New Grand Theft Auto tipped for record sales
One of the most eagerly-anticipated video game releases is expected to smash sales records after going on sale worldwide today.
Stores across the UK opened their doors at midnight for the special launch of Grand Theft Auto V, which reportedly cost around £170 million to make and market - more than films such as Avatar.
Online retailer Amazon has already sold out of the game which cost more to make than many Hollywood blockbusters and, in certain circles, generated a similar hype.
Experts estimate it could generate £1 billion during its first year on sale when gamers are predicted to snap up some 25 million copies – breaking current records.
A Gift Voucher for a 2 hour SUP lesson on any of our programmed dates between April and September 2014. £19.50 for 1 person or £33 for 2 people with this voucher
Terms: Voucher must be present at point of sale. Standard MBC T's & C's apply please see our website for details
Contact: 01752 404567
Valid until: Tuesday, December 24 2013
It has received rave reviews from critics across the board who have labelled it “one of the very best video games ever made”.
Keza MacDonald, games editor at IGN.com, said: “Grand Theft Auto V is not only a preposterously enjoyable video game, but also an intelligent and sharp-tongued satire of contemporary America."
“It represents a refinement of everything that GTA IV brought to the table five years ago. It’s technically more accomplished in every conceivable way, but it’s also tremendously ambitious in its own right.
“No other world in video games comes close to this in size or scope, and there is sharp intelligence behind its sense of humour and gift for mayhem. It tells a compelling, unpredictable, and provocative story without ever letting it get in the way of your own self-directed adventures through San Andreas.
“It is one of the very best video games ever made.”
But the launch of the latest iteration in the Grand Theft Auto series has not gone as smoothly as planned.
The Scottish creator Rockstar has launched an investigation into whether copies of the game were dispatched days ahead of its official release.
Some gamers claimed to have received their copies as early as Friday following Amazon deliveries.
Fans expressed their delight on Twitter where one user wrote: “THANK YOU MUM AND AMAZON GTA 5 HERE TODAY SO F****** EXCITED”.
Another joked: “I refuse to disclose whether Amazon has dispatched my pre-order copy of GTA early in case it prevents them from doing so again in the future”.
Edinburgh-based Rockstar said it was looking into how any copies of the game may have been released early.
“We are in the process of investigating early ‘sales’ to determine how and why that is occurring,” a spokesman told the Games Industry International website.
In a message on its website, Amazon warned any orders placed after last Friday may not arrive until after today’s release date because of high demand.
It said: “Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360)--Stock Update. Please note--due to high demand, orders placed for Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360) from September 13 will be shipped as soon as we receive inventory.”
Tom Butler, social media editor of gaming site IGN.com, said thousands of workers have taken the day off for the launch or plan on calling in sick.
“Grand Theft Auto V will be the biggest entertainment launch of the year and possibly all-time with levels of consumer anticipation outstripping Harry Potter and Twilight,” he said.
“With gamers queuing at midnight to be among the first to play and the developer boasting thousands of hours of game play, there’s no surprise that we’re likely to see an outbreak of GTA flu this September.”
The gaming site polled 10,995 readers to ask whether they would take time off work today when the GTA V goes on sale.
According to its findings, 5,059 readers (46%) said they booked the day off as holiday.
Another 2,012 (19%) said they would phone in claiming to be unwell while 3,884 (35%) said they would wait to get their hands on the game.
The Grand Theft Auto series has accumulated sales of 135 million copies since its 1997 debut. GTA IV has reportedly sold more than 25 million copies since its 2008 release.
Fans burst into the Stratford, east London, branch of GAME - one of the chain's 300 stores which opened at midnight - following a countdown last night.
They were led in by Londoner Zohair Ali, the first in the queue to pick up a copy at the flagship shop at Westfield Stratford City.
Mr Ali punched the air in delight while other gamers rushed to the tills to buy their copies.
“I’m really excited now that I’ve got it in my hands,” one fan said.
“Being one of the biggest games of the year, it’s going to be one of them I’m on for a long time.”
Kevin McFeely, from GAME, said the company opened as many branches as it “physically could” last night.
“Our customers really want to get their hands on this game,” he said.
“People are just really excited in terms of the things that they can do on GTA that they could never do before.”
One GAME staff member described scenes inside the crowded shop as “chaos”.
A similar hype was evident online, where GTA players posted images of themselves with the new game.
User Daniel Son wrote: “Got my copy of GTA! Ready to load up this bad boy.”
Dave Callan added: “GTA is going to make holidays to LA feel fairly mundane.”
Another user wrote: “I’ve waited patiently for five years but these past few hours have gone by very slowly. Soon I will have GTA in my hands.”
Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist at financial spread betting firm ETX Capital, described GTA as a "British success story''.
“The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cadbury’s, Rolls-Royce... the list of some of the greatest British exports goes on and on,” he said.
“But not many believed a sandbox violent crime thriller video game series, Grand Theft Auto by RockStar Games, would become one of the latest entrants on that list.”
He predicted GTA V would follow the same blockbuster success of its predecessors in the series.
“Like it or not, GTA is a British success story as it has catapulted British game developers into the spotlight over the past decade,” he said.
“It’s also induced the growth of start-up game development companies in the UK who are looking to mimic the success of Rockstar.”