GTAIV UK release date set?

Trade mag MCV reports that Rockstar Games' latest will launch April 25, barely squeaking into previously announced release window.

RUMOR CONTROL: Source: A report citing "senior industry sources" on the site of UK trade mag MCV says Grand Theft Auto IV is set for an April 25 launch in the UK.

What we heard: The original release date for Grand Theft Auto IV was announced by Peter Moore at Microsoft's E3 2006 press conference. When that date (October 16, 2007 in North America) proved to be too optimistic, Take-Two officially delayed the game, saying it would instead arrive during the second quarter of its fiscal year 2008, which runs from February through April next year.

Last month, rumors that the game would be delayed again flared up after comments from Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick at a financial summit were widely misreported. Zelnick himself came out to squash those rumors publicly, reiterating that the publisher would still have the game on shelves sometime within the previously announced three-month window.

Now MCV is reporting that Grand Theft Auto IV has a release date, and that it will just barely make it inside the release window. According to the site, GTA IV will launch in the UK on Friday, April 25. As for where that information comes from, MCV sites "senior industry sources" in the story's deck head, and "sources close to the game's publisher" in the body text.

Unnamed sources are always tricky. Beyond simply assessing if a source is in a position to know the truth of any given situation, there is also an issue of whether or not the information being passed along is finalized or still in flux.

MCV has previously cited unnamed sources with varying degrees of accuracy. Last year unspecified sources told the publication the Wii would debut for £149 in the UK by November 24, 2006; the system actually launched December 8 of that year and cost £179. More recently, this week's announcement that the 2008 E3 Media and Business Summit will be held in the Los Angeles Convention Center ran contrary to an unsourced MCV story from July stating that the event was leaving the LA area entirely.

In its defense, unnamed sources have also served the site well on several occasions. MCV was the first to report that Vivendi Universal Games was acquiring Cold Winter developer Swordfish Studios, and the deal became official the next day. Unspecified industry sources also helped MCV nail down the release date for The Godfather games when Electronic Arts was still keeping mum.

The rumored April 25 UK launch date for Grand Theft Auto IV is in the last week in Take-Two's second fiscal quarter. Given Take-Two's insistence on meeting its release window for Grand Theft Auto IV and how much the company has riding on the game, it does make sense for to give the developers as much time as possible to polish it up before the game ships out.

However, it's not uncommon for publishers to shuffle release dates around, especially four full months before a game is supposed to launch (keep in mind that Grand Theft Auto IV was only two months away from its original release date when Take-Two delayed it). MCV's source may be well-connected and April 25th may be the publisher's current UK target, but that doesn't necessarily mean the release date set in stone just yet.

Zelnick was implying as much yesterday in a conference call following the release of Take-Two's quarterly financial report. Responding to a question from an analyst, Zelnick said it wasn't the publisher's intention to be vague, adding, "We'll announce the date when we have the date."

The official story: "This is speculation on MCV's part, we do not comment on rumor or speculation."--a Take-Two representative.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not entirely unlikely, but still leaning bogus.

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