HUNDREDS of gamers queued into the early hours of this morning in Edinburgh as Grand Theft Auto V was finally released to the public.
The game, heralded as “one of the finest ever created”, saw fans flock to specialist stores in Ocean Terminal and the Fort which had stayed open past midnight to let eager fans get their hands on the game as soon as possible.
But despite the hyped launch, some lucky players still appeared to get their copies earlier, with reports online retailer Amazon delivered copies to customers on Friday.
Edinburgh-based creator Rockstar North confirmed an investigation had been launched into whether copies were dispatched days ahead of the official release.
“We are in the process of investigating early ‘sales’ to determine how and why that is occurring,” a spokesman said.
Fans expressed their delight on Twitter where one user wrote: “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”.
For the vast majority of players however, this morning was their first chance to try out the game – and the release is expected to spark a wave of “sickies” as people take the day off to continue the game.
Brian Baglow, of the Scottish Games Network and a writer on the first GTA game, said: “Quite simply, it is going to be the single biggest video game ever released. I would say it’s by far the biggest cultural export to come out of Scotland.
“There will be a lot of empty desks with people taking today off work so they can sit around and play it.
“When games are released people will either take a holiday in advance and the less scrupulous ones will simply call in sick.
“Unlike a film where you only get a couple of hours you can expect to play GTA for the next few weeks.”
In anticipation of its release, the Game store at the city’s Fort Kinnaird changed its logo to mimic the GTA font, with all the floor and walls given over to Grand Theft Auto images.
The game makers, Rockstar North, based in Greenside Row, also gave its office windows over to a giant ad.
One 28-year-old gamer, who did not want to be named, said he had taken the day off work to play it.
He said: “I was in the queue at 11 last night and the minute I get my hands on it, sleep won’t be an option. As soon as the release date was announced I made sure I wouldn’t have to go to work.”
The series has sold 135 million copies worldwide to date – with a further 25m GTA V games expected to be snapped up in its first year.
Rockstar North first launched the series to eventual acclaim in 1997.
The often controversial series allows gamers to play as a petty criminal who works his way up through the ranks.
THREE days of football fever are to be held at Game in Livingston to kick-off the launch of FIFA 14.
Customers will be able to try gaming demonstrations at the weekend event, from Friday, September 27.
Manager Leigh Halliday said: “We know this news will be popular with gamers throughout West Lothian.”
Every version of the Grand Theft Auto series has sparked controversy, and the latest game has already come under fire for a gruesome torture scene in which players are told to pull out the teeth of a victim with a pair of pliers. The game, which has been given an 18-rating by the BBFC, also has players perform the “water boarding” torture technique, kneecap their tied-up victim with a monkey wrench and administer electric shocks.
Alison Sherratt, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the game was “a step too far” and could contribute to children displaying violence, while the Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was astonished by the graphic nature of the torture scenes.