Q&A: GTAIV - Big or huge?

Analysts Michael Pachter and Evan Wilson weigh in on just how successful Rockstar's latest open-world mayhem maker will be.

335 Comments

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Expectations were high when Microsoft and Bungie released Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 on September 25. It was only mildly surprising, then, when Microsoft proclaimed a day after launch that the final installment in Halo's story arc, begun in 2001 on the original Xbox, had set North American entertainment sales records, selling some $170 million in product within 24 hours. Not a bad tally, considering it had unseated summer box-office spectacle Spider-Man 3's record-setting $151 million domestic opening-weekend haul from earlier in the year.

Bungie wasn't given long to bask in its unequivocal success before analysts began to balk at Halo 3's feat. Within two weeks of Microsoft's announcement, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey was postulating that Bungie would soon find its sales crown swiped by the criminal masterminds at Rockstar Games. Were Grand Theft Auto IV to land a similarly eye-popping attachment rate on par with Halo 3's--at the time, in excess of 40 percent--he conjectured, the cross-platform status of the game could spike first-week unit shipments to 9.5 million worldwide, or $466 million in sales. Those figures would constitute a significant premium over Halo 3's reported 5 million-unit, $300 million international opening-week debut.

With Take-Two now reportedly measuring out global preorder demand at 6 million units--or $400 million--it has become a forgone conclusion that GTAIV will do quite well for itself when it launches tomorrow.

"There is no question that GTA will be huge," Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter told GameSpot. "I think that the game will sell 11 to 13 million copies by calendar year end, with probably 4 million the first week and 6 million the first full month." While sales will initially favor the Xbox 360 edition of the game at a rate of three-to-two, Pachter predicted that as Sony's console continues to gain momentum, game sales will even out toward the end of the year to a roughly even split. By year's end, Pachter estimates 5 to 6 million PS3 owners will have picked up the game, yielding an attachment rate of 35 percent, and 6 to 7 million units headed to the Xbox 360 gamers, a 30 percent attach rate.

Pachter believes the game will have legs into next year, as well, as Microsoft and Sony continue to more deeply penetrate the market with their latest systems. "The attach rate is likely to slow a bit, so we should expect another 5 to 6 million units sold (unless the game is discounted)," Pachter said. "So I think lifetime sales will be 16 to 19 million."

While that may in fact constitute "huge," it would not best GTAIV's direct predecessor, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, according to Pacific Crest Securities analyst Evan Wilson. "I don't see any other game this year that has the sales potential of GTAIV. However, the real question is what console game can top San Andreas?" said Wilson to GameSpot. "San Andreas sold 21.5 million copies [globally]."

Regardless of whether GTAIV pulls a sales coup on its antecedent, Wilson believes gamers will flock in droves to GTAIV. Giving a quick and dirty rundown, Wilson told GameSpot, "Our initial assumptions for the game are 4.5 million worldwide in April. 8.5 million by the end of October. 10 million by the end of the year." In a note to investors this week, Wilson referenced the gushing nature of early reviews, and said he may have lowballed the actual year-end total by as much as 2 million units.

Certainly one of the biggest factors in Rockstar's corner is the substantially larger pool of customers GTAIV will enjoy over Halo 3. "In total, we estimate the US 360 installed base to be 3.5 million higher for GTA IV than it was for Halo's launch, or just over 50 percent," said Wilson. The PS3 adds another 4 to 4.5 million consoles to the GTA base." As such, though Wilson agrees with Pachter that the game will see a significantly lower attach rate than Halo 3--26 percent in the US, 20 percent globally in its first week--it will enjoy a superior opening-week sales tally of $550 million.

All said, Pachter believes that if GTAIV hits his sales estimate, Take-Two and Rockstar will see retail sales of roughly $720 million in 2008, assuming all games go for full price. That's a sizable slice of the pie, given Pachter's 2008 global gaming industry revenue estimates. "I expect US and European software sales to total $22.8 billion this year, so GTA represents 3.2 percent of all games sold."

As for when the next time a title will leave such a substantive imprint on the gaming industry, the prolific analyst was quite clear: "GTAV."

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xpider2

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GTA IV is not big... is HUGE!!! The game is freaking sweet!!!

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GonzoGuy

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Anyone who says that GTA4 is the most overrated and disappointing game of the year has obviously not tried No More Heroes. That one made me start renting again.

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alex_zander

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I think there are some more sequels to come before the GTAV, but its true, when Rockstar will be proud to present GTAV, then, we will have a new era, acompanied by our next gen consoles.

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_guenter_26

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robertino007 the ps2 couldnt handle the things htat gta4 have and stop living in the last-gen.

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robertino007

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This game has no place on the PS3, everything about it it's PS2. I hope within the month everybody will realize how disappointing the title is, compared with San Andreas. It's a shame! The worst game of the year, the biggest rip-off making the most money. I give my copy away for free saving somebody from wasting 60 bucks.

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nate1222

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GTAIV is going to sell really well. I don't think it'll sell like San Andreas did, though. For the simple fact that not as many people have bought 360s nor PS3s. PS2s are still in most homes - even those with Wiis, 360s and PS3s. So the potential consumer base is higher for PS2. I know some people who'd rather get a Wii or just stick with their PS2 than upgrade. I honestly don't blame them. While WE are 'gamers', most people ( about 50+ to every 1 of us) are 'casuals/cassies'. When we weigh these issues we should bare that in mind. Our crowd has too many 'egocentric nerds' thinking they're the center of the Universe.

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santiagochile

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"Be that it may, I'm happy to say that I support GTA IV mainly due to the fact 360 fans don't get left out this time, or won't have to wait 6 months to get thier version, I do hope GTA IV outsells the lame Mario Kart: Wii and stops the" Wii-fit."" Mario Kart Wii is one of the best racing games of all time. It uses an awesome, revolutionary control scheme that puts dual analog to rest for good, plus it has awesome, 12 player online. Games like Mario Kart Wii and MoHH2 are putting the nails in the coffin of dual analog. It's too bad that Rockstar is too lazy and cheap to make GTA Wii. It would be the best one. Thankfully EA is going to buy that lame company out and make EA presents GTA for the Nintendo Wii. As for Wii Fit, what are you too lazy to use it?? Sad. Wii Fit looks awesome, and the Wii board will be used in as many new, inventive and revolutionary ways in games as the Wiimote has been! There's a reason why the Wi is cleary no. 1 this generation, and not the PS3 or the 360.

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hilltops

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jrabbit99 Except GTA IV is coming out on PS3 and 360 as opposed to halo 3 which just came out on 360. Had Halo 3 come out on PS3 also, it would have done just as well. HAHAHAHA..Halo 3 came to ps3 no one would buy it..are you serious? Only lemmingz want this game???? this is so funny

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mpeg3s

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The 360 version is better!

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LindBergh2007

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GTA IV. will it sell? Yeah it will sell. Why? Because anything bearing it's name ensures strong sales. Not only that, but for the first time ever it won't be Playstation exclusive which gives 360 owners something to find solace for. What can I say? GTA is probably one of the most overatted series of all time. That's not saying it's bad. It's just saying that Americans and europeons thrive on violent games. Having played GTA III,Vice City,And San Andreas I don' consider them all that great, but rather consitant. Many people love GTA, and I'm one of the few that's not to fond of it.(Don't use the excuse that I'm a Sega fan that means that i'm jealous) even if GTA were to appear on a Sega console( and if it does in a few years) i'd probably still wouldn't care. People in Japan don't either, cause they have better titles like Yakuza and Ito to play. Back in my day, it was all about Mortal Kombat. Be that it may, I'm happy to say that I support GTA IV mainly due to the fact 360 fans don't get left out this time, or won't have to wait 6 months to get thier version, I do hope GTA IV outsells the lame Mario Kart: Wii and stops the" Wii-fit." As for how big will it be? I'm pretty sure it will be a blockbuster and sell millions this month but I don't think it will stay afloat long, pretty muh by the summer it will have dropped off the top spot. In closing, I would like to say this. Xbox 360 and PS3 owners are going to be pretty busy this spring with thier TPS, while kids will be playing thier lame overhyped Gamecube Mario Kartouble Dash port on Wii(I consider DD,64, and Super Mario Kart to be FAR better then the Wii version) and soccer moms will spend the spring trying to figure out whether they should spend $100 on losing weight on thier Wii, or save money for gas or instead vote for thier leader Hillary.

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darkride66

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SalarianChemist said "Playstation 3 hardware doesn't have a resolution upconversion chip, so the resolution is stuck at only 640p...that is quite a disappointment." I don't know about the "upconversion chip" thing, my PS3 seems to upconvert just fine with PS2 games and DVD's, but I the article that broke the 640p thing claimed that this was a good thing. It helped smooth over inconsistencies and make the PS3 version generally look smoother. That certainly doesn't sound disappointing to me. Also, I couldn't help but notice that every reviewer out there noted that, although both versions look great, the PS3 clearly has a visual edge. And yet somehow Gamespot managed to be the only one that took the opposite stance. Interesting...

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jrabbit99

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Except GTA IV is coming out on PS3 and 360 as opposed to halo 3 which just came out on 360. Had Halo 3 come out on PS3 also, it would have done just as well.

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jmartin1016

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GTA4 > Organized Religon - water into wine

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SalarianChemist

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It has now been confirmed that the PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto 4 has a native resolution of only 640p. It has now been confirmed that the Xbox 360 version has native resolutions of 720p and 1080i, and the Xbox 360 hardware resolution upconversion chip can take that as high as 1080p. Playstation 3 hardware doesn't have a resolution upconversion chip, so the resolution is stuck at only 640p...that is quite a disappointment. When you consider that Rockstar had already made a deal with Microsoft so that only the Xbox 360 get the "Complete" version of Grand Theft Auto 4 with the two exclusive episodes that will only be downloadable for the Xbox 360, I can understand why several friends who have a Playstation 3 say they will not buy Grand Theft Auto 4. One friend even said that if he did buy GTA4, he would buy a used copy, just so GTA 4 doesn't get any sales records.

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flyingdutchdog

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@R3DNIN3 Ironic isn't it .... it seems the PS3 is technically having the most problems with this game ... lock ups etc. I know cause I'm on my 100th PS3 ... will Sony ever get it right lol

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flyingdutchdog

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@necroneux don't forget to add the PS3 into your equation ... it has as many FPS's as the 360 ... remember, 99% of games released on the 360 are also released on the PS3

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flyingdutchdog

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@Prodigy220 You are a laugh and half ... GTA IV is soooo boring and over-hyped ... I almost fell asleep playing it. Same old game in new clothing. And for the record, not too many people bought into the Legendary issue. You just come off as a Halo hater ... so typical and so predictable ...

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DarkFadi

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that is a big sale!!

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XanderKage

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Woah......

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thenephariouson

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i didnt pre-order it, just walked into Toys R Us and picked it up, they had loads : ) There are quite a few up & coming titles which sell very well, i just cant think of any that have the potential of beating this at the moment. I suppose its a case of how much hype is created

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Prodigy220

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the thing these halo fanboys are forgetting when they complain about GTA IV only breaking a record because it is multiplatform is that halo 3 had a 150 dollar legendary edition, then GTA special edition is only 90, same as the halo special edition. So they are both even, lets look at the scores, GTA is a way better game than halo/

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BigSmitts07

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bet itll be broken again within a year...these records always get broken

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Sam_Lowery

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Huge.

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_guenter_26

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Dan2002sk8er What makes Halo3 so bad.

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Dan2002sk8er

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Bigger than Halo 3, I guarantee it. not that my guarantee means much but it's there. Way more fun Rented Halo 3 glad I didn't buy it.

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_guenter_26

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This game is going to be freaking huge!

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darkride66

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d_love said "the back of the box says 1080p for X360 and PS3." What, really? I didn't think the 360 could do 1080p. Especially with games. From my understanding the PS3 was doing 640p and the 360 720p, but the PS3 version looked better because it smoothed over the imperfections. That and there is more going on on the screen, significantly less texture pop ins and reduced load times. Too bad the PS3 doesn't also have DLC at some point.

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brucies_bubbles

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Great game. Hated GTA: SA. only played for 2 hours and was bored. GTA 4 is great. Can go bowling, jobs, watch comedy, tv, listen to radio.. Have it on PS3. Throughly enjoy it. Only downside is those lag players who don't die

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wilt1725grog

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I have been playing now for more than 4 hrs. Excelent! I'm still waiting for Ninja Gaiden 2' Gears Of War 2' Metal Gear And Fable. Will buy them all. That's the type of macho that i am!

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d_love

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hotdork70minus1 , the back of the box says 1080p for X360 and PS3.

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Kenji_Masamune

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now now people, if we keep on this warring between game consoles they might remove this topic like the other one about M$ dropping $50 million to lock in exclusive content. Just keep that in mind, until then - FLAME ON!!!

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SPANNER-MAN

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from wat u all claim, sounds as if the game is having some tech issues with the first generation Ps3 and 360, but thats just my oppinion.

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wilt1725grog

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So he actually don't think that Gears Of War 2 and Metal Gear will have maybe not simililar but a very high demand just as well as this game. I would go even farther and say that Resident Evil will be huge too. The only game that is as powerful as GTA 4 is Halo. If Halo would have been realase for more than just one console, it would have the same if not even better numbers than GTA will have when all is said and done.

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flawless_blade

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Holy Cannoli! $22.8 BILLION! Hey... Rockstar, ya wanna share some o' that money?

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Pablo620

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Funny how the only platform available to see up there is the 360 version when i recall all games showing all available platforms

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tyler2357

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I'm playing it on my 60gb PS3 right now and haven't had a problem yet. Been playing for about two hours and it has been perfect.

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Agermemnon

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Well 13% into the 360 ver and guess what....? lol no such problems yet but a mate with EU 40gig ps3 has had it lock up twice in 4 hours ? ps my 60gig does that also whilst playing UT3 ???

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darkride66

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hotdork70minus1said "Damn ! Another article just came out that it only runs on 630p for PS3 and 720p on 360" - Yeah, I read this too. The same guys that figured out Halo3 wasn't running at 720p noticed this, although he said it's a good thing. "For example, look at the dithering on the signs in the background on those shots. A bit ugly on Xbox 360, but smoothed and blurred away on PS3, presenting a generally nicer look." Why didn't you just buy it for your 360? Based on your user profile and the games you're tracking it's pretty clear you favor the 360. What made you pick the PS3 version in the first place?

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juggleJUGGLER

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"gta4 is bigger than jesus"-Beatles MUCH CLOWN LUV

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klugenbeel

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OMG!!!! I need to get out of work and go get my copy, the suspense is killing me, GTA4 great this, great that. I KNOW! I understand it is "All That and a Bag of Potato Chips", but can it get me out of work early? I think GTA4 can and deservesa a 10/10 if it gets me out of work early! lol

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ctg867

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Chances are, unless you pre-ordered or went at midnight, you didn't get a copy. Large chains like GameStop, Circuit City, and Best Buy, and smaller video and game places are all sold out of the 360 version, unless you pre-ordered it. As for the PS3 version, some stores have it, but not all. And I know a lot of stores have the collector's editions for both. This is as of 3:00-4:00 on launch day. Oh, and incase anybody is curious, 5 out of the 6 publications I really care about all gave this game the equivalent of a 10. GameSpot, GamePro, Game Informer, IGN, and 1UP. I'm waiting on the EGM review. But chances are it won't get a 10 equivalent, given that 3 people have to review the game, and I'm sure one of them will see something wrong with the game and give it a lower grade.

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Pedro7_2000

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Based on these projections, the game will generate well over 1/2 a Billion dollars!!

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hotdork70minus1

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Damn ! Another article just came out that it only runs on 630p for PS3 and 720p on 360. Apparently more color has been added to the PS3 version so it seems the same. None the less that is dissapointing. This sucks, I'm stuck with a broken version. I checked out my 360 friends list and theres 30 people playing compared to 4 on my PS3. Ugh ! I want my game to work !!!

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Killer2401

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jackrocks123.....I hate to admit it but as I read your post I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.... They didn't even mention the slow start like OXM said!

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BoobyUnger

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hmm i thought it the ps3 version was selling more because i went to eb games a while back to preorder and the guy says he barely got any 360 preorders while he had beyond tonnes for ps3 version.

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jackrocks123

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hmm 10/10 by gamespot and ign, hmm none of the other GTA's got this, i smell a bribe like the person below me said :)

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SevenStephens

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Azrael_esp doesnt know what he' s talking about. halo 3 had like 150 million in sales first day.. gta4 has like 466 million... even so.. yea there are 2 consols but even if u divide it by 2... its still more then halo 3

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FallenAngelXBL

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I also find it rather strange that no reviewer has commented on this. GS said a few graphical hitches. But that cant count as a full game freeze. I smell a small bribe...or maybe they didn't encounter it...i dunno.

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klugenbeel

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GonLee30, Some of us have to wait to get out of work before we beat up our local GameStop guy to get our copy! lol

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Bauer_24

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People could this quite possibly be the greatest GAME TITLE LAUNCH OF ALL TIME!!!!....... 10/10 by Gamespot? the last time games got a perfect score from this site as i can remember are 1998's Orcarina Of Time for N64 and Soul Calibur For DC...... OMG!!!