Sometimes it takes a giant to slay a giant, and in the case of video games there is no bigger giant than Activision‘s Call of Duty franchise. A perennial “best selling game of the year” title holder, Call of Duty is poised to continue said tradition in 2013, that is if it can fend off some pretty stiff competition.

Leading the charge for 2013 is Rockstar Games‘ forthcoming sequel Grand Theft Auto 5, which has been a hot button topic since its announcement. Even a delay into September earlier this week has only emphasized how badly gamers want to play this game.

So, with the tremendous amount of fan anticipation and a really strong player base, it appears very likely that Grand Theft Auto 5 will pose the greatest threat to Call of Duty, in terms of being labeled the best selling game of the year. As Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia suggests, if Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two Interactive played their cards right, they could be looking at up to 25 million units sold.

That number, of course, would require a huge marketing effort from Take-Two, somewhere in the neighborhood of $109.3 million. Added to an estimated development cost (from Bhatia) of $137.5 million, and that makes Grand Theft Auto 5 quite the pricey endeavor.

Thankfully, even if the title were to move a conservative 15 million copies, Take-Two would likely pull in more than $193.6 million in operating profit. However, if Grand Theft Auto 5 does reach that 25 million figure, it could end up with close to $390.8 million in operating profit, and more importantly the title of best selling game of 2013.

Bhatia believes that an 18 million unit tally is the more likely number, which should also be enough to secure the 2013 title. As far as competitive expectations there is only a slight mention of the next Call of Duty title — assumed to be Modern Warfare 4 — and no sales estimates mentioned. Despite strong sales numbers, this was the first year since the release of Modern Warfare that the franchise saw a slight dip in units sold. Granted, it was still good enough to label Black Ops 2 the best selling game of 2012, but some signs of consumer fatigue are there.

With a fall season that includes a new Grand Theft Auto, another Call of Duty, and potentially two new consoles, gamers could be looking at a very expensive year. Or conversely, parents could be looking at some very expensive Christmas lists.

Do you think that Grand Theft Auto 5 will be the best selling game of 2013? Will the game exceed expectations?

Grand Theft Auto 5 hits store shelves on September 17, 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Source: Games Industry

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