'GTA IV' among strongest brands

Survey: The Web played a key role in game's success

SAN DIEGO -- Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto IV" has one of the strongest brands in recent video game history thanks in large part to satisfied customers who purchased previous titles in the series, according to a new study by the Nielsen Games research division.

The survey of 6,000 gamers found that "GTA IV's" unaided awareness was second only to the 2007 best-selling title "Halo 3" among AAA games of the past five years and that more than half of respondents planned on playing the game for at least six months.

The Nielsen survey also provided testimony to the growing power of the Internet in reaching the gaming demographic as online reviews/previews were the top way respondents learned of the game and its spring release, followed by TV commercials and viral campaigns/word-of-mouth.

Despite its M-rating, "GTA IV" also proved surprisingly popular with those younger than 17, as nearly one in five of respondents who owned a copy of the game were in that younger age group.