The Grand Theft Auto series has sold 250 million total units since its debut in 1997, with Rockstar Games' most recent crime epic, Grand Theft Auto 5, having shipped 70 million units across all platforms.

The eye-watering figures emerged from Rockstar Games' parent company Take-Two Interactive, during a quarterly investor call. The overall sales number means that even the combined all-time sales of classic gaming franchises such as Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter and Tomb Raider pale next to the success of the open-world behemoth.

Beginning with the original Grand Theft Auto for PC and later Sony's PSOne, the franchise has enjoyed six main-series sequels and multiple spin-offs in the space of almost two decades.

In that time, Rockstar's co-founders Dan and Sam Houser have transported players to fictionalised versions of New York, California and Miami, defining the modern concept of 'sandbox' video game design in the process.

With a whopping 70 million units shipped, Grand Theft Auto 5 easily beats out former top sellers San Andreas and GTA 4 as the highest selling game in the series – partly thanks to its release across a multitude of platforms.

GTA 5 was originally released in September 2013 on PS3 and Xbox 360 before it was later to PS4 and Xbox One in November 2014. Finally, PC players joined the fray in April 2015.

In May, Take-Two Interactive announced that GTA 5 had shipped 65 million units, meaning the title has taken another monumental leap forward in just a few months. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick credited part of the success to the "on-going, robust demand for Grand Theft Auto V," which is due in no small part to the continued popularity of Grand Theft Auto Online.

GTA 5's free multiplayer portion has proven to be an enormous hit for Take-Two and Rockstar, both in terms of its ever-dedicated user-base and revenue via in-game purchases. At last count in April, GTA Online had reportedly raked in $500m (£401m) through microtransactions alone.

Part of the sustained popularity of GTA Online can be credited to Rockstar's continued support through major updates – its last being the hefty 'Bikers' update in September.

Take-Two also revealed during the investor call that Hanger 13's GTA-like title Mafia 3 has shipped 4.5 million copies, making it the fastest selling game ever for subsidiary company 2K Games.

As for Rockstar, the legendary developer has turned its attention away from Liberty City to transport players back to the Old West in its gun-slinging sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2. The follow-up to the studio's beloved 2010 classic is set to arrive on PS4 and Xbox One in Autumn 2017.

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