The US may be on the brink of a recession, the world may be reeling under a global food crisis and international financial institutions may be facing ruin, but all these harsh realities seem to fade away in the make-believe world of video games.
Or perhaps its not so make-believe after all, considering that a single video game had managed to notch up sales exceeding half a billion dollars within a week of release.
That's what the latest sensation in the video gaming world - Grand Theft Auto IV. Developed at a cost of around $100 million over a period of three and a half years by more than a thousand people involved in the project, the product more than returned its investment within seven days of its global launch on 29th April.
Grand Theft Auto IV is the latest in the Grand Theft Auto series of video games, the ninth title and the first in its fourth generation. Widely criticized for its depiction of criminal behaviour and unrestrained violence, the series has been extremely popular because of its engrossing game play and captivating story lines.
And Grand Theft Auto IV is merely carrying on the tradition, but has elevated the bar by being ranked as the best rated video game of all time in several surveys.
The game developer Rockstar North's parent company Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said today it sold some 6 million units of its latest offering Grand Theft Auto 4 in its first week, with estimated retail sales exceeding $500 million. Opening day sales had been a staggering 3.6 million units globally.
Rockstar North Ltd. (formerly DMA Design Limited) is a Scottish developer of computer and video games founded by David Jones in Dundee and presently located on Leith Street, Edinburgh, Scotland. The company is a part of Rockstar Games, which is owned by Take Two Interactive.
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is an American publisher, developer, and distributor of video and computer games and video game peripherals. The company's headquarters are in New York City, United States, with international headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Development studio locations include San Diego, Vancouver, Toronto and Austin, Texas.
It is currently the target of a hostile takeover bid announced in February by one of the biggest names in the gaming business, Electronic Arts.