TODAY   |  September 22, 2013

Sales for ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ top $1 billion

The latest game in the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise rolled out last week, and the record-setting launch catapulted the popular and controversial game of cops and robbers into a category all its own. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in just three days the video game " grand theft auto 5 " has pulled in more than $1 billion in sales. a highly an tis pated sequel.

>> with its very violent scenes and adult schemes, should kids be playing.

>> reporter: the gaming world sped into new territory this week with the latest installment of the " grand theft auto " raking in a record $1 billion.

>> this is the first grand theft auto in a few years.

>> the notoriously violent adventure fans can't get enough of.

>> when did you get it? tuesday.

>> the same day it came out.

>> it's like playing a 40-hour-long crime movie , sex drugs and rock and roll , baby.

>> gamers are sharing virtual high fives, tips and strategies on youtube.

>> how to start an illegal street race .

>> reporter: one gaming editor played for 38 hours straight and said there are new twists along with the violence the game is known for.

>> things could get really messy.

>> it's a very over-the-top, very cartoonish representation of southern california and of crime and violence.

>> please don't make me ruin all the great work your plastic surgeons have been doing.

>> reporter: one child strolth says despite the mature 17 rating, many younger teens are playing this violent game.

>> what happens is younger teens, kids get their hands on it and aren't able to decipher the messages being put out there.

>> reporter: meanwhile sales are soaring, the $1 billion so far is more than the annual gross domestic product of some nations. the latest profits also blow away the top weekly box office sales. while the cost of making the game, an estimated $250 million, is as much as a blockbuster movie .

>> you should think of it as a new martin scorsese movie or the finale of "breaking bad." this is an adult experience, very adult themes.

>> reporter: a cultural shift and a sign you'll likely see the next " grand theft auto " coming up fast on the road ahead. for "today," michelle franzen , nbc news new york.