GTA IV expected to sell 9 million copies at launch

Two years after it was announced and delayed, GTA IV launches tonight with little marketing and big dreams. It’s expected to sell 9 million copies at launch and make $400 million in the first week for Rockstar Games and Take-Two who is currently fending off EA in the hopes that GTA IV will up the ante. EA has already extended their offer but dropped their initial offering of $26/share to just under that. There’s a lot riding on this game. Based on earlier reviews posted today, Take-Two’s stock is pricing at around $26.47/share, but went as high as $27.10.

But their lack of blitzkrieg marketing is a testament to the fanbase and Rockstar’s desire to keep things under wraps until launch. They want the hype to be created by someone other than themselves. They know the deal. They’ve been working on it for over two years. Of course, the game leaked onto the Web last week, but that shouldn’t hurt their numbers in any way. They’ve virtually done zero marketing for this game, which amazes me. Aside from the murals on buildings and some guerilla marketing on the streets, it’s been relatively quiet. You may recall seeing Halo 3 promotions at Burger King, 7-11 and other random places, but I don’t really think MS/Bungie needed to drop that much dough. The game was going to sell no matter what. The demand is even higher since it’s going across both next-gen platforms and not just the Playstation. The addition of a new multiplayer mode will surely crash Xbox servers tonight. When it does, blame Microsoft and not Rockstar. They know the deal, but MS isn’t listening.

The franchise has been shrouded with controversy for years over one thing or another. Senator Hillary Clinton being one of its biggest critics. Most of you will remember the uproar over the mini-game involving some sex acts with sellers of sex in San Andreas. But it’s mostly the violence that occurs in the games that get everyone into an uproar. I was just reading the latest issue of GQ on the plane this morning and Sam Houser was interviewed and he had some pretty compelling arguments as to why game lobbyists are a bunch of dumbasses. Ok, he didn’t say they were dumbasses, but I am. I can’t directly pull quotes because I forgot it on the plane, but he drew comparisons to The Sopranos. Anything that’s happened in any GTA title has happened in an episode of the now defunct mob drama. And it’s true. There isn’t anything we haven’t already seen before. I will agree that it’s not right for kids, but that’s not really Rockstar’s problem. Parents should be regulating and that’s just a whole other can of worms that I’d rather steer clear of. I also think it’s stupid that Rockstar had to edit the game for Australia. Why would people even want to buy an edited version?

Who’s excited? Anyone standing on line for the midnight launch?