Analysts Disagree Widely About 'GTA: Chinatown Wars' Sales

One top predicter of video game sales has pegged Rockstar's DS "Grand Theft Auto" for more than twice the sales of another analyest.


The NPD group's sales stats for U.S. video games in March will be released this Thursday. But, before then, top analysts have cast their predictions.

One notable entry in the NPD list will be "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars," as it represents one of the few M-rated games on the system, is one of the few games made to high quality standards for the DS by a third-party, and, of course, the first "GTA" on the platform.

Michael Pachter, the well-established analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, predicts "Chinatown Wars" at 450,000 units for the NPD reporting period ending in early April.

Jesse Divinich, analyst at research group EEDAR, pegs the sales "in the 200k range." He elaborates: "Publishers looking to expand their portfolio at the hint that the Nintendo DS could support more mature rated titles may see these results as a caution; however GTA: Chinatown Wars will most likely post a profit for [its publisher] Take-Two."

Both analysts reported these estimates in e-mails about the NPDs sent this morning to clients.

The performance and potential of M-rated games on the DS remains a mystery, despite the system's more than 100-million-unit global installed base. Sony reps, naturally, have scoffed at the potential of even the powerful "GTA" series on the DS, which is commonly viewed as a system most popular with young children and women, saying their PSP is more ideal for this kind of game.

While some may take Divinich and Pachter's disagreement as an indictment of educated guesswork it can also indicate just how murky the potential for an M-rated market on the DS is.

"GTA Chinatown Wars" remains the highest-scoring game released in the DS' five-year history. Rockstar Games has made no announcements about the "GTA" franchise's future on the platform.

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