photo by Basimatic

In the years since Grand Theft Auto V launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in 2013, Rockstar has brought the game to PC, released an enhanced version for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and continued to evolve the shared open world of Grand Theft Auto Online. Those efforts have paid back in spades. This past May, Take-Two revealed Grand Theft Auto V has cracked the 80 million mark in units shipped, a lofty number only rivaled by games like Minecraft and Tetris.

Rockstar isn't alone in employing the strategy of re-releasing hit games and continuing to service its player base with expanded content – it's a common practice we see in other blockbusters like The Edler Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Diablo III. Yet GTA V alone continually appears in the monthly NPD list of top sellers, making the game an unrivaled success in the modern era. So what's the secret that keeps people coming back and compels new players to pick up the game? We asked Rockstar director of design Imran Sarwar. 

"We put that down to a combination of factors: at a fundamental level, there is this amazingly detailed, living open world that works for both a single-player story and a shared multiplayer experience," he says. "We put a huge amount of work into the single-player experience, and have subsequently put a huge amount into the multiplayer experience. Both have been both pretty evolutionary and polished. The other real strength of GTA Online is the diversity of the gameplay in the world. You can treat it like a traditional GTA world and explore on your own, or take a friend to the movies or play a game of tennis. Then there is the wide range of relatively structured activities like classic missions or Heists, through to running a business or forming a biker gang, or just attempting a few Free Mode challenges. And of course, at any moment you can jump in with friends (or strangers) and invent something of your own – creating your own metagames using props inside the world, teaming up to do a series of convenience store robberies or just stopping traffic to create carnage. We love checking out the latest crazy videos when people discover some new way to play in the world."

To read more of our interview with Sarwar, where he discusses the evolution and future of Grand Theft Auto Online, head here.