I think one of the most significant announcements to come out of E3 was that Sony has lost its exclusive lock on Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto” series.
Since the game’s original debut in 1998, GTA has been synonymous with the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2. The game didn’t hit blockbuster status until “Grand Theft Auto 3” in 2001, which was much improved over its predecessors with an open-ended, non-linear playing structure. It generated instant controversy for its high levels of violence and became a cult hit. That game, and its several sequels, were released first on the PlayStation 2 and only came to the Xbox several months later. A version for Sony’s PlayStation Portable came out last year, and did so well that Sony will release the same game for the PS2 this year.
Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it will have a seat at the table next to Sony for “Grand Theft Auto 4,” due to be released in October 2007. The game will come out for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 on the same day. To celebrate the announcement, Xbox head Peter Moore sported a fake “Grand Theft Auto IV” tattoo on his left bicep.
Just as an aside, the influence of “Grand Theft Auto” is evidenced by this skit that appeared on Dave Chappelle’s show on the Comedy Central network. It’s instantly recognizable to anyone who has played the game.