With only hours to go, Grand Theft Auto V is being tipped to be the fastest selling game of all time, potentially taking the title from Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Rockstar has allocated a staggering 3 million copies for the UK launch alone, meaning if they all sell, 2 per cent of the UK population will have snapped up the game.
Games stores are opening into the early hours of Monday morning especially for the launch, with Grand Theft Auto V officially going on sale at midnight.
Rob Crossley, who is associate editor of gaming news site CVG, said if Rockstar was correct in its sales estimates, the launch allocation would mean around a quarter of all combined Xbox 360 and PS3 owners would be buying the new title.
Fans are expected to be queuing in cities and shopping centres around the country to get their hands on a copy. For gamers, it is the equivalent of a new James Bond film hitting movie theatres, or a new JK Rowling novel being released.
But some Grand Theft Auto fans haven’t had to wait.
Rockstar has launched an investigation after some Amazon customers have already received their copies of Grand Theft Auto V, days before the game’s official street date. And, other retailers across Europe are reported to already have the title on their shelves.
Worried an early release could dilute the excitement surrounding the game, Rockstar said it is “in the process of investigating early ‘sales’ to determine how and why that is occurring”.
The latest in the Grand Theft Auto franchise is Rockstar’s biggest and most ambitious game yet, with a fictional world bigger than that of the rest of the series put together. And, you follow not one, but three criminals, as they steal, shoot, shop, and ‘romance’ their way through the game.
It’s taken four years to develop at an estimated cost of £87m, even before any marketing activity was carried out.
Even the soundtrack is set to be explosive. The game is set in the fictional city of Los Santos, which has 15 radio stations to choose from. Music will be a mix of tracks from established artists including Aphex Twin and Outkast, along with songs written especially for the blockbuster.
Soundtrack supervisor Ivan Pavlovich said: “15 music radio stations, two talk radio stations, 240 licensed songs, and somewhere in the proximity of 20 movies worth of score. It’s the largest soundtrack that we’ve done and the largest score that we’ve done.”
Nick Underdown, who created the fan site Rockstar Resource, said despite Grand Theft Auto’s controversial reputation, fans’ love affair with the game continued not just because of its lawless theme. “A lot of the things people are looking forward to don’t involve any criminal activity at all,” he said, “and a lot of the fun will come from the racing, parachuting, playing golf or tennis and all the other sports on offer. And, it seems like a small thing, but the soundtrack is so important, it plays a massive part in the setting.”