GTA's characters might be a bunch of villainous rip-off merchants, but the game itself is anything but. In an unusual reversal of the usual rip-off Britain, the UK is the cheapest place to buy GTA V.
Pre-orders here were around £35 for the hi-def crim-ulator, significantly less than our chums across the Channel are paying, and less even than in the US, which doesn't add VAT.
A copy of the latest in the larcenous series will set you back $60 in the US, which works out to £38 here. In France, this jeu video costs £41, while other euro-using countries are even more expensive: Germany is £47 (Xbox 360) or £48 (PS3); Italy is £45 or £47; and Austria is £47 or £50, according to figures from price comparison site idealo.co.uk.
And it's not because they're paying more to the taxman either -- all four countries have VAT rates almost the same as the UK, from 19 to 21 per cent. Nevertheless, they're as much as 42 per cent more expensive than here in Blighty.
It's not necessarily to do with exchange rates either: 1 euro is 84p at the moment, which historically is pretty high, although a little less than it was a few years ago. And in Poland, which still uses the zloty, GTA V costs nearly £44 -- 25 per cent higher than here, albeit with a higher VAT rate of 23 per cent.
So what's pushing down the price of our anarchic entertainment? Firstly, games are traditionally a little more expensive on the continent, to pay for all the extra translation and voice acting for the different languages around the world. That wouldn't account for such a big difference though.
It could be that we have a fiercer market here in the UK, with more online retailers, and with supermarkets having muscled in on video games in recent years as brilliant loss leaders. The retail behemoths stock the most popular games, like GTA or Call of Duty or FIFA, for less than cost price to get punters through the doors, and typically buy other stuff while they're a captive audience.
This pushes all the prices down: everyone else has to keep up (or pre-emptively go cheaper), or else lose out on hundreds of thousands of customers. The empty shops on your high street that used to sell video games can attest to that. Interestingly, when pre-order stocks ran out over the weekend, prices began to rise -- GTA V is £39 on Green Man Gaming, £40 on Amazon and £45 on Play.com.
Where's GTA V cheapest now?
Unsurprisingly, supermarkets are the place to go on launch day. Rockstar has a dedicated page on its website for finding the retailer nearest you that'll be open at midnight tonight, including a bunch of supermarkets. I think I'd rather wait a day than hang around the Asda on Old Kent Road at midnight, but your nearest stockist may be in a more salubrious neighbourhood. Basra, for example.
Tesco is apparently the cheapest national bricks-and-mortar shop, with a retail price of £38, or £32 if you buy £17.50 worth of Xbox Live credit (see what I mean about the loss leaders?). Sainsbury's and Asda are expected to be around £40 and Blockbuster is flogging it for £45, according to VideoGamer.com.
Have you found anywhere cheaper to get your fix of car-stealing, police-shooting shenanigans? Share the wealth in the comments, or on our bargain-basement Facebook page.