Rockstar has taken this online integration even further with its Social Club, which lists scores and times for GTA players all around the world, and dishes out rewards for the record holders.
Blockbuster Brand Power
This generation games have evolved to become real competition for the big Hollywood blockbusters. As Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said recently, Hollywood is becoming "scared" of videogames and the box office-smashing profit potential the medium now holds in the current generation.
Halo 3 had film execs blaming games for poor ticket sales, and now GTA IV promises to upset Hollywood more than ever; "The buzz in Hollywood, which I heard from some Hollywood folks...is people are worried whether Iron Man the movie is going to get killed by Grand Theft Auto the game," Riccitiello told the FT.
The episodic, digital delivery and ahem, 'game 3.0', as Valve and Phil Harrison would argue, are the "future" of videogames. Born out of this generation, and still very much in an experimentation phase, downloadable and episodic content are a typical trait of 'next-gen' games, and Rockstar promises to take the bull by the horns.
"I think we will be in a position to market [the GTA IV episodes] not a million miles away from the way the boxed game is marketed," Rockstar boss Sam Houser told Edge. "Our goal will be to fry those Xbox Live servers - we want to have as many people tune in at that moment as possible."