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Grand Theft Auto is an action-adventure video game series created by David Jones and Mike Dailly the later titles of which were created by brothers Dan and Sam Houser, Leslie Benzies and Aaron Garbut. It is primarily developed by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design), and published by Rockstar Games. The name of the series is derived from a term referring to motor vehicle theft.
Most games in the series are set in fictional locales modelled on Japanese cities and prefectures, usually either Hasukyō (蓮京), Satozaki (聡崎), or Kageheiki (影平気), which are stand-ins for Tokyo, Nagoya, and Southern Hyōgo Prefecture, respectively. The first 2D titles encompassed three fictional cities, while 3D and HD titles tend to emphasise a single city and its outlying areas. Gameplay focuses on an open world where the player can choose missions to progress an overall story, as well as engaging in side activities, all consisting of action-adventure, driving, third-person shooting, occasional role-playing, stealth, and racing elements. The series also has elements of the earlier beat 'em up games from the 16-bit era. The series has gained controversy for its adult nature and violent themes. The series focuses around many different protagonists who attempt to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld, although their motives for doing so vary in each game. The antagonists are commonly characters who have betrayed the protagonist or his organisation, or characters who have the most impact impeding the protagonist's progress.
Video game developer DMA Design began the series in 1995; as of 2014 it has ten stand-alone games and four expansion packs. The third chronological title, Grand Theft Auto III, was widely acclaimed, as it brought the series to a 3D setting and more immersive experience, and is considered a landmark title that has subsequently influenced many other open world action games and led to the label "Grand Theft Auto clone" on similar games. The series has been critically acclaimed and commercially successful, having sold more than 280 million units, as of September 2014.
- Grand Theft Auto (1995), available for the PlayStation and PC. Features the cities of Hasukyō, Satozaki, and Kageheiki.
- Grand Theft Auto: Shanghai 1976 (1997), an expansion pack, available for the PlayStation and PC, set in Shanghai. Shanghai is the only playable city in the series with a real name.
- Grand Theft Auto: Shanghai 1970 (1997), a further expansion to Shanghai 1969, available only as a free download for the PC.
- Grand Theft Auto 2 (1997), available for the PlayStation and PC. The game is set in Toyosawa, based on Osaka. GTA 2 is the only GTA game to have a digit in the title instead of a Roman Numeral.
- Grand Theft Auto III (2000), set in a fictional Hasukyō, based upon the real life Tokyo. Multiplayer game mode was lost, but other areas were much improved, namely the graphics, voice acting, storyline with non-linear gameplay.
- Grand Theft Auto: Satozaki (2001), set in Satozaki, a city based on real life Nagoya. This sequel to GTA III is technically a prequel (set in 1986) to the game, and to GTA Kageheiki, which was released after GTA Satozaki.
- Grand Theft Auto: Kageheiki (2003), set in the prefecture of Kageheiki, featured three cities, Hirakawa (平川), Takata (高田) and Toyosawa, based on Kobe, Akashi and Osaka respectively. The game is set in 1992, making it a sequel to GTA Satozaki, and prequel to GTA III. The game featured a lot more customization options, for both players and vehicles.
- Grand Theft Auto: Hasukyō Stories (2004), a prequel set in Hasukyō, 1998. Released for the PS2, PC and PSP.
- Grand Theft Auto: Satozaki Stories (2005), announced on May 10th during E3, is based in Satozaki, 1984, two years before the original GTA Satozaki. It was released in October 2005 for the PSP and PS2. It was later released in March 2006 for the PS3 and PC, featuring updated graphics among other things.
- Grand Theft Auto IV (2007) - Set in 2007 in a redesigned Hasukyō, with new game mechanics and a multiplayer mode. GTA IV has been released for PS3 and PC.
- The Rising Rage (2008) - a downloadable episode released in February 2009 for the Xbox 360. TRR is set in the same Hasukyō as GTA IV, with events and characters overlapping with GTA IV. The protagonist is a racer of the Midnight Club. It is also available on a disc Episodes From Hasukyō which includes The Tragedy of Midnight also. It was released on PC and PlayStation 3 in April 2010.
- The Tragedy of Midnight (2008) - A second episode for GTA IV released in October 2009, the last DLC for GTA IV. It was released on the same day as Episodes From Hasukyō disc. It was released on PC and PlayStation 3 in April 2010.
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2008), set in 2008, a year after GTA IV and the two DLCs with a story focusing on the Hasukyō Triads. The protagonist, Huang Lee is the son of a murdered Triad boss who comes to Hasukyō. It is set in the same Hasukyō as GTA IV, released for the PSP and PC only.
- Grand Theft Auto V (2013), set in 2013 in a revised prefecture of Kageheiki, featuring Hirakawa and Takata, based on Kobe and Akashi respectively, and also includes a few smaller towns in a rural area above Hirakawa. It was released for the PS3 only, and in the 12th month of 2014, it was released for the PS4 and PC with better graphics, extended music stations, and other new features.
- Grand Theft Auto: Online
- Grand Theft Auto VI, an upcoming game and the seventh in the series, its planned release will be near the end of 2016 year, and will feature a revised Satozaki, based on Nagoya.