Crunch Time For Digital Distribution

The release of online-exclusive ''GTA'' content may prove to be a watershed event.

In the short-term, Tuesday's release of "Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned" will elicit jubilation from the series' many fans.

In the long term, it could be looked upon as a make or break moment for the digital delivery of videogames.

Now publishers (even those outside of the Take-Two corporate offices) are keeping a close eye on how many of those people who bought "GTA IV" will be willing to spend $20 online for an add-on pack that introduces a new story and deeper "sandbox" play events.

It probably won't be the majority. Owners of the PlayStation 3 version of the game won't have the opportunity, and some players are still wary of buying games online, preferring the comfort of having a disc in their hand in case of a system crash.

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