Grand Theft Auto IV vs. games on the Mac

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View
I read the other day, in a New York Times article, that Grand Theft Auto IV "racked up first-week sales of $500 million." This is a truly incredible statistic.

In contrast, take a look at the All-Time USA Box office numbers, as listed on IMDB. Titanic is number one at $600,779,824 and Star Wars in number 2 at $460,935,665. In other words, in one week, Grand Theft Auto IV surpassed the final U.S. gross ticket sales for every movie every made, except Titanic!

Now that's impressive.

What's almost as impressive, at least to me, is that I don't know one person who actually owns the game. Now granted, I am not a youngster any more. And I don't have much social interaction with people under 30. At least not of the sort where the subject of Grand Theft Auto is likely to crop up in the conversation.

Still, I would have thought that I would at least heard about a few people who had played the game. Nope. Or whose kids play the game. Not one. I confess that I too have never played the game. I don't even own a game console (Wii, Xbox or PlayStation).

From this anecdotal "survey", I am led to assume that the galactic sales of GTA IV derives almost entirely from teens and twenty-somethings. Actually, given that the game has an M rating, teenagers under 17 aren't even supposed to be buying the game. Although I know the rating system is largely a farce, GTA IV's rating presumably limit sales at least a wee bit. And still the game steamrolls across the landscape. Very very impressive indeed.

For the record, it's not that I have no interest in games. Quite the contrary. It's just that I haven't had sufficient motivation to buy a game console. I have enjoyed playing games on my Mac over the years, including Halo and various Star Wars games. I have always preferred this to the alternative of investing $300 or more in a game console and having to hook it up to my TV -- and then paying $60 or so for each new game. Only to have it all become obsolete a year or so later when the inevitable next generation console hardware is released.

But what do I know? Clearly, I am something of a dinosaur here.

I do know that games for the Mac aren't getting much buzz these days — even among Mac owners. There was a time when the prospect of something such as the release of Halo for the Mac was a big deal. [Of course, for Halo, Bungie was purchased by Microsoft, which put development plans for a Mac version on hold for several years. But that's another story.] There was a time when the arrival of the latest Mac games made front-page headlines in the Mac press, not just a brief mention in a Games column somewhere. That time is gone. And the most popular games, such as Grand Theft Auto, never appear on a Mac. Often, they don't appear on a PC either, at least not until long after the game has been available for consoles.

I do see a glimmer of good news here -- at least for those of us with an iPhone. There's a reasonable chance that, after the release of iPhone 2.0 software in July, games on the iPhone will become the next big thing -- even surpassing devices such as Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP). With its use of a touchscreen and accelerometer, the iPhone offers a unique game environment, one that just might give it a critical competitive edge. At least I hope so. I would welcome being on the leading edge of games again, without having to buy a game console or stick an extra device in my pocket.

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4 Comments

Allen D

Ted,

I don’t disagree with the decline of Mac gaming. However there are 3 games on the way that will either bring it back or, by their lack of success, kill it dead.

Call of Duty 4 (due in September), Spore (likewise) and Starcraft 2 (due whenever they feel like it).

Allen

PS - Since I got my Wii, I don’t have as much interest in Mac gaming as I once did. However, these games are not able to be replicated there so I do care. Enough to replace my aging G5 with a new iMac with a beefy graphics card. The Spore Creature Creator Demo makes this investment look like it might be worth it. We will know soon.
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Ted
[quote comment=“1618”] Since I got my Wii, I don’t have as much interest in Mac gaming as I once did. However, these games are not able to be replicated there so I do care.

True enough. Like the iPhone, the Wii offers features available nowhere else. That’s a key reason for Wii’s popularity, despite having graphics that are inferior to its competitors.

- Ted

david

Thanks for the article.
We should also note that movies reach a much wider audience. Average ticket price at $8. So 600 million divided by 8 is of course a lot more than 500 million divided by 60.

I started gaming in the late 70s when I worked at a foosball/pool hall. We started getting in all of the 1st gen arcade games, and I’ve been gaming since. I only have a PS3 now. After 2 XBoxes RRD on me I gave up with that.

I bought GTA4 and couldn’t figure out what all the hype was about. I didn’t think it was that great. You can’t even control the camera when you are running around but you can when you are driving, Go figure. AND it doesn’t even run in 640P across HDMI. What’s up with that??? Consoles may be next-gen but they games definitely are NOT. Yet.

There are some titles (Wipeout, GT) that I am looking for, but I bet a big buzz will be the iPhone and iPod. It could REALLY be the new handheld platform. As long as they don’t port only Nintendo games. Please.

Since I use a Mac at work for the last 20 or so years, I have no particular interest in playing any games on it. The PS3 is fine: best BD player you can get, best 1080 up-convert player you can get and it surfs (kinda) and plays media from all the standard storage devices. I use is as much for non-gaming.

Here at work (glad this site isn’t Websensed) we have a lot of gamers, and we are always discussing the state of the industry and what games we are playing. We are al waiting for the developers to make some great games instead of v3 or v4.

The industry is just so young compared to almost all other forms of entertainment but you’re right Ted: we will see a tons of games for the iPhone,

seyoda

I have a wii and a ps3 and they both offer totally unique experience.  I feel like the wii is a fun gamig platform whil the PS3 is a true entertainment center with streaming media, blue ray, free online gamin and a variety of other features that nobody else has.

As for GTA, I find it to be an incredible item of engineering.  A quick glance at the numerous cheats available for it http://www.gamecheats.com/playstation-3/Grand-Theft-Auto-4 really underscores the imaginative nature of the development team and shows why they have been able to duplicate the success 4 times yielding billions of dollars in sales around the world.

Although the iPhone and other platforms are great and fun, there is really only one PS3 and it will not soon be surpassed for the value and entertainment it provides.

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