The video game franchise Grand Theft Auto is undoubtedly one of the most successful and well-known video games that ever existed. Apparently, playing as a criminal who sells drugs and steals cars is extremely popular among young gamers, and the sales numbers prove it.
The main purpose of the game is for the player to complete missions including selling and buying drugs, performing assassinations and even destroying/stealing cars. Understandably so, the game has caused a lot of global media controversy over the years. However, the developer/publisher of the series, Rockstar Games™, has a very interesting way of handling the controversy. Instead of shying away from it, they actually use the media to their advantage. Rockstar hired a very well-known PR professional, Max Clifford, to come up with an effective strategy.
Clifford’s approach towards the media is in my opinion genius. He goes by the ideology of ‘No publicity is bad publicity’. In an article for the Sunday Times, the creator of the original GTA game Matt Dailly says;
“He designed all the outcry, which pretty much guaranteed MPs would get involved… He’d do anything to keep the profile high.”
His provocative plan included planted stories and knowing which politicians and papers could provide the game with free press fuelled by outrage.
Although it can be argued that this practice is unethical because of the content of the game, I believe that this is an excellent method of gathering media coverage and racking up sales. Afterall, the latest of the franchise release, GTA 5, has shattered the record for the most profitable game franchise ever released.