The Grand Theft Auto 6 (GTA 6) hype train is officially here; it arrived with a bang, with the first official trailer earlier this week. And it’s likely to be with us in perpetuity, building momentum as we gather pace toward that 2025 release window.
The GTA 6 trailer has had such a massive impact, and the viewing numbers are just wild. I remember checking back a few times this week on the official Rockstar YouTube channel: 50 million views in just nine hours, around 80 million in 20 hours, 100 million in a day. It’s spectacular, and record-breaking stuff. That’s not even counting the views of the trailer that’s hosted on different channels or those with reactions and so on, either. For extra context, it’s got nearly 120 million now, at the time of writing, which is more than the Super Bowl had viewers.
As someone who missed out on GTA 5 for reasons (look, I was in a different career when it first came out, and even when I got into games media, it was just sort of there but had no pull on me), the trailer and the waves it and Rockstar have made with it have finally convinced me that my Christmas game this year just has to be GTA 5. Not in an ‘it might be a good one to play’ or ‘good idea’ to finally play it kind of way, but I absolutely must in order to make the most of and enjoy the cultural moment that we’re living in.
For context, I always try to have a Christmas game; a game almost put aside exclusively to play over the Holidays, be it something to really get my teeth into, something overdue, or even something seasonal. I’d already cycled through some choices, identifying several candidates from 2023 bangers I still needed to get back to, like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Dead Space remake, and Diablo 4, to others like a fresh, current-gen Witcher 3 replay, or even a new Skyrim playthrough on PlayStation 3.
Rockstar and a 90-second tease of GTA 6 have made my final decision for me, and have done so in a big, cultural one-two punch.
Feeling the cultural waves
The first hit of that punch is, simply, the cultural impact of a new GTA game and even just a new trailer. The waves this has sent out have absolutely dominated the gaming industry already and prove that the next GTA is just flat-out bigger than the other biggest games in the world, like the annual Call of Duty or EA Sports FC (formerly FIFA). It transcends games; this will be bigger than anything that came before and filter into the wider entertainment and news worlds. Heck, even the BBC used a GTA 6 graphic this week when covering a football result.
GTA being a huge cultural element is not news in itself to most, of course, but witnessing the chat, vibes, and cultural atmosphere change and bubble up with the trailer is something quite special, proving that GTA 6 is likely going to be the biggest and most bombastic (and probably most lucrative) entertainment launch in history.
The momentum and atmosphere following the trailer swept me up and got me hook, line, and sinker. The significance of the cultural moment that the trailer and this week’s fallout have become - and that the game will clearly be itself - a very tangible phenomenon that’s seriously infectious, eye-opening, and just downright exciting. It’s such an incredible cultural moment that is like no other, and the impact of it already makes me want to get embroiled in it and soak up every bit.
GTA 5 was, of course, its own gaming landmark and cultural phenomenon, but even though I was aware of its long-running success in terms of player numbers, sales, and its online element, it was essentially a ten-year-long (so far) cultural moment that passed me by. But there’s no way I’m letting GTA 6 pass me by in a similar way, and the first thing I can do to ensure that is to knuckle down and immerse myself in GTA 5 with a full playthrough and adventure in Los Santos this Christmas.
Belated tangible fandom
Secondly, such is the cultural explosion of even just the trailer I now actually feel like a fan already, and that’s why I now want, nay need, to commit to playing through GTA 5 this Christmas break. That’s a testament to the power of the game, series, Rockstar, and just a single trailer of not even two minutes.
To draw another connection with the above, like the cultural impact of GTA 5, I was aware of the fifth game and what it was from a ‘gamer’s’ perspective. But having never played it, there was nothing previously for me to be a fan of. I love open-world, action, and adventure games as much as the next person, sure, so it’s been a latent match made in heaven all along.
But now, I really do feel like a true fan who’s been playing GTA 5 for years and can’t wait to jump into GTA 6. I’m sure many previous GTA 5 players will be jumping back in now or in the run-up to the return to Vice City, but I feel fortunate enough to be doing so for the first time - and on the PlayStation 5 and all the enhancements that offers too.
As a bonus, by playing the fifth entry this Christmas, enough of a gap will be present before 2025 and GTA 6 that I will then genuinely be pining for more, itching to get back into some GTA action.
It might not be a festive Christmas game filled with snow or wintry feelings, and it certainly isn’t something I’m returning to out of nostalgia, but it fits the bill as one of the biggest games of the year (as it has been for every year in the past ten). But more importantly, I’m going to experience a hugely impactful title and entertainment phenomenon, all in preparation for another. Rockstar has finally made me commit to going the whole hog in Los Santos this festive season, and I can’t wait.
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Rob is Deputy Editor of TechRadar Gaming, a video games journalist, critic, editor, and writer, and has years of experience gained from multiple publications. Prior to being TechRadar Gaming's Deputy Editor, he was a longstanding member of GamesRadar+, being the Commissioning Editor for Hardware there for years, while also squeezing in a short stint as Gaming Editor at WePC before joining TechRadar Gaming. He is also a freelance writer on tech, gaming hardware, video games, gardens, and landscapes and is crowdfunding a book on video game landscapes that you can back and pre-order now too.