A games industry expert has sent a warning to UK businesses as the country prepares for the launch of the biggest video game release of the year.
James Binns, a publishing director from Future, claims the release of Grand Theft Auto IV on April 29 will provoke a "never-before-seen wave of absenteeism".
The magazine chief, describing the phenomenon as GTA IV flu, said he believes thousands of gamers will fake illness to play the game, adding they will join the legion of gamers who have already booked a legitimate day off to enjoy the game.
"Having worked in the games industry for 15 years, I've never witnessed anything like the hysteria building around GTA IV," said Binns.
"This game series has become culturally significant and a new chapter is a major global event, as important as a new Harry Potter novel. Gamers want to be the first to experience GTA IV and don't want anything to spoil their enjoyment. Businesses need to be prepared for the array of excuses and 24-hour ailments that will hit their workforce as GTA flu grips the UK."