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Early 2013 GTA 5 release, possible Wii U version - analyst

Game expected to avoid Call of Duty clash by launching between January and March

While Take-Two has yet to confirm a launch window for Grand Theft Auto V, Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia is now reporting based on retail channel checks that the game's likely to receive an early 2013 release.

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He expects GTA V to launch in the publisher's fourth fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2013, and also highlighted a potential Wii U version in a note sent to investors (via GamesIndustry).

Bhatia outlined four advantages of launching GTA V during this window:

1) a less crowded window away from the big holiday releases such as Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed etc. Recall, the previous GTA title (GTA IV) was released on April 29, 2008, i.e., also away from the holiday period; 2) smoother earnings in FY14 especially if GTA V launches in the last month of FY13 (March 2013); in other words it will result in stronger GTA V catalog sales in FY14; 3) a larger installed base including the potential for launch on Nintendo Wii U; and 4) an extra couple of months to polish the game.

Earlier this month, it was claimed that 2K Czech has been contributing to GTA V development for almost a year, putting its cinematic expertise to work producing animations for cutscenes and gameplay, while also working on the as-yet-unannounced Mafia III.

In February, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said GTA V "is making great process" and that it "promises to continue Rockstar's incredible track record of delighting fans by raising the bar in interactive entertainment".

Rockstar also said: "Right now, we are very hard at work on the game and are excited as well to show and tell you more as development progresses - expect that we'll be talking much more about GTA V starting at some point in a few months' time."

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