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5/9/2008
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'Grand Theft Auto Success' Taxes IGN's Google-Powered Map

Microsoft's retailer survey also found more than 60% of all GTA games sold in the first week were for its Xbox 360 videogame console.

Videogame service provider IGN Entertainment on Friday was feeling the strain from trying to keep up with the runaway success of "Grand Theft Auto IV."

IGN has created a Google-powered online map of Liberty City, the fictional GTA 'hood that closely resembles New York. GTA players are able to place markers on the map for points of interest, restaurants, nightclubs, and just about anything else they find in their travels in GTA's virtual world.

On Friday, IGN's GTA Web site was working hard to keep up with the number of players. "Due to the sheer amount of submissions from all you pimps, the review process is taking longer than expected," a notice on the site said. "Please do not submit the same marker twice out of fear your submission didn't go through."

While IGN appears to be handling the spike, the posting reflects the unprecedented success of GTA IV, which according to game-maker Take-Two Interactive Software has broken records for first-day and first-week sales. As of Wednesday, Take-Two sold 6 million copies of the game worldwide, taking in more than a half-billion dollars in the first week since the game's April 29th release. More than half of the units -- 3.6 million -- were sold on the first day.

The NPD Group, an authority in U.S. retail sales, has yet to put out its sales numbers for GTA IV. The market research firm plans to releases its April figures for the videogame market next week.

In the meantime, others are hoping to catch a ride on the GTA getaway car. Microsoft said on its Gamerscoreblog that retailers reported that more than 60% of all GTA games sold in the first week were for the software maker's Xbox 360 videogame console. This would lead one to believe that the remaining 40% were for Sony's PlayStation, but the consumer electronics company was mum on GTA's impact.

Microsoft, however, said its own sales data from last week shows that Xbox 360 sales at retailers went up 54% week-over-week as a result of GTA's success. In addition, about 40% of the people buying new Xboxes also bought a copy of GTA IV.

While gamers can't wait to prowl GTA's gang-infested 'hood, critics are less enthusiastic about the game's focus on violence and crime. The Chicago Transit Authority nixed a $300,000 ad campaign for the game after a local Fox News station questioned whether the agency was sending the right message at a time when the city was struggling to reduce real crime.

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