Grand Theft Auto: Controversy surrounds the popular gaming series

Screengrab from the trailer of the sixth game in the Grand Theft Auto series (Rockstar)
Screengrab from the trailer of the sixth game in the Grand Theft Auto series (Rockstar)

Grand Theft Auto VI has been confirmed as the next instalment in the hugely popular video game series, ending years of speculation about the franchise.

Publisher Rockstar Games confirmed the game would be released in 2025 as it revealed the first trailer for the title, which also confirmed the series would be returning to the Miami-inspired location of Vice City.

The announcement sparked widespread response on social media, and the trailer has already been viewed more than 55 million times on YouTube in the hours since its release, highlighting the enduring popularity of the series.

Created in the UK by David Jones and Mike Dailly, its development is now overseen by Rockstar, and the open-world adventure games are regularly praised for their scale and depth, with modern games featuring entire regions of a fictional United States, complete with multiple cities and the surrounding areas all fully explorable to players.

Since the release of the original game, Grand Theft Auto, in 1997, the series has been critically acclaimed but also hugely controversial because of what many critics feel is its glorification and excessive use of violence, with a number of countries condemning or even banning the game and warning of its potential ability to corrupt players.

Concerns reappeared with Grand Theft Auto III, launched in 2001, when the game began using 3D graphics for the first time, heightening the realism of the violence.

The series was criticised again for its focus on illegal activities, rather than more heroic quests players carried out in other games.

But despite this, the series continued to be a runaway commercial success, and the jump to 3D graphics for its open-world environment was hailed as a watershed moment in gaming.

Each of the games released since then have all included controversial elements, including what some have claimed are overly glamourous depictions of gang warfare and general criminality, as well as hidden sexual minigames and the ability for players to drink-drive.

The most recent full game in the series, 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V, was also criticised for including graphic torture scenes that had to be carried out in order for players to progress in a mission.

But despite these concerns the series has become a key cultural reference point for many, with the games also well-known for their satirical humour which often pokes fun at many aspects of modern life.

In 2006, the series was voted one of Britain’s top 10 designs as part of the BBC and Design Museum’s Great British Design Quest, appearing in the list alongside Concorde and the World Wide Web.

And it has been an unprecedented commercial success, shipping more than 410 million units across the franchise, making it one of the best-selling video game series of all time – sitting alongside the Fifa football game series, war-based series Call Of Duty and long-running franchises such as Pokemon and Tetris.

The best-selling instalment of the series, Grand Theft Auto V, is the second best selling game ever, with more than 190 million copies sold.