Remember, the App Store launched after GTA IV hit. It has been easy to forget just the level of spectacle that an old fashioned go-to-the-shop-and-buy it games release can deliver.
A huge part of that is thanks to a remarkable ceasefire over prices: GTA V has held firm around the £40 mark. The specialists and indies have not been pinched. Given the relative age of the software cycle margins may not be too insulting.
Discounting trade-in and multibuy gimmicks, Tesco is the only store to have taken the basic price under £39 at the time of writing. And even then it’s by just a quid. We’re a long way from the days of ‘FIFA 11 for £25’. But as the dust settles around the GTA stampede, I imagine the cynics will asking if this might be the last of these large-scale software launches.
Call of Duty will stand its ground, but will it command the same power next year? If we don’t see an increase in triple-A disc games over the next generation, then digital will directly lead retail to wither, right? How long do these popcorn-munching games have until they buckle under the weight of their own high-budget riskless ride?
I’m always annoyingly pragmatical on these topics. But even my retail sympathies were surprised by the whispers this week around next-gen consoles.
There’s talk about the huge number of units Sony hopes to get in the market, and the unpredictably strong pre-order momentum it has already got; then there’s the word from ERA that 360 owners are very, very keen to upgrade their Xboxes.
It’s too easy to assume that every change is permanent, and no one is denying that the new hardware launches against a radically redrawn games business.
But with the help of 2,000 specialist and non-specialist stores opening up at midnight Monday and long queues at every shopping centre that mattered, GTA has proven that there’s still a palpable appetite for big games – the kind of entertainment that only our industry is capable of delivering.