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GTA: Ranking each game based on how controversial they have been

(image credits: pennlive)
(image credits: pennlive)
Rahul Bhushan
Modified 23 Oct 2020, 13:56 IST

There's never been a time the GTA franchise hasn't faced any controversy during the release of each game. Rockstar Games takes pride in pushing the envelope when it comes to gaming, for what is considered acceptable in the video gaming society.

It is undeniable that the GTA games have been a trailblazer, both in terms of the game's design and writing. No game in the GTA franchise has gotten off scot-free, but some have caused a stir more than the others. Here, we rank the games based on how controversial they have been.

Ranking the GTA games based on how controversial they have been

Note: Only the mainline entries in the series have been taken into consideration, as they were the ones that received the maximum amount of attention.

6) Grand Theft Auto IV

Rockstar's prized franchise, GTA, took a massive creative left turn, and as a result, the publisher faced a backlash from a usual source. GTA's fanbase had turned on Rockstar to alter the series' tone, especially the more grounded and realistic controls.

The community wasn't onboard with Rockstar's new creative direction, sharing the same on the internet. Despite this, the game is still the highest-rated title in the series on Metacritic.

GTA IV also received major criticism from Mothers Against Drunk Driving's (MADD) in the US. Their criticism stemmed from the ability to drink and drive as a new feature.


MADD had even requested ESRB to change the game's rating from "M" for ages seventeen and up to "AO" for adults only. They felt it was inappropriate for children, even at the age of seventeen, to experience drunk driving in such a manner.

5) GTA Vice City

GTA Vice City wasn't the first game in the series to be labeled "tame." It was still every bit as violent and controversial as the games that had come before. However, the criticism against Vice City came from its depiction and supposed encouragement of violence against certain ethnicities.

One mission in particular, in which the player had to instigate a gang war between the Haitian and Cuban gangs, has spiked controversy. As a result, the Haitian and Cuban anti-defamation groups criticized the game.

Certain lines from the game's script were highlighted, such as "Kill the Haitian d***heads" said by characters in the game. After the groups threatened litigation, Rockstar removed the word "Haitians" from the particular phrase in the game's subtitles.

4) GTA San Andreas


GTA San Andreas received plenty of criticism for its content, including the depiction of imagery that resembled the '92 LA Riots. Adding to that, the game was removed from the shelves due to a mod that unlocked a sexual mini game buried deep within the game files.

Dubbed the "Hot Coffee Mod," a reference to CJ's girlfriend inviting him into her house for "hot coffee." The mod managed to anger just about everyone, and Rockstar was forced to patch the mod and remove the game files altogether.

However, the damage was already done as sales suffered, only momentarily, as it went on to become the highest-selling game on the PS2.

3) Grand Theft Auto I and II

The original Grand Theft Auto and its sequel gained a tonne of notoriety across the globe and marked the arrival of the Houser siblings as grade-A provocateurs in the gaming industry.

The games were undeniably violent, and thus a little push back was expected from a non-gaming audience. The level of violence present in the game caused many countries to provide the game with a higher rating than usual for video games, with Brazil banning the game altogether.

In turn, the game gained more fame and caused the sales to increase tenfold than it usually would have. The GTA franchise had arrived on the scene, and the first two games were crucial in creating a 'dangerous' aura in the GTA series.

2) Grand Theft Auto V


It's the last entry in the GTA series. Fans are still debating on what the game managed to get right and what didn't. By the time Grand Theft Auto V was rolled out, fans were concerned whether Rockstar would begin to lose their touch when it comes to satire and quality of writing.

Most of those worries were laid to rest as GTA V did a great job of satire, for one mission in particular. The 'By the Book' mission, where the player must torture another man as Trevor using a number of brutal methods.

This was considered indefeasible even by GTA's fans and was a sign that perhaps Rockstar had begun to lose their touch. Several organizations, such as UK-based charity Freedom from Torture, publicly condemned the use of torture scenes in Grand Theft Auto V.

1) Grand Theft Auto III

Grand Theft Auto III will forever hold its place in gaming royalty as the game that brought the open-world structure to gaming on the scale that it did. However, it will also be remembered for terrifying parents and various activist groups across the world for the level of violence in the game.

Video games have been pretty violent in the past (think Doom), but none affected the audience as much as GTA III did. The country was in anger and called several aspects of the game into question.

The game supposedly 'encouraged' violence against policemen and was perceived as 'dangerous' for the younger generation. The conversation surrounding violence against women was also quite intense, as players could acquire the services of a prostitute and then murder her to recover their money.

A combination of all these criticisms led to GTA III gaining a level of notoriety never seen before in gaming.

Published 22 Oct 2020, 19:08 IST
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