"Grand Theft Auto V," which last September set entertainment industry sales records, is speeding toward the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive Software broke the news late Monday night at Sony's pre-E3 press conference. Although the announcement had been expected, that didn't dampen the response from fans.
Due this fall, the game will receive a graphical overhaul to take advantage of the greatly improved processing capabilities of the new systems from Microsoft and Sony. This should result in more detailed virtual worlds with larger populations.
"'Grand Theft Auto V' looks and feels stunning enhanced by the power of these new platforms," said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games, in a statement. "We can't wait for players to experience a new level of detail to this massive world."
"GTA V," which has sold more than 33 million copies on previous generation systems, exploded out of the gate last September, with day one sales of $800 million and topping $1 billion in its first three days, something no entertainment property — game or movie — has accomplished before.
To encourage many of those fans to repurchase the game for newer systems, Rockstar is allowing the current generation of players to transfer their "Grand Theft Auto Online" characters (from the open world multiplayer portion of the title) from their last-gen system to a next-gen one (or PC).
That sounds small, but it could be a way for Sony to steal customers from Microsoft, since Xbox 360 players can transfer characters to the PS4.
"Grand Theft Auto Online" has been a boon for Take-Two, allowing the game to be a continuing source of revenue as players purchase in-game items. In the company's most recent earnings, Take-Two noted it was the largest contributor to digital revenue for fiscal 2014, taking in $435.1 million.
Although "GTA V" has been a big seller, the game — like its predecessors — has not been without controversy.
Accusations of misogyny, rampant use of racially offensive terms and graphic sexual scenes created some polarizing moments. But the inclusion of a mandatory interactive torture scene — using instruments such as sledgehammers, electric cables and pliers — outraged critics even more.
"Rockstar North [which is owned by Rockstar Games] has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success in the game," said Keith Best, CEO of Freedom from Torture, at the time. "Torture is a reality, not a game and glamorising it in popular culture undoes the work of organisations like Freedom from Torture and survivor activists to campaign against it."
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That controversy was short-lived, though, as the sales performance and critical adulation of the game soon overshadowed it.
"GTA V" is already one of the best selling games of 2014, and catalog sales of the game were one of the biggest revenue sources for Take-Two last quarter.