Some analysts say it might based on the over-the-top reviews the long-awaited video game is receiving today in the first few hours following the expiration of the company’s embargo for critics. The first new Grand Theft Auto (GTA) since April 2008 officially goes on sale at midnight, and 37 critics so far have given the Xbox 360 version an average score of 98 on Metacritic. If that holds, then it would be the best-reviewed Xbox 360 game ever, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter notes. He expects 14M copies of the game to be sold by the end of this month — which would translate into sales of as much as $900M — and possibly 24M units over the life of the game. GameStop plans several midnight openings to accommodate the GTA fans. That could mean worldwide sales of 6.5M units, or at least $400M, on Day One says Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia. (Last year Call Of Duty: Black Ops II sold $500M on its first day.) If the analysts are right, then it could be a big deal for Take-Two Interactive, the parent of GTA developer Rockstar Games. Its stock price has appreciated about 60% over the last 12 months, and GTA V will be its biggest game launch. Bulls say that there’s a lot of pent-up demand for the title, which was originally supposed to be released earlier this year. In addition, there are about three times as many Xbox 360 and PS3 owners than there were when the last version was out, and more fans who feel comfortable downloading games.

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