Anyone doubting the legitimacy of video games as an industry or medium has almost nothing left to stand by, with the release of the newest Grand Theft Auto game raking in over a billion dollars in its first three days.

The figures make GTA5 quite likely the biggest launch in entertainment history - outstripping every film, album, book or television show ever made.

Surprisingly the figures come as analysts see a decline in video game sales, driven by people holding off for unreleased consoles and spending more money on in-game purchases rather than entire new games.

The latest edition in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, ‘GTA5’, has been released for consoles only but still managed to shift around 14 million copies in its first 24 hours. Sales are expected to continue steadily to around 25 million units before the end of the year.

The game franchise has attracted plenty of criticism for allowing players freedom to do whatever they can imagine within the bounds of a massive cityscape. Players can buy guns, steal cars and engage in a myriad of illicit activities.

Elements that have been given less publicity are the in-game thrills of buying property, stocks, driving a taxi, playing sport, going on dates, exercising, dancing, dressing up, and dozens of other perfectly legal activities.

The franchise is almost always one of the first to be attacked after the real-life tragedy of shootings and other crimes, though they may be stronger symptoms of mental illness than of video game exposure.

The massive influx of sales pushed game-maker Take-Two Interactive Software’s shares up 1.2 per cent to $US17.20. The stock has seen a steady climb of about 12 per cent since July, when it improved its fiscal 2014 forecast and excitement grew around the game's release.

The game has also been one of the most expensive productions in history, reportedly costing $200 million to develop over the last five years.