Before you answer the question, bear in mind that Grand Theft Auto has undergone some fundamental changes.
In Grand Theft Auto III (not the first GTA, but the first that started the phenomenon, as it was 3D open-world), I don't think anyone cared much about the story. We were all just mesmerized by the size of that virtual world and the sheer amount of freedom we enjoyed. It was almost unparalleled and a definite revolution. If you ask people today to explain the plot, I doubt anyone could in any detail. Heck, the main character you controlled didn't even have a name. Wasn't he just "The Guy?"
Vice City stepped things up a bit in the story department, as it essentially stole from "Scarface." Well, sorta. I'm not implying that Rockstar lifted the idea, but the influences were obvious, especially in regards to the mansion you end up living in. Tommy Vercetti was a cool character, too, and Ray Liotta brought him to life. San Andreas had an even more complex story with even more characters, but gamers could still just run around and wreak havoc if they so chose. And it was still wicked fun to do. I still like to throw in Vice City every now and then, just to terrorize the streets in my tank. That just never stops being fun.
But GTAIV brought about that aforementioned fundamental change and Rockstar went grittier and more realistic. Many didn't like the change and while I missed a lot of the wacky craziness from previous entries, I still loved GTAIV. However, love it or hate it, the path has been clear since then- Grand Theft Auto V will take that premise to the next level and lo and behold, we've got three protagonists this time around, each with his own back story and adventure. Furthermore, those three plot lines must intersect, so it must've been a challenge for the writers.
Therefore, it seems that we really should care about the story in GTAV. I think I will. But is this what the long-time fans are looking for…? Or will GTA forever be associated with running around beating people with baseball bats? The stereotype should be dead by now, but…
Related Game(s): Grand Theft Auto V