Grand Theft Auto V early sales row

GameThe creators of Grand Theft Auto V have launched an investigation after copies of the eagerly-anticipated video game appear to have been dispatched days ahead of its official release.

Online retailer Amazon has already sold out of the game which cost more to make than many Hollywood blockbusters and, in certain circles, generated a similar hype.

Hundreds of fans are expected to queue up tonight to get their hands on the latest iteration in the Grand Theft Auto series which reportedly cost around £170 million to make and market - more than films such as Avatar.

It will go on sale at midnight when stores across the country are expected to open their doors for special launch events.

But some gamers claimed to have received their copies as early as Friday following Amazon deliveries.

Fans expressed their delight on Twitter where one user wrote: "THANK YOU MUM AND AMAZON GTA 5 HERE TODAY SO F****** EXCITED".

Another joked: "I refuse to disclose whether Amazon has dispatched my pre-order copy of GTA early in case it prevents them from doing so again in the future".

GTA maker Rockstar said it was looking into how any copies of the game may have been released early.

"We are in the process of investigating early 'sales' to determine how and why that is occurring," a spokesman told the Games Industry International website.

In a message on its website, Amazon warned any orders placed after September 13 may not arrive until after tomorrow's release date because of high demand.

It said: "Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360)--Stock Update. Please note--due to high demand, orders placed for Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360) from September 13 will be shipped as soon as we receive inventory."

Experts are tipping the game to smash sales records and estimates suggest it could generate £1 billion during its first year on sale when gamers are predicted to snap up some 25 million copies.

Tom Butler, social media editor of gaming site, said thousands of workers have taken the day off for the launch or plan on calling in sick.

"Grand Theft Auto V will be the biggest entertainment launch of the year and possibly all-time with levels of consumer anticipation outstripping Harry Potter and Twilight," he said.

"With gamers queuing at midnight to be among the first to play and the developer boasting thousands of hours of game play, there's no surprise that we're likely to see an outbreak of GTA flu this September."

The gaming site polled 10,995 readers to ask whether they would take time off work on Tuesday when the GTA V goes on sale.

According to its findings, 5,059 readers (46%) said they booked the day off as holiday.

Another 2,012 (19%) said they would phone in claiming to be unwell while 3,884 (35%) said they would wait to get their hands on the game.

The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series - which sees players buy virtual prostitutes - has accumulated sales of 135 million copies since its 1997 debut. GTA IV has reportedly sold more than 25 million copies since its 2008 release.

Keza MacDonald, games editor at, described GTA V as a "masterpiece" and "one of the very best video games ever made".

"Grand Theft Auto V is not only a preposterously enjoyable video game, but also an intelligent and sharp-tongued satire of contemporary America," she added.

"It represents a refinement of everything that GTA IV brought to the table five years ago. It's technically more accomplished in every conceivable way, but it's also tremendously ambitious in its own right.

"No other world in video games comes close to this in size or scope, and there is sharp intelligence behind its sense of humour and gift for mayhem. It tells a compelling, unpredictable, and provocative story without ever letting it get in the way of your own self-directed adventures through San Andreas.

"It is one of the very best video games ever made."

An Amazon spokesman said: "We have established processes in place to deliver new titles to customers on their release date and are looking into the circumstances that led to a small number of customers receiving this game earlier than intended on this occasion.

"Amazon customers who ordered GTAV for release day delivery will receive their game tomorrow."