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The UK's best-selling Grand Theft Auto games | UK Time Tunnel

There are only three franchises bigger than Grand Theft Auto in the UK: FIFA, Call of Duty and Mario.

All three of those franchises feature dozens of entries stretching back decades. Whereas the GTA series boasts just seven mainline entries and a handful of spin-offs.

The franchise is comfortably bigger than LEGO, Star Wars and Pokémon, which sit in fifth, sixth and seventh place.

This is entirely based on revenue and only factors in physical game sales, with all data and statistics supplied by GfK.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is obviously the biggest of these titles. The game generated £94 million in revenue in just five days when it arrived back in September 2013, which was the same amount of revenue that GTA 4 managed in its lifetime. It has gone on to sell three times the number of copies of GTA 4 – and that’s purely based on physical sales, it doesn’t account for GTA 5’s success as a digital download.

Based on boxed sales alone, GTA 5 is comfortably the UK’s best-selling game of all time.

Despite initially launching as an Xbox 360 and PS3 game, GTA 5 has narrowly sold better as a PS4 and Xbox One title (PS4 and Xbox One arrived two months after GTA 5 launched, although the upgraded game wouldn’t release for another year). However, the game generated more revenue on its original machines (again, boxed sales alone, doesn’t include microtransactions or digital downloads).

But what about previous Grand Theft Auto games?

GTA first arrived on UK shelves in November 1997 on PC, and it wasn’t a huge hit (at first), only managing No.35 in the charts. The PS1 version appeared two weeks later and did better, but the game still only managed No.7. The biggest game at the time was a certain Tomb Raider 2, which was also on PS1 and PC.

As is usual with a new brand nobody had heard of, GTA wasn’t a huge launch, but it picked up over time. In fact, just 2% of GTA’s sales came from the first week. The top-down title went on to be a hit, although it was only a taste of what was to follow.

Before the second game arrived, an expansion to GTA launched in April 1999 set in London. GTA: London 1969 was a strong success, and sold almost a third of what the base game managed (which was required to play the game).

The second GTA was a bit of a step back for the series, at least commercially. The game released a bit later in the PS1 cycle (October 1999), but also had a Dreamcast version. However, it didn’t reach the lofty heights of its original. It reached No.8 during its opening week, at a time when Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace was ruling the UK charts.

The series really took off with the move to 3D and the release of Grand Theft Auto 3 in October 2001. GTA 3 sold more than the first two games combined. It was the first in the series to reach No.1 in the UK Top 40, beating Championship Manager 01/02 (which had been out for three weeks already). Over 91% of its sales were on PS2.

It was barely a year later when Grand Theft Auto: Vice City turned up and continued GTA’s journey to blockbuster status. It was once again No.1, ending FIFA 2003’s three-week run at the top of the charts. The PS2 version accounted for 94% of Vice City’s sales, and it is the fourth most successful individual SKU of a GTA game to-date.

GTA San Andreas arrived in 2004. A bigger game than its predecessors, it was also released on Xbox the following year, and as a result the PS2 version ‘only’ accounts for 89% of sales this time. San Andreas remains the second most successful GTA game in UK chart history. It ended FIFA 2005’s run at No.1 in the charts when it released on PS2, and then it returned to No.1 when it released on Xbox (forcing Star Wars Episode 3: Revenue of the Sith to settle for No.2).

Having dabbled with a GTA port on the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color in the past, Rockstar started developing original titles for handhelds. The first was a Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for PSP, which also later launched on PS2. It was a killer app for Sony’s handheld console, and sales were impressive (and not too far from what GTA 3 managed). Its sequel, Vice City Stories in 2006, didn’t fare quite so well, although remains one of the best-selling games on PSP.

Then came Grand Theft Auto 4 in April 2008. The game notably launched on Xbox 360 at the same time as PlayStation 3, and it was the Xbox version that performed better, with 54% coming on Microsoft’s console. The game didn’t quite live up to the success of San Andreas, but it still reached No.1, knocking the newly released Wii Fit down to No.2.

Two downloadable expansions were released for GTA 4, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony (initially on Xbox 360, before eventually coming to PS3 and PC). These were later combined together in as a physical release called Episodes From Liberty City in 2009, and could be played standalone. This title sold strongly and was only just behind the sales of the original 1997 GTA. So overall, the GTA 4 era for Rockstar continued the series’ upwards trajectory.

Also in 2009, but earlier in the year, Rockstar released an all-new GTA on the unlikeliest of platforms: Nintendo DS. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars saw the series return to its top-down routes, and it was critically acclaimed. However, it remains the lowest selling standalone GTA game so far. Part of this would be due to the younger demographic of the Nintendo DS audience, but the DS was also suffering from severe piracy issues at the time, which harmed sales of more ‘hardcore’ releases on the platform.

That takes us up to Grand Theft Auto 5. The game has now crossed three generations of platforms, having launched on PS5 and Xbox Series S and X in 2022, almost nine years after its original launch.

There has been plenty of GTA in that time, however, with constant updates to GTA Online. And there was the release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition in 2021, which saw GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas launch on a Nintendo platform for the first time.

The GTA 6 launch in 2025 will mark 28 years since the original GTA was released, and the series couldn’t be in a stronger place.

UK Best-Selling Physical Grand Theft Auto games (GfK)

Position Title Platforms First Released
1 Grand Theft Auto 5 PS3, PS4, PS5, 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, PC September 2013
2 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, PC October 2004
3 Grand Theft Auto 4 PS3, Xbox 360, PC April 2008
4 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City PS2, PC November 2002
5 Grand Theft Auto 3 PS2, PC October 2001
6 Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories PSP, PS2 October 2005
7 Grand Theft Auto PS1, PC, GBA, GBC November 1997
8 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories PSP, PS2 October 2006
9 Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City Xbox 360, PS3, PC October 2009
10 Grand Theft Auto 2 PS1, PC, Dreamcast, GBC October 1999
11 Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 PS1, PC April 1999
12 Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars DS, PSP March 2009

Other releases: GTA/GTA London (PC), GTA/GTA2 (PS1), GTA Triple Pack (PS1), GTA: Collector’s Edition (PS1), GTA: Double Pack (PS2, Xbox), GTA: The Trilogy (Xbox, PS2, Mac), GTA 4: Completed Edition (Xbox 360, PC, PS3), GTA The Trilogy: Definitive Edition (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, PC)

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