Let me preface this post by saying that I haven't played it. In fact I don't even own a console that is able to play it. I've never even seen anyone play it, and I've watched maybe one trailer about halfway through.
So why am I writing about GTA IV having had no hands-on experience and no exposure?
Well, I've been absolutely inundated by the flood of reports, articles, blog posts, editorials and reviews about GTA IV. I spend a lot of time on the web and I watch my share of TV and listen to the radio, so I'm fairly up to date with what's being talked about online and in the media.
So here's what I'm aware of so far. Despite the massive success and constant positive reviews of the recently-released Ironman movie, its revenue is likely to pale in comparison to sales of the latest Grand Theft Auto game. The media is jumping all over reports that Hollywood is (once again) scared that computer games are going to seriously eat into their profits.
It's been said before, and it's a fairly legitimate fear. It's worth noting though, that movies and computer games compete in the entertainment market only indirectly. Sure, there's some overlap, but $100 million in movie revenue will not be replaced directly with $100 million in computer game sales. There is room for both. Motion picture industry revenues certainly haven't experienced the same massive growth as the computer game industry, but there haven't been many huge changes in movies in the last few years. Computer games on the other hand have improved out of sight in a short number of years. There are still brand new technical advancements being made (think Wii) while movies now have slightly better special effects than a few years ago. It's an unfair fight and this result isn't really surprising.
Anyway, it seems that this game is a very big deal. It's apparently got a very complex storyline; one that competes with big plot-based Hollywood movies. The big difference is that being as interactive and immersive as the GTA games are, it's infinitely more interesting and longer-lasting than a movie. There's little doubt that the $100 million it cost to make will be well worth it. The real question will be whether the other games companies will continue to pump out the same games with better graphics, or whether they'll go the way of Rockstar and start releasing games that are more like fully interactive movies.