UK online retailers break street date on GTA

Gamers get new GTA a day early as online retailers break ranks on launch date.

Efforts to prevent the launch date of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from being broken in the UK have been a resounding success on the High Street - but customers of some online retailers have received their copies early.

Publisher Take Two Interactive and distributor Gem implemented a policy whereby retailers had to sign a contract guaranteeing not to sell copies of the game ahead of the October 29th launch date in order to receive early stock of the title.

Those who did not sign up to the agreement will not receive stock until tomorrow, while anyone breaking the agreement will not receive early stock on future titles and may be subject to a week-long delivery delay.

The threats appear to have worked, with no reports of any High Street retailers in the UK selling the game ahead of time - almost unheard of for any major videogames release - and many stores planning to open at midnight tonight to sell the first copies.

However, the situation with online retailers is a different one - with several key e-tailers sending copies of the game out early despite attempts by the distributors to sign them up to a contract prohibiting copies from arriving before Friday.

As a result, many consumers who ordered from the GAME.net or Gameplay online stores, both operated by the country's largest videogame retail chain GAME Group, have received their copies of the title a day early, while a number of Play.com customers have also reported early receipt of the game.

A spokesperson for GAME this afternoon told gi.biz that the company is working closely with Take Two on the issue, and blamed the early arrival of the products on Royal Mail, saying that all of the company's shipping agreements have specified that the games should not be delivered until Friday.

However, reports that copies of the game have been delivered to customers today have angered rival retailers both online and in the high street.

"What Take Two have tried to instigate for this launch is to be praised," Doug Bone of major online retailer Simply Games told gi.biz today, "and we at Simply Games are happy to support them with what they are working to achieve."

"GTA San Andreas is a landmark game for this industry," he continued, "and if certain retailers have not held their nerve, then on their heads be it... All Simply Games orders are being shipped today for delivery with customers on the day of release."

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