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GTA IV: The biggest game release in history

First of all, our apologies. We realise that expecting you to put down GTA IV to read this feature is an affront in the extreme - You're at work? Yeah right -  but do you realise just how significant an event you're actually partaking in today? You see, you're not just playing a videogame. Right now you're involved in making history. Tell that to your boss whenever you go back in.

Because GTA IV isn't just a big deal because it's brilliant. Rather, its release is a major landmark in the ongoing evolution of gaming. We're not going to bang on again about the in-game detail, the sumptuous scripting or the fact that it has a sense of place you could drown in. You know about that first-hand now, and if not then you soon will. No, aside from all of that, GTA IV's release is the biggest leap yet in gaming's ongoing rise to media supremacy. Let's break it down.

  • Amazon.com expects to ship more copies of GTA IV than Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 and Transformers on DVD. That's a game outselling the two biggest movies of last year, despite costing three or four times more. Niche hobby? Ha!

  • According to Variety, GTA IV is forcast to make $400,000,000 in sales in its first week. To put that into context, the aforementioned Pirates threequel had the biggest opening week in Hollywood history and still only made $4 million more than that. Yes, games are more expensive than cinema tickets, but Niko Bellic matching Johnny Depp is still a massive deal.

  • Media analysts are predicting that GTA IV might well take a significant cut out of Iron Man's box office sales. And Iron Man looks incredible. Enough said.

And on top of all that, GTA IV has finally managed to court the mainstream press. Of course, there have been the usual dissenting voices as the game's launch has drawn nearer, but they've sounded increasingly anachronistic as the major news outlets have found themselves ever more impressed by Rockstar's opus.

The media frenzy centred around Halo 3 probably helped in making the mainstream press recognise games as the respectable cultural events they really are, and the superbly crafted content of GTA IV has provided the world's columnists with even more to get their teeth into. The Times, The Guardian and USA Today have all sung the game's praises and lauded it as a major evolution in entertainment, and unbelievably even Fox News has given it a glowing review; a far cry indeed from the blanket condemnation that the notorious bad boy of gaming used to suffer in less enlightened times. And when the obligatory moral debates have popped up they've been far less one-sided than we're used to.

Grand Theft Auto IV is an immensely positive turning point for gamers and gaming, and one which we should all celebrate. And on top of all that, it's currently one of the most rewarding experiences it's possible to have with a joypad. Today is the best day to be a gamer in living memory, and that's a fact you should revel in when you head back to your console in a few seconds time.

Go on then, off you go. We wouldn't dream of keeping you away from it any longer.

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