First, the facts.
The publisher Take-Two revealed its fourth-quarter financial results on Tuesday, beating analysts’ estimates with $233m (£139m) in sales but reporting a net loss for the period of $30.8m. However, revenue for the whole of fiscal 2014 hit an impressive $2.351bn, double the previous year.
This was thanks in no small part to the arrival of Grand Theft Auto 5. Released by Take-Two’s subsidiary Rockstar Games in September, the game has sold 33m copies to retailers, becoming one of the biggest entertainment launches of all time.
The most exciting news for gamers, however, was that Rockstar will release a game in this financial year, which means before the end of March 2015. Take-Two wouldn’t be drawn on what it will be, or whether there will be an announcement at E3 – although Rockstar rarely attends that event.
So what is it? Naturally, speculation is already rife. Knowing the way that Rockstar tends to reveal major new titles – through a structured period of hands-off and hands-on demos over many months – we should perhaps not expect anything too Earth-shattering. But here are the possibilities currently being touted:
Red Dead Redemption 2
The western epic was a hit for Rockstar in 2010, selling more than 12m copies and garnering rave reviews. Take-Two’s CEO, Strauss Zelnick, mentioned Red Dead in an investor call last year when talking about his aim to establish “permanent franchises”, so it’s clearly in development. But we’d expect much more fanfare in the runup to release. GTA 5, for example, was officially announced in October 2011, almost two years before the launch date.
Revealed (rather precipitously it turns out) as a PlayStation 3 exclusive by Sony in 2009, this mysterious Rockstar North project is apparently a 70s-based conspiracy thriller inspired by movies like The Parallax View and The China Syndrome.
Little has been said on the game since then, and obviously the studio has been sidetracked by GTA 5. However, Rockstar updated the trademark last year, so an announcement could be imminent – probably as a PS4 exclusive. Could Sony have this as the ace up its sleeve for E3 2014? Even if it has, a release in late 2014 is unlikely.
While not a huge financial hit, the 2006 PlayStation 2 title Bully garnered a dedicated fanbase with its anarchic study of life in a New England boarding school.
Filled with offbeat missions, interesting characters and a witty script the game sold in the low millions, and in June 2012 Rockstar assured gamers that a sequel was possible. A month later, however, the studio responsible for the game, Rockstar Vancouver, was closed.
Rockstar Toronto could take up the project, however, and again the trademark has been updated within the last year. Another potential candidate, then, but if any Rockstar game needs a long marketing leadup to remind mainstream gamers what it's all about, it's this one.
Something brand new
Rockstar hasn’t announced a new intellectual property for a long time, so there’s always a chance those cheeky Houser brothers will spring a surprise on everyone. Let's face it, though, with less than 10 months before release it would have to be a smaller project. And Rockstar doesn’t do small. Unless you include Table Tennis.
Grand Theft Auto 5 on PC or Xbox One and PS4
A visually enhanced version of GTA 5, complete with all the additional GTA Online content and a few little extras, is the most likely scenario. Rockstar has often released PC versions of its console games months after release or produced new-generation console versions with extra content – Bully: Scholarship Edition on Xbox 360 and Wii, for example. This is the odds-on favourite for us.
Red Dead Redemption on PC
Rumours of this conversion have been bubbling under for four years, but recently eagle-eyed gamers noticed a listing on a Microsoft PC compatibility site mentioning Red Dead. This would be slightly more low-key than a GTA 5 update, but still a welcome announcement for PC owners, especially if those gorgeous visuals are updated for modern graphics cards.
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