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Grand Theft Auto 4 set to blast sales records

  • Story Highlights
  • Grand Theft Auto 4's characters are underworld criminals armed to the teeth
  • GTA 4 has a "Mature" rating, meaning it is intended for users 17 years old or older
  • The video game industry estimates "GTA 4" will sell 6 million copies in the first week
  • iReport.com: Share your early reviews of "GTA 4"
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From Maggie Lake
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The fourth installment of the controversial video game "Grand Theft Auto" goes on sale worldwide Tuesday with expectations that it will break sales records.

Grand Theft Auto 4 is loud, violent, and racy -- and gaming fanatics can't wait to play it, some even vowing to take the day off work or school to get their hands on it.

The video game industry estimates "GTA 4" will sell about 6 million copies and make about $400 million in sales worldwide in its first week alone. If those numbers hold up, the game would break the record held by the current all-time sales champ, Halo 3.

One reason for the great expectations is that the fourth version of Grand Theft Auto can be played on Microsoft's Xbox 360 as well as Sony's Playstation 3.

Game box makers, which are featuring GTA 4 on their Web sites, hope the game will bring increased sales. Gaming retailers also are looking forward to the shoot-'em-up.

"It is probably one of our top-selling products for us in 2008," said Chris Olivera, spokesman for video game retailer Gamestop. "Overall, it will probably be one of the top three best-selling video games ever." Check out some of the biggest video game franchises »

The premise of the Grand Theft Auto series is controversial, with characters who are underworld criminals armed to the teeth, but that's also part of the game's appeal.Video Watch gamers talk about their excitement about the game »

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  • iReport.com: What do you think of GTA 4?

"Controversy does sell, but it is targeted to an older audience," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at market research firm Jupiter Research. "It is not geared to children."

GTA 4 has a "Mature" rating, meaning it is intended for users 17 years old or older. The game's label warns of blood, intense violence, partial nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of alcohol, and use of drugs.

That mature rating, however, stopped parents groups from blasting Grand Theft Auto and its creator, Rockstar Games.

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"A heavy diet of these games puts kids at risk for aggression," says the National Institute for Media and the Family, an independent non-profit group that researches the effects of media on children.

Police groups have also raised concerns, and in Chicago, ads for GTA 4 have been removed from buses and trains. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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