Grand Theft Madness

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

There's going to be a whole lot of madness going on Monday night, with Canada's two biggest electronics chains - Best Buy and Future Shop - throwing competing evening launch events in partnership with competing video game console makers for Grand Theft Auto IV, the most highly anticipated release so far this year.

Future Shop and Sony are throwing bashes at stores in Toronto (Yonge & Dundas), Vancouver (Broadway & Pine), Edmonton (Calgary Trail South & 34th Ave.) and Calgary (Northland Drive NW & 52nd Ave). Best Buy and Microsoft are holding shindigs in Toronto (Bay & Dundas), Burnaby, B.C., Langley, B.C., Edmonton and Mississauga, with exact addresses listed on its website. The game officially releases on Tuesday and is widely expected to smash all first-week sales records. Both chains are holding midnight madness events starting on Monday evening, culminating in stores opening at midnight to accommodate the masses that will doubtlessly line up.

What kind of madness should we expect? Future Shop is promising a street-party atmosphere with DJs spinning music while game demos are shown. Best Buy says customers will find themselves in "themed interactive activities and will experience the hard life of Liberty City first-hand."

The competing events highlight the dynamic between Best Buy and Future Shop, which continues to get more interesting as time goes by. Best Buy bought Future Shop in 2001 and, rather than simply absorb the chain, chose to run it completely separately. Future Shop, in fact, continues to open new stores, as does Best Buy.

Nevertheless, with GTA IV going on sale at midnight on Monday, there are going to be a lot of gamers calling in sick to work on Tuesday.