A man was stabbed in the town centre of Croydon last night at the opening of the new controversial video game Grand Theft Auto 4.

Queues of people waiting outside Gamestation in George Street at around 10.50pm saw the 25-year-old man staggering around covered in blood as they waited to get their hands on the latest copy of the game.

He was carrying a knife, which was also reportedly covered in blood.

It is believed some people in the queue thought the stabbing was a stunt and part of a show put on by Gamestation staff.

But they realised he was not an actor when four police cars and a van screeched up to the store.

Eyewitness Malcolm Critchell was at the store.

He said: "While waiting outside the store, a man stood next to us and was covered from shoulder to belly in blood.

"Myself and others thought it was a show to promote the game but when we looked closer, he had been knifed repeatedly. It was unbelieveable - there was blood everywhere, all down the street.

"It was like something out of a nightmare."

Other eye witnesses have reported that a man appeared from the George pub and stabbed another man waiting in the queue.

Landlord of the Brief pub, Kenny Tibbett, 34, said: "I came out of the pub and saw a bloke staggering up the road with a gaping wound to his back and his head.

"There was blood all over the road and he was carrying a knife."

Mr Critchell added: "Later on, a police officer came to us and asked everyone if they saw what happened to the man with the knife. I purchased my game, left the store and asked a police officer about what had happened.

"It was actually real. We were told he had been rude to some bloke, to which he was knifed. He then went home, grabbed a kitchen knife and went looking for this person."

Recep Ghar, 28, a manager at the George pub, said: "I saw lots of people but we had already shut by the time it happened and I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with any of our customers."

Police have confirmed a man was attacked and are now appealing for witnesses.

A spokesman said: "The victim was attacked by a young man with a knife who appeared to be in the queue. He did not call emergency services at that point but police were called by a member of the public and caught up with him in George Street."

Det Insp Liz Baker said: "We are looking at CCTV from the area and believe there were in the region of 50 to 100 people in the queue. We are sure many of them will have seen what happened."

The suspect is described as a light skinned black man aged about 21 years old, 6'5" tall, of medium build wearing a light grey hooded top with his hood up.

The victim was taken to a south London hospital for treatment to several stab wounds.

He was later released and is said to be comfortable.

Anyone with information should call 020 8649 0088 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.

There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.