GTA was voted the game least likely to succeed by its own study, and they explain why

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Grand Theft Auto V was a landmark release for Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games, but some creators of the GTA series weren’t always too optimistic about its future, as they once deemed it a “highly unlikely” success.

In an interview with BBC 5, GTA 2 producer Colin Macdonald described the early years of working at DMA Design, now Rockstar North, and how the first GTA game, back in 1997, didn’t have the most favorable prospects. At the time, Macdonald said they were working on seven projects, and that a survey of DMA staff showed which games the studio considered would be the most and least successful.

In the 90s, GTA's future looked a little bleaker.

“The most voted not to succeed was Grand Theft Auto,” said Macdonald. “This is because, halfway through development, the direction of the game wasn’t clear. Also, it was quite buggy – you couldn’t play for more than a couple of minutes without it crashing, so of course, on a popular level, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in him.”

Macdonald went on to explain how a GTA with problems “it wasn’t really well regarded for most of the time it was in production” and went through many iterations. The first pieces of the saga started from an experimental project, in which the players roamed around like a dinosaur destroying buildings. Later, DMA added cars to the game and changed their focus.

GTA’s messy rise in the 1990s to its current successes is chronicled in BBC 5’s seven-part podcast series, Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game. Macdonald, and the recording in general, go on to describe a GTA team far removed from today’s vision, but who still knew they “had something special.”

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Despite those early signs of failure, GTA has been a historic success for Take-Two Interactive and the video game industry in general. In 2013, GTA V reached a record $1 billion in retail sales within its first three days of release, making it the fastest entertainment product to reach that milestone. And earlier this month, Take-Two announced that GTA has sold more than 385 million units as a franchise, 170 million of which are GTA V.

Fans are eagerly awaiting the next Grand Theft Auto game, which Rockstar has confirmed is currently in development, though the game has been plagued by high-level leaks.