Grand Theft Auto V, given all the pre-release hype, should sell a huge amount of copies. According to Sterne Agree analyst Arvind Bhatia, the game might be the best-seller of 2013.
GTA V returns to Los Santos, a fictional version of Los Angeles. Players take on the role of three criminals who team up to perform daring heists. Rockstar announced a September release date for the game earlier this week.
Bhatia estimates that GTA V could sell up to 18 million copies in its first six months The game will accomplish this feat in spite of the crowded holiday season, which may include new consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Its biggest competition will be the newest Call of Duty. He referred to this game as Modern Warfare 4, in keeping with recent rumors.
"[GTA V] is a long-awaited title that consumers are unlikely to pass up and we remain bullish on our outlook for this title and for the company," said Bhatia.
Even if GTA V underperforms, the analyst says that GTA V will more than make back its production budget. Bhatia estimates that the development costs are $137.5 million, and marketing costs will be somewhere between $69 million and $109.3 million. Even if the game sells 15 millon, he believes that Rockstar parent Take-Two will have more than $193.6 million in profit. If the game manages to sell 25 million, perhaps due to more aggressive marketing, Bhatia estimates an operating profit of $390.8 million.
Bhatia's projection of 18 million copies in six months is very optimistic. Grand Theft Auto IV took about two years to sell 15 million copies. The player base for Xbox 360 and PS3 has grown significantly since GTA IV's launch in 2008, though, so Bhatia's estimate doesn't sound outlandish.