ABU DHABI // Local video game fans are unable to purchase one of the most anticipated titles of this year from stores.
Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA V), developed and published by industry giant Rockstar, is unlikely to be approved for sale by the National Media Council (NMC) for its explicit content that contains violence, sex and drug use.
Previous GTA titles have also been subject to recommendations by the NMC and although there has been no official announcement from the body on the latest release, many believe it will remain unavailable for high-street purchase.
"The NMC has not got back, hence the game isn't available in stores," said Nick Rego, editor at IGN Middle East.
"However, plenty of online stores are selling grey market import copies so gamers are still buying the game one way or the other. The game was also available for pre-order and download in the official Sony Playstation store so clearly it's a matter of if you want to get the game badly enough, there are ways to do so," he said.
"The GTA series has a history of controversy because of its content so it's kind of a given that the game isn't available yet.
"It may be disappointing for gamers but at end of the day the NMC are just doing their job really and we can't hold it against them for too long."
The game is described as "one of the very best video games ever made", in the official review on IGN's website.
A representative for Dubai-based retailer Geekay Games said that phones have been ringing "off the hook" with enquiries from customers wanting to get their hands on the game.
The retailer, however, has not received any of the games.
Company management said that they were not available for comment on the issue until an official notice had been received from the NMC.
The same goes for Virgin Megastore - which operates several stores across the country.
A representative from Virgin Mena was more definite about the status of the game.
"We are definitely not getting it in the UAE," they said.
Red Entertainment, a Dubai-based company, is involved with the testing process for titles to be released in the UAE.
"We cannot comment on the title at this time, we have not received any feedback from the NMC yet," said a company representative.
The game was released on Tuesday to customers in the UK and US, but local fans cannot purchase the game from high-street stores.
Most will have to obtain a copy of the blockbuster from online retailers.
Many UAE residents desperate to get a copy of the game took to Twitter.
"The annoying thing is that you can't buy GTA in the UAE so I'm gonna have to find another way of getting it," one said.
"Looking for gta V for ps3 in UAE. Will pay full price, plus gift card from virgin," said another.
"& the question remains is GTA 5 banned in UAE or not?" was the question from one user.
Online retailer souq.com is selling the game for Dh328 for the PS3 version, and Dh329 for the Xbox 360 edition.
Experts predict that global sales could exceed 6 million copies within the first day of release.
The game reportedly cost about £170 million (Dh 992 million) to produce, making it the most expensive game ever made.
Many retailers across the UK and US held midnight openings to allow customers to get their hands on the much anticipated title as soon as possible.