Take-Two and Rockstar are expected to release two brand new downloadable episodes for Grand Theft Auto IV in fiscal 2010, and release GTA V the following financial year.
That's according to analyst Todd Mitchell, who told GamesIndustry.biz that following the release of Xbox 360 exclusives The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, two all-new episodes are due – possibly across both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms.
"I would expect that there would be two more pieces of downloadable content for GTA IV, that's what has been indicated to me, although formats are unsure. It's been indicated to me to me that would be the case," said Mitchell, of Kaufman Bros. Equity Research.
Mitchell also stated that he's expecting Grand Theft Auto V to be released in the 2011 financial year, and there's also the possibility of a new GTA title for the PlayStation 2 next year.
"Coming out of E3 there was no commitment to a new Grand Theft Auto, and I think that's because of Rockstar's track record with delivering on time," said Mitchell.
"Of the three, I'm least confident in saying for sure there will be a new GTA for PlayStation 2, but the track record shows that PSP titles have been repositioned [on PS2]," he said, referring to the recent announcement of GTA: Chinatown Wars for the PSP.
Despite all the talk of Rockstar's biggest franchise, Kaufman Bros. has upgraded Take-Two to a 'buy' rating because the publisher is demonstrating that it no longer needs to rely on GTA to score blockbuster hits.
Newly announced Rockstar title Agent will be released in 2010, said the company, along with an as-yet unannounced title from 2K Games
"We believe Take-Two has a solid line-up for fiscal 2010 even without a GTA V release," noted Kaufman Bros.
"Our outlook includes expected strong sell-through of Bioshock 2, and the release of two 'AAA' titles, each from Rockstar (Red Dead Redemption and Agent) and 2K Games (Mafia II and TBD), reiterations of 2K Sports and 2K Play's annual line-ups, an expected GTA title for the PS2, expected strong sell-through of GTA: Chinatown Wars for the PSP, and new GTA DLC for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
"We now look for the release of GTA V in fiscal 2011, and believe IP introduced in fiscal 2010 can be turned into iterative franchises that will improve Take-Two's long-term earnings profile by lessening its dependence on GTA," said the firm.
Mitchell added: "What we're saying is Take-Two is now becoming a proper company rather than a one hit wonder. After GTA V in 2011, they can come back with more franchises and not be forced to rely on that every other year," he said.
Kaufman Bros. expects fiscal 2010 revenue for Take-Two to hit USD 1.3 billion, and USD 1.6 billion in 2011 with a GTA V release.
"Now that this shoe has dropped, and a case can be made for solid profitability in fiscal 2010 without GTA V, and the follow-on of higher earnings in fiscal 2011 with a GTA V release, we believe the investment case for Take-Two has improved and investors can begin to get more constructive with the name."