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Grand Theft Auto V coming in Spring 2013

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Grand Theft Auto V (Credit: Rockstar Games)

There's been plenty of speculation about when Rockstar Games would roll out the next installment of Grand Theft Auto, but precious few hard facts.

Rockstar finally pulled back the curtain a little on Tuesday, announcing via its company blog that GTA V will launch worldwide in the spring of 2013. Pre-orders for the game, which will be playable on the Xbox 360 and PS3 (but not, apparently, on the Wii U), will begin on November 5.

Analysts have long expected a Spring 2013 launch for the game, after Rockstar's corporate parent Take-Two Interactive Software gave earnings guidance that wouldn't have been possible unless it expected GTA to release before the end of its corporate year. Most have been looking for a May launch, but "spring" gives the company a window that extends through June. Take-Two had planned to have its second quarter investor call today, but canceled due to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

The rumors got an added boost earlier this week when an employee of UK retailer GAME tweeted out photo showing promotional material with the spring 2013 announcement on it.

Rockstar first unveiled GTA V a year ago but has been largely silent since, aside from a few screen shots. The developer says much more information will crop up in November, likely via an expected Game Informer cover story.

GTA is the crown jewel for Take-Two and Rockstar, a game that's both adored and vilified by the mass market. Players love the franchise's sense of freedom and explosive action, though others have demonized the game due to its violent qualities.

It's also a cash machine. Life to date, the six games in the series have sold over 114 million units -- and GTA V is widely expected to become the most popular game in the series thus far. Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia estimates the game could see sales of up to 25 million copies during its first year.

To put that in perspective: 25 million units would put year one gross sales for GTA V at roughly $1.5 billion. That's good enough for a top five spot on the all-time box office worldwide list, according to BoxOfficeMojo.

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