You know it, I know it -- Grand Theft Auto is big. Not just a huge videogame in its own right, it can be argued that Rockstar's flagship franchise is very much a part of modern culture, a game known and played by the hardcore and more laid back gamer alike. One analyst has predicted that this game is even big enough to affect one of the biggest movie releases of the year, Iron Man.
Usually I ignore analysts and their informed opinions, but the theory that April 29's GTA IV release could hurt ticket sales for the May 2 release of Iron Man is an interesting one. Analyst Mike Hickey anticipates that Iron Man's ticket sales will be "dampened" by Liberty City keeping millions of potential customers glued to the TV screens.
"The last significant videogame release, Halo 3, generated over $300 million in sales from its first week in the market," stated Hickey. "Halo 3 was released on just one platform, the Xbox 360, and attached nearly 50 percent of the installed base. GTA IV will be released on both the Xbox 360 and PS3, which have both significantly increased their installed bases since the release of Halo 3. A GTA IV 25 percent attach rate to a combined Xbox 360 and PS3 installed base at its April 29 release would imply 5.8 million units sold or roughly $360 million in retail sales the first week of the game’s release."
Hollywood has already pinned the blame on Halo for poor ticket sales in the past, and Hickey's point about GTA having two audiences instead of Halo 3's one is valid. The Grand Theft Auto games, like Bungie's Halo, are proof of the power that videogames can have, and the mainstream weight they can carry. I actually think this theory could hold water. And even if not, at least Iron Man has an excuse if it doesn't do as well as expected.