Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO ) promised to release a Grand Theft Auto V trailer yesterday.
It did. The long-awaited follow-up to 2008's then record-breaking Grand Theft Auto IV has been rumored for years, but yesterday's slick video seems to indicate that the game is ready to roll soon. Unfortunately, we don't know exactly when that will be.
Take-Two has kept this one close to the vest. There has been no mention of a possible release date. Even in its most recent quarterly earnings release -- where Take-Two listed titles that it doesn't expect to launch until fiscal 2013 -- there was no mention of Grand Theft Auto V.
Diehard gamers were probably hoping for a release date at the end of the trailer, but no dice. It just seems as if Take-Two deliberately timed this release between the blockbuster releases of Electronic Arts' (Nasdaq: ERTS ) Battlefield 3 and Activision Blizzard's (Nasdaq: ATVI ) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to remind players that the franchise isn't dead after all.
Take-Two shareholders would love to revisit the Grand Theft Auto IV days, when EA offered to buy Take-Two for as much as $26 a share.
Take-Two is a more diversified gaming company now -- with more than a few quality franchises outside of GTA -- but spotty profitability and release delays have kept the stock in the teens and pre-teens for years since it told EA to take a hike.
Just the whiff of Grand Theft Auto V would have probably sent EA back on the bidding block a couple of years ago, but we live in different times. Casual and social gaming is the growth ticket of choice, and it's why Zynga may very well go public at a market cap larger than all three traditional gaming software companies combined.
This doesn't mean that Take-Two is stuck as a swinging single just because EA's acquisitions have turned social and once potential buyer Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) has scaled back its gaming dreams.
We can't forget that Sony (NYSE: SNE ) is as desperate as ever, and nabbing Take-Two to make its games exclusive to PlayStation would make the PS3 relevant. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) doesn't need Take-Two, but it's rich enough to make sure that it keeps Take-Two out of Sony's grabbing hands.
The game is on -- even if we don't know when the game itself will start.
If you want to see how this game plays out, add Take-Two Interactive Software to My Watchlist.