Rockstar has requested that online retailers hold off from dispatching copies of Grand Theft Auto 5 until September 16 in an effort to ensure early copies don't reach customers in advance of the official September 17 release date.

In an email sent to customers this evening, UK retailer GAME said that "GTA V is released on 17th September and Rockstar, who publish it, have worked very hard to make it the biggest gaming launch ever.

"They have requested that no UK retailer despatch GTA V before the 16th September and GAME, along with all reputable retailers, will respect this request."

GAME states that it will be processing orders earlier than normal "due to the epic size" of Rockstar's upcoming title, before reiterating that orders will not reach customers early.

The issue of online retailers dispatching copies well in advance of release date has led to one UK retailer - - choosing not to stock copies of one of this year's biggest games.

Back in May, ShopTo announced that it would not be stocking this November's Call of Duty: Ghosts due to "contractual reasons and [a] delivery policy agreement".

The firm claimed that Activision's policy meant that it would not be able to "maintain [its] high standards of release date delivery".

Last year, UK retailer Simply Games openly advertised the fact that it would be dispatching copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in advance of release date and offered a "guaranteed Monday delivery", promising delivery a day ahead of the official release.

Some customers - included - received the game three days ahead of its official release.

GTA 5 releases on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17.

Source: GAME Customer Services Email