Grand Theft Auto V maker Rockstar is investigating claims that copies of its eagerly anticipated new game have been sent out early to customers by the online retailer Amazon.
The game was not due to be released until Tuesday, with stores opening their doors at midnight for special launch events.
But it has been reported that copies had been dispatched by Amazon and received by enthusiastic fans, ahead of the official date.
In a statement given to industry website GamesIndustry International, the game developer Rockstar said: “We are in the process of investigating early ‘sales’ to determine how and why that is occurring.”
Amazon has not yet responded to the claims.
It came after some people said they had already received the game and posted pictures on social media.
There have also been reports in other countries of retailers selling the game ahead of its official release.
However, this is likely to do little to dampen the clamour at the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, which has been trailed as the ‘most exciting’ event in the entertainment calendar.
Queues are expected to stretch around the block tonight with fans anxious to get their hands on the game.
Grand Theft Auto V could generate £1bn in the first year alone
Costing more to make than many Hollywood blockbusters and, in gaming circles, generating a similar amount of hype, Amazon has already sold out of pre-ordered copies of the game due to high demand.
Grand Theft Auto V reportedly cost around £170m to make and market – more than films such as Avatar.
Experts are tipping the game to smash sales records and estimates suggest it could generate £1bn 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 IGN.com, 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 2012 (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 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.Tweet this!