‘Grand Theft Auto V’ coming

Rockstar, Take-Two tease gaming crown jewel

Ending months of speculation, Take-Two Interactive Software and Rockstar Games have finally confirmed that “Grand Theft Auto V” is on the way.

The developer teased the game on its website Tuesday, announcing it would release a trailer for the game on Nov. 2.

The “Grand Theft Auto” series is the crown jewel at Take-Two and one of the videogame industry’s most successful franchises. Popular with mass audiences yet vilified for its violence, the series defined the open world style of play, letting players choose what they wanted to do rather than setting them on a linear path.

The six games in the series have sold more than 114 million units — and “GTA V” is widely expected to be the most popular game in the series so far. Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia says the game could see sales of up to 25 million units in its first year.

The last installment in the game, “GTA IV,” sold 17 million units in its first year. Since that time, the install base of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 has grown significantly due to time and price cuts. Bhatia expects it to be 125% higher when “GTA V” is released (another detail not mentioned in today’s reveal).

His thinking: If 90% of “GTA IV” owners buy a copy of “GTA V,” and only 10% of the incremental install base buy the game, then sales would still surpass 20 million units.

“Grand Theft Auto IV” shattered entertainment industry sales records in 2008 with first-week sales of $500 million. The “Call of Duty” franchise has since reset those records twice (and is likely to do so again this year with “Modern Warfare 3”), but “Grand Theft Auto” could reset the bar.

The game has always had a Hollywood tone to it, enlisting film veterans such as Michael Madsen, Ray Liotta, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pantoliano and Robert Loggia to do voicework. Despite many studio attempts to woo Rockstar into making a bigscreen version of “GTA,” however, the company has always resisted.

“We’re not per se against moving properties between different media, but for ‘GTA’ it just seems so perfect as a game,” company co-founder Dan Houser told Variety. “You lose a lot of what makes it what it is if you move it into being, say, a movie. It just never seemed interesting creatively. We’re not really interested in them doing it.”

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