Grand Theft Auto IV is being released today, and is expected to be one of the biggest video game releases to date. Many are even speculating that Hollywood itself is shaking in its boots, seeing how people may choose to get the game and play it over going out and seeing what is the summer's first big film release, "Iron Man". "This will be the first major release in what is considered Hollywood's summer movie period, and if there's any title that could put a dent in box office for a major movie, it's Grand Theft Auto," says Victor Lucas, host and producer of TV's Electric Playground.
The game is projected to earn over $400 million in its first week alone. "This is one of the biggest franchises in the history of the industry, so it's going to be one of the biggest weeks we've ever seen," adds Jason Anderson of Xbox Canada. "If those guys (in Hollywood) are smart, they'll be keeping an eye on us." To further the sales, the game is being released on PlayStation 3 as well as the Xbox 360. When halo was released, it earned $300 million in its first week, and is thought to have brought down sales of Ben Stiller's "Heartbreak Kid", which was released the same week.
Amidst the excitement of the release, there is also the usual backlash that comes with the release of a violent video game. It is already being blamed for two dozen people that were shot last weekend in Chicago. A Fox News affiliate in the city ran a story blaming the violence specifically on GTA IV ads on the side of city buses. "I expect it because we've had so much of it in the past," Rockstar founder Dan Houser said at a recent game demonstration in North America. "I wish people would treat video games the same as other media. They seem to not want to do that for reasons that I don't understand. It's a convenient enemy for people."
"The GTA franchise pushes the limits, part of the appeal is that it shocks you, takes you by surprise, and gamers would be disappointed if it didn't," says Geoff Keighley, host of GameTrailers TV. "But that makes it a lightning rod for criticism, and because it's so popular, mainstream media keeps circling it, looking for a way to tear it apart. I know when the game comes out, there'll be one item - drunk driving or a controversial cutscene - that'll get blown out of proportion. What's interesting is that if Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez were to have some of the same action in their movies, they'll be heralded, but if Grand Theft Auto does it, it's somehow corrupting the youth of America."