“Grand Theft Auto” And The National Economy

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Take-Two Interactive (TTWO), M&A prey of Electronic Arts (ERTS) will launch its wildly anticipated game "Grand Theft Auto IV" today. The paeon of bad taste, violence, and sexual lust may set records for video game sales volumes. The current champion of the genre is Microsoft’s (MSFT) "Halo 3".

According to The New York Times, which rarely writes about such things "During the next two weeks, some five million couch jockeys are expected to plunk down $60 to buy Grand Theft Auto IV."

It is only fair to ask how five million people came by that money. Before the end of the year the number of buyers may be closer to 15 million or 20 million. Each of those players has to have a $400 or $500 video game console. It is a lot of cake no matter how it is sliced.

With the consumer’s wallet empty and his gas tank dry, how do so many people find this kind of cash?

There are not many answers. Either people have a few extra dollars or they think they can get them. It may be that the rebate checks being mailed from George Bush to tens of millions of Americans will go directly to Grand Theft Auto IV. At least the cash will not be stuffed in mattresses.

Or, the American consumer needs one small diversion to take him away from his economic suffering. No matter how bad things are, he can go to his basement, turn down the lights, and play Grand Theft Auto IV until the Sun comes up. He needs it as a distraction, even if he cannot afford it.

Douglas A. McIntyre