If you drove past a GameStop (GME) this morning, you probably saw a long line of people waiting to pick up their copy of Grand Theft Auto V.
GTA V is the latest entry in Take-Two Interactive’s (TTWO) wildly popular and controversial video game series. The Grand Theft Auto franchise is one of the best-selling of all time, and it continually stirs opinion thanks to its violent premise and sexual content. So far, that controversy has only fueled sales.
GTA V has already smashed pre-order records, and is expected to chase sales records. It has some pretty stiff competition in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which earned $500 million in its first 24 hours. But analysts are predicting that GTA V could earn $400 million in sales its first day, and that estimate has been gradually growing. The game includes new features such as interactive bystanders and in-game stock markets where players can invest in companies.
However, the rest of the game publishing world isn’t sitting quietly. Among some of the other big names on the gaming front:
- Electronic Arts: Next week, Electronic Arts (EA) will release FIFA 14, another entry for the soccer series whose franchise sales rival those of Grand Theft Auto. While not as popular as the Madden franchise in the states, the FIFA franchise is a worldwide draw. FIFA 13 sold 4.5 million copies in the first five days of release, making it the biggest sports game launch ever at the time — and next week’s entry is expected to at least repeat that performance.
- Activision-Blizzard: Not to be outdone, Activision-Blizzard (ATVI) will release Skylanders: Swap Force next month. The Skylanders series uses physical toys equipped with NFC capabilities to connect to video game consoles. The games have proven immensely popular, earning $1.5 billion after just two games. In fact, Skylanders Giants is the best-selling video game so far in 2013, and Skylanders toys are outselling every other action figure line this year, including perennial heavyweights Star Wars and Transformers.
- Nintendo: And then we have Nintendo (NTDOY). The company is praying that new software releases will boost its sagging hardware. Next month, it will release Pokémon X and Pokémon Y — new installments in the No. 2 video game franchise — for the 3DS and 2DS. Nintendo recently took a page out of the Activision playbook, announcing a line of Pokémon toys that will interact with an upcoming game. The company is also releasing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for the Wii U, and offering the console in lower-priced bundles with the game.
We’re down to the last few months before Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE) release their next-gen consoles, so if these titles perform, they’ll be doing so against a new-system wall — a good sign of health for the gaming industry.
Adam Benjamin is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities; however, he does own a whole bunch of Pokémon games.