With GTA V missing its Q2 release date and being confirmed for 19th September worldwide, several things will be affected.
To begin with, the Take Two public earnings conference call is taking place in only a few days time, where we can expect to see a dramatic realignment of its revenue this year.
The slippage takes significant pressure off a heavy lineup of titles for H1 2013, most of which had release dates before May, likely to prevent entering the market with GTA already on sale. These titles now have a bit of breathing room and can afford a month or two’s delay if necessary for polish.
Meanwhile, for the first time since GTA: San Andreas, a new home console major GTA game will be hitting in the vital Christmas period. When GTA IV was slated for an October release (prior to its delay to Q2 2009), it was the quietest release schedule for October home releases the industry had seen.
Since that time, however, Call of Duty has repeatedly broken its own record for sales and appears like clockwork during that crucial sales season. Assuming Activision comes out with another title on schedule this year, it’ll mark the first time both mega-blockbusters have gone head-to-head.
Meanwhile, with the new Microsoft and Sony hardware being tipped for release at the end of this year, speculation is rife that the game might end up as a launch title on the new consoles.
Dan Houser, however, said in an interview with Famitsu (translated by Polygon):
Rockstar is a content company, not a hardware company. We use the technology we have to create content, and we try not to let ourselves get beholden to the hardware.The fact that hardware’s so mature right now is exactly why we’re able to go on to the next level.
GTA 4 was our first attempt at a new platform and HD visuals, so the first part of development was seriously difficult. Now we know what the hardware’s capable of, so it’s become a lot easier to move things along and a lot more fun, too.
GTA: San Andreas came out at the peak of the PlayStation 2’s cycle, and we put out a really good game thanks to that. All the best games for a console come out at the end of the lifecycle, right? So now’s the best timing of all.
With two huge titles known to garners tens of millions of sales each coming out alongside the new consoles, the proposition for sticking with existing consoles is higher than usual.
That said, early-adopters have seldom been price-conscious consumers, so there’s little likelihood it’ll change much on the hardware front.
Where it will make a difference is in B tier software releases and new IP. Amidst the mania of the new consoles and huge title releases, this year’s back end is likely to see much fewer but ultimate much bigger titles, or those which can find their own niche easily. Anything in between may face the unfortunate prospect of releasing as early as August to pre-empt the rush or waiting until early 2014 when the new consoles are already up and running and they risk appearing dated.
This means titles on Wii U, PC or any other new hardware will be comparatively insulated from the fray.
In the mean time we can expect to see a more spaced out H1 2013 and several titles moving well aside come September-November.
In the mean time, here’s an awesome new trailer for Bioshock: Infinite:
UPDATE: I incorrectly put Bioshock Infinite and GTA V in the same fiscal quarter. Bioshock Infinite is actually the last title in Take Two’s fiscal quarter and won’t be impacted by the slippage on the earnings conference call.