With the confirmation of Grand Theft Auto V's September release date, and tease of the PS4 announcement coming only a day apart, I was left wondering what the imminent arrival of the 'next generation' meant for one of gaming's biggest franchises.
Rumours currently on Eurogamer point to a US and Japan PS4 release in time for Christmas, with Europe to follow soon after (perhaps like the Vita did and come some time in February). That leaves GTAV only a couple months or so grace period before we're all sucked up into the hype of Playstation 4.
How will this affect sales? How will this affect the GTAV, or conversely, how will GTAV affect PS4? It will be impossible to measure, and in the end, there could be no effect at all. However, when the biggest game of the year, and perhaps the last 5 years (since the release of GTAIV) releases only weeks shy of a new hardware system that it potentially won't be available on (we've had no confirmations about specs of the PS4- it could be backward compatible), then there's bound to be some cut-through.
Let's look at some numbers- a recent article on gamesindustry.biz ( http://www.gamesindustry.bi... suggests GTAV will sell somewhere in the vicinity of 15 million to 25 million units, with the bulk of those sales occurring in its first 6 months on the market. Presuming the PS4 releases in the US and Japan in time for Christmas, and in Europe shortly thereafter, most of those sales will occur in the immediate launch window of the PS4.
That could have a direct impact on the initial success, or marketing push of the PS4, or conversely GTAV. GTAV is perhaps the last third-party hoorah on PS3 and therefore there'll be a lot of attention swirling around it, and the PS3 right around the time of the expected launch of the PS4. While we all fully expect Sony to support the PS3 for a long time to come, throwing a game of the calibre of GTAV into the mix when your trying to focus attention on your new hardware seems counter-intuitive. It's giving limelight to your old hardware at the time you need it on your new hardware.
To me then, this presents three alternate scenarios. The first and most obvious is, I'm over analysing this whole thing, and there'll be not net effect whatsoever. However, I feel that this is unlikely given the $1 billion plus sales GTAV is likely to fetch in the face of a new hardware launch (also remembering there's Microsoft and their console(s) here- but lets forget them for the sake of this blog post). That's money and attention Sony would probably rather see going to the establishment of their new hardware.
The second alternative is GTAV will make an appearance on next gen- looking either the same or being tweaked somewhat to take advantage of the greater hardware capability. It happened at the turnover of this generation and the last, where games made appearances on both platforms, so there's no reason why it couldn't happen here. It would give a new console the boost it needed at launch with such a huge franchise being playable from the get-go.
The third alternative is a 2013 announcement of the PS4 for a 2014 release. I fully expect that we will not hear very much detail about PS4 come 20 February. It's more likely to give us a tease of the hardware, a quick glimpse, and a showcase of upcoming games, than a full blow reveal. Remember that 2013 is shaping up to be one of the PS3's biggest years for new and impressive game releases. Sony runs the risk of sucking the oxygen out of their 2013 release schedule while baiting people to wait for the imminent arrival of the next gen.
Regardless, it'll be an exciting year for Playstation gamers in 2013 and beyond, and I'm looking forward to every second of it. Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts.