Grand Theft Auto’s 


By Matthew Byrd

The Grand Theft Auto franchise may be one of gaming's biggest blockbusters, but the series' success has attracted a number of notable controversies.

1997's Grand Theft Auto was promoted via planted newspaper articles that exaggerated the game's violence. It was an early example of intentionally generating outrage to sell a game.

Released about a month after 9/11, GTA 3 drew controversy over the belief the game encouraged acts of terrorism. In truth, its developers made many changes to the game in response to 9/11.

The ability to hire and murder sex workers became one of GTA 3's biggest early controversies. Some of the game's critics at the time insisted that players had to perform this act to "score points."

GTA: Vice City was called out by various groups over the belief it encouraged violence against immigrants in Miami. Rockstar changed several lines of dialog in response to this outcry.

GTA's biggest controversy has to be San Andreas' Hot Coffee mod: a program that revealed there was a “sex simulation” minigame in San Andreas' source code.

The fallout of Hot Coffee was stunning. Rockstar had to pull copies of the game in response to the backlash in order to remove the files in question. It changed the company and the franchise.

Notable gaming attacker Jack Thompson tried to prevent the sale of GTA 4 before it was even released. The attempt resulted in a settlement that prevented Thompson from suing publisher Take-Two again.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wanted GTA 4 to get an Adults Only rating due to the ability to drive drunk in the game. Rockstar insisted that was a very small part of the game.

GTA 5 attracted widespread controversy over a mission that made players torture someone for information. Even fans of the game questioned whether this scene glorified the act of torture.

Beyond specific controversies, GTA has always faced scrutiny for its violence, sexism, and satirical humor. We'll have to wait and see whether GTA 6 changes these elements of the franchise.