GTA IV In Store Display

According to figures released by Internet Service Provider PlusNet, a total of 90,000 customers were gaming online at one time – more than one third of its broadband users.

Neil Armstrong, PlusNet’s products director, said: “The demand to play Grand Theft Auto IV online has been absolutely phenomenal. Our broadband usage figures have gone through the roof as customers’ battle it out on the streets of Liberty City.

“Grand Theft Auto IV has captured the imagination of gamers in a way not previously seen. We believe that if this has happened to us then it will be a similar story with other ISPs.
“Our usage data shows that the day after release we had the two busiest ever hours for gaming in the UK.

“Gaming accounted for approximately 7.6 per cent of all downloads in that hour – we’d normally expect to see between 3.5 per cent and 5 per cent by gaming around that time of day.”

The latest instalment of the controversial franchise was launched earlier this month to a blaze of publicity and rave reviews.

The title went on to sell a record 609,000 copies on its first day of release, beating the previous record held by GTA: San Andreas, which sold 501,000 copies in 24 hours in October 2004.

However, the launch of the notoriously violent game did not pass by without incident in the UK and abroad.

A 23-year-old man was stabbed by a stranger in Croydon, south London, as he walked past 100 people queuing to buy a copy.

A hooded man with a knife – who is thought to have known the victim – jumped out of the line outside Gamestation and stabbed him several times before running away.

In Manchester, two young men broke a teenager’s jaw and nose as they snatched the £40 game from his hands 30 minutes after he bought it.

The game was also plagued by technical glitches with users complaining that their new purchase was ‘crashing’ during introductory scenes on both the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 consoles.