Crime pays for GTA in the UK

Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto franchise is breaking just about every sales record that exists for console games in the UK.

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Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has become the fastest selling game in the UK ever, with an unprecedented figure of more than 250,000 copies flying off store shelves in its first two days on sale. To put that figure in perspective, the previous record was held by Konami's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty , which sold more than 120,000 copies in the same amount of time.

At the same time, Grand Theft Auto III, which took two weeks to sell its first 100,000 copies, has just become the first ever million-selling video game in the UK--just over a year after it was released there. After 55 weeks in the ChartTrack sales charts, the game is still at number 10 in the all formats chart after slipping down from seventh position when Vice City arrived in stores. Grand Theft Auto III will be the first game ever to receive the ELSPA (European Leisure Software Publishers Association) Diamond Million Seller Award, and its successor is unsurprisingly being tipped to earn the same award within an even shorter space of time.

According to ELSPA, there are a number of other British-developed games on the brink of selling a million copies in the UK, including Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty , Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. ELSPA is also predicting that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which is scheduled for release later this month, could be one of the next games to achieve million-seller status.

"This year has been the industry's best yet in terms of sales and this Christmas we expect to smash all previous records," said Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA. "Smash-hit titles such as GTAIII and Harry Potter have helped to drive the market to new heights and it is interesting to see also that our chart of the best sellers ever is also buoyed by perennial favorites like Tomb Raider and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. It goes to show that the very best products just keep on selling to each new generation of gamer. It also demonstrates that the best-sellers cover all genres and are aimed at different audiences, from school kids and Harry Potter fans to adult males who enjoy fast-paced games such as GTAIII. It is also exciting to see that of our top ten best-sellers of all time, eight are from British based studios, a testament to the strength and creativity of UK games developers and publishers."

"It is vital not to underestimate the value that the games industry brings both culturally and in terms of money and jobs to the UK," Bennett continued. "Unfortunately there is also a tendency for some people to see only the negative and to accuse games of overt violence and corruption of young people. Let's be quite clear about this: Games such as GTAIII and Vice City are aimed at an adult audience. They are clearly labeled as being suitable for 18 years and over. These games make up a very small percentage of all the games published in the UK."

For more information on the Grand Theft Auto games, check out our previous coverage of the series.

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