There's no question that Grand Theft Auto IV will have a massive debut. How massive, exactly? Today, Variety predicted that the Rockstar Games title could be the biggest entertainment-property launch of all time when it goes on sale worldwide on April 29 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The Hollywood trade claims that "sources close to publisher Take-Two Interactive," which owns Rockstar Games, have been tracking how many units of GTAIV they have presold to retailers. According to said sources, the publisher believes that 6 million units of the Rockstar North-developed game will sell during its first week on the market, generating over $400 million in revenue.
If that figure holds out, GTAIV will come close to exceeding the $404 million that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End grossed internationally during its first six days in theaters. It will soundly best the current record holder for a game premiere, Halo 3, which earned $300 million by selling 5 million copies in its first week on the worldwide market last year.
Some analysts have predicted that GTAIV will do even bigger business when it arrives. Last October, Janco Partners' Mike Hickey said that Rockstar's latest could "conceivably" ship 9.5 million units in one week--5.8 million in the US alone. The most popular GTA game to date is 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which has sold nearly 22 million units worldwide to date on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC.
Variety correctly notes that Take-Two will need GTAIV to be a hit of outsized proportions to stave off Electronic Arts' takeover bid, which became hostile on March 13. On Thursday afternoon, Take-Two stockholders will meet to discuss EA's $2 billion, $26-per-share offer, which is a 64 percent markup over the publisher's previous stock price. Late last month, Take-Two management led by chairman Strauss Zelnick asked shareholders to decline EA's offer, which some analysts believe could lead to a GTAIV delay if it is successful.