May 2, 2008

Grand Theft Auto 4 Could Eclipse Halo 3 on Xbox Live

Consumer reaction to the recent release of Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto 4," may result in a change in ranks among popular games on the popular online service Xbox Live.

Since Xbox Live's premiere, it has been rare to see non-first-person shooter games at the top of the list of its most played games.

Games such as "Halo 3" and "Call of Duty 4" have maintained a strong constant following of faithful gamers, but the new inclusion of "Grand Theft Auto 4" is posing a threat to their longstanding title.

On Tuesday, the game became available to Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3 users. It was the first time in the game's history that it was created with online features as well. After previously being a one-player game, now up to 16 players can join 15 different online game types, such as cops-and-robbers team matches to free-for-alls.

"The multiplayer in this game is so well implemented that I can't imagine anyone owning a copy without trying to play it on Xbox Live," said Aaron Greenberg, the director of product management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

"GTA is unique because it appeals to such a large audience. It will likely be the best-selling game launched all year and we expect it will drive a lot of new members to Xbox Live."

The game is even poised to take the number one spot on Xbox Live, Greenberg said.

It is the most anticipated game of the year, and with critic acclaim, first-week sales are expected to reach about $400 million, eclipsing Xbox 360's release of Halo 3 last year.

"This has the capabilities of being more popular online than 'Halo 3'," said IDC analyst Billy Pidgeon.

Pidgeon said on the first night of the game's release, he went online and found most of his friends already playing online before attempting to play the single player part of the game.

"I think the console, even more so than the PC, has the potential to have lots of different types of games be popular online," Pidgeon said.

"GTA is an important piece of that. It can lead the way online for a large contingent of players who don't play first-person shooters."

Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan, estimates that only 40 percent of Xbox 360 owners routinely play online.

"This one definitely has more for everybody than any previous game," Pachter said.


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ARTICLE: Critics Expect Unprecedented Sales of Grand Theft Auto