The long wait for the next Grand Theft Auto game could be brought to an end next year, its publisher has teased.
Take-Two has not released a new instalment in the acclaimed crime series since 2013, with Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Numerous re-releases for subsequent consoles have helped it become one of the most successful entertainment products ever made, with more than 185 million copies shipped at last count.
Its popular online mode, where players can spend real money on numerous in-game items, has also contributed to generating about $6bn (£4.7bn) in total revenue.
Speaking at an investor call this week, Take-Two executive Lainie Goldstein teased the company was preparing for “record levels of operating performance” in the next financial year – helped by a “significant inflection point”.
Fans were quick to speculate that it could mean Grand Theft Auto 6 could finally arrive within that timeframe, which is between next April and March 2025.
Brendan Sinclair, managing editor of GamesIndustry.biz, told Sky News that Mr Goldstein’s comment was “absolutely a hint” towards the game’s potential release date.
“This is part of a pattern for Take-Two, because the parent company lets GTA developer Rockstar determine its own marketing plans about announcing release windows and the like,” he said.
“At the same time, a new mainline GTA release is the sort of thing that produces a noticeable uptick in sales for the company and Take-Two definitely wants to give investors a heads up on that.”
How British scandal changed landmark game
Rockstar’s games often fall victim to delays, however, given their sheer size and ambition.
GTA V and IV, as well as cowboy epic Red Dead Redemption and its sequel, all got pushed back.
Mr Sinclair said: “I believe Take-Two’s forecast is absolutely a hint about when to expect GTA 6, but I think that might reflect the company’s plan more closely than it reflects what will actually happen.
“Take-Two does have some other big franchises,” he added, “but unless it’s planning to release blockbuster hits from all of them in the same year, I don’t think they could achieve the nearly $3bn in additional revenue they have forecast for fiscal 25 without GTA 6.”
The company and Rockstar have been mostly silent about the title, only confirming development last year.
Footage later leaked in what was one of the most high-profile cybersecurity breaches in the industry’s history, but executives insisted it would not impact work on the game.
The footage appeared to confirm it would be set in Vice City, a fictionalised version of Miami from previous games, starring two protagonists including the first playable female character in the series’ history.
The long wait means it has already become the biggest gap between new entries since the series began in 1997.