do with aliens. On the top of Mount Chiliad, a version of the Eye points the way to the message, “Come back when your story is complete”–UFOs only appear if you’ve reached 100% completion in the game. That doesn’t seem like it’s the end of the tale, however. Grand Theft Auto V is full of references to the Illuminati (some people think that the game’s Scientology riff, the Epsilon Program, is an Illuminati front), and given the Eye’s history, there’s bound to be some connection.

The Infinity Killer

Savvy Grand Theft Auto 5 players already know the identity of Los Santos’ most famous serial slayer. A newspaper clipping confirms that Merle Abrahams died at age 57 in 2004 while waiting for his trial to begin. The article notes that Abrahams was suspected of kidnapping, torturing, and ultimately offing eight men, all of whom were out jogging when they disappeared. While police never found the victims’ bodies, players discovered them submerged underwater, wrapped in plastic and tape.

What they still don’t know is why Merle went on his spree, other than the fact that he’s indisputably crazy. Merle has tried to explain, of course. He’s left graffiti all over Los Santos, just waiting for people to find it. He scrawled a nursery rhyme on a rock in the desert, describing each of his victims’ reactions in detail. In his house, he’s painted “8 is just infinity stood up” on the wall (hence, his criminal alias). Merle’s prison cell contains another cryptic message, as well as a hint as to where his victims’ bodies are hidden and another reference to the number eight.

But, like we said, Merle is crazy. None of these messages add up to a consistent mission statement. There’s clearly some method behind the Infinity Killer’s madness, but the full story most likely perished with him, never to be recovered.

Cannibal Cult

Trevor Phillips, one of Grand Theft Auto V’s three protagonists, has some weird acquaintances. But none of them are as depraved as the members of Altruist Cult. At first, of course, the cult seems harmless. They’re just a group of old people who live in the hills, hate technology, worship an alien god called Zapho, and think that the young people—or “sub 40s,” as the Altruists call refer to them on their in-game website—are going to destroy civilization. But then Trevor starts carting people he randomly runs across up to the Altruists’ mountain hideout, and a question emerges: what the heck are the Altruists doing with the prisoners?

Going by the evidence, they’re eating ’em. In the Altruists’ manifesto, they claim that “Sub 40s only exist as subsistence to the altruistic man and gains life from eating them.” A little later, the website implores the Altruists’ followers to “eat of the flesh” and “drink of the blood.” Those could be metaphors, of course—many church services employ similar language without actually endorsing cannibalism—but some experts think that the Altruists’ message is much more literal.

The in-game website claims that no former cult members can be found–because they’ve been eaten. Trevor’s buddy Ron, who tells Trevor that the Altruists are searching for fresh bodies, mentions that they want the people for dinner. Not that it matters, of course—after Trevor delivers four potential meals (i.e. people) to the Altruists’ hideout, they turn on him and he’s forced to kill them all. Still, all those people that Trevor kidnapped had to go somewhere, and the Altruists’ bellies seem like a pretty good bet.


Not all of Grand Theft Auto V’s mysteries made it into the final game. Players discover some secrets simply by searching the game’s art assets, or by taking a look at its code. Take the asteroid, for example. Grand Theft Auto V’s PC version comes with a file called “prop_asteroid.ytd.” Hackers figured out how to spawn the object in the game and, true to the file name, it is in fact an asteroid. It’s a big one, too, with the power to crush both humans and vehicles, so if you spawn it, make sure to get out of the way.

Nobody knows what the asteroid is for. Grand Theft Auto V doesn’t have any meteor shower missions. Its characters never travel into space. Some players speculate that the asteroid is the last remnant of a cut mission (possibly one involving a drug trip). Others contend that the asteroid will support some kind of forthcoming downloadable content—after all, Grand Theft Auto V is full of alien-focused shenanigans. Clearly, the asteroid has, or had, some use. Whether that’s something that was cut or something yet to come is an open question.

The Face on Mount Chiliad

Not every mystery on Mount Chiliad centers around occult symbols and aliens. Some of them are just plain weird. In the original editions of Grand Theft Auto V, a portrait of a grinning man has been spray painted onto the mountainside. Not only does the picture have apparently nothing to do with the plot and serve no discernible purpose, but nobody’s quite sure who the man is even supposed to be.

Some players think that the blurry visage is Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, originally played by actor Aaron Paul. After all, Grand Theft Auto V’s producers are clearly fans of the show. One character, a methamphetamine producer named the Cook, bears a striking resemblance to Breaking Bad lead Walter White. In addition, certain wardrobe options can make Grand Theft Auto V’s Michael De Santa look almost exactly like Bryan Cranston’s iconic drug slinger. Other possible candidates for the mural include one of the game’s many, many developers, or perhaps one of their family members or friends.

No matter who the Face on Mount Chiliad is supposed to be, it seems like Rockstar had second thoughts about including him in the game. In Grand Theft Auto V’s enhanced editions—the ones that came out on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC—the man is gone, replaced with a vulgar doodle of a “rooster.” In other words, Rockstar seems to be saying, don’t think too hard about this mystery. It’s just a joke.


If you manage to get a 100% completion score in Grand Theft Auto V and then travel to one of the spots marked on the Mount Chiliad map, you might see a UFO hovering in the sky. According to some, that’s it. The mystery has been solved.

But has it really? Dedicated fans aren’t so sure. See, while the UFOs have been found, Rockstar keeps adding alien-related content to the game. In December 2016, three years after Grand Theft Auto V’s debut, Rockstar added a brand new UFO model into the game. It has yet to be used. In June 2017, data miners discovered something even bigger: an entire alien-related mission, hidden inside of the game’s code.

Actually triggering the mission is difficult, and requires special tools to change the game’s global variables. Get everything right, however, and you’ll be able to steal an alien egg from a crashed UFO, and then fight off the alien invaders that are trying to protect their brood. The X-Files’ Mulder and Scully even make a post-mortem appearance.

This could be an Easter egg for dedicated Grand Theft Auto V players, or it could be the start of something bigger. With the discovery of the so-called “Alien Egg Supply Run Mission,” many Mount Chiliad enthusiasts are hanging up their hats. Others, however, think this might just be the beginning, and are keeping their eyes peeled for further extra-terrestrial incursions. But are they just wasting their time? We may never know for sure.

Black Cellphones

If you’re cruising around Los Santos and you find yourself in a fix, don’t panic. Just pull up your phone and call 1-999-367-3767. Trust us. You’ll thank us later.

Who’s on the other end, though? Nobody knows. The in-game caller ID only identifies the person on the other end as Black Cellphones. Fans are still trying to figure out who exactly that refers to, but they certainly know what calling them does. Not only does dialing the number change your phone into a sleek black device, but calling Black Cellphones also sets off a massive explosion.

So, what’s going on? The Black Cellphones number itself might hold the key. Telephone keypads have letters in addition to numbers, and 367-3767 can be used to create a few different words and phrases. “EMP-DROP” implies that the explosions could come from an electromagnetic pulse. “EMPEROR” could be a nod to the GTA’s Scientology-esque Epsilon Program, which names a “religious emperor” in its informational pamphlet. Or maybe that’s just a red herring. After all, what color does your iFruit become when you call Black Cellphones? That’s right: “emperor black.”