Xbox 360 version of GTAIV to outsell PS3 version 2 to 1

The release of Grand Theft Auto is huge for gamers because it represents the pinnacle of next-gen gaming, its huge for Take-Two because it is expected to earn them a much needed $400 million in the first week, and is huge for Microsoft and Sony because it’s the next big battle in the console war.

Both Microsoft and Sony have hit the campaign trail hard in an attempt to convince gamers that it’s their console and not the competitors that will offer the best Grand Theft Auto IV experience. Sony is betting that their giant PS2 install base will entice gamers to make the PS3 their platform of choice, while Microsoft hopes the promise of exclusive DLC, and a more active online user base will tip the scale in their favor. Either way, Rockstar’s latest has the ability to set the tone for the rest of console war.

Today ex-simExchange analyst Jesse Divnich, using data from the simExchange, NPD, IGN GamerMetrics and Gametrailers, has predicted that Microsoft will come out the victor. Divnich took several of GTA’s key “selling points” in to account, including: downloadable content, mass-marketing, multiplayer, graphics, sandbox gameplay, strong install base, and then compared GTA to other multi-platform games that have similar selling points (Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Army of Two, and Devil May Cry 4). Divnich found that games like Rainbow Six Vegas 2 with a heavy emphasis on multiplayer tend to sell better on the Xbox 360. While more mainstream games like Army of Two that also have extensive marketing campaigns are more neutral. And finally, games like Devil May Cry 4, with its large PS2 fan base tend to favor the PS3.

What does this all mean? Well taking all factors into consideration Divnich predicts that the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 4 will out sell the PS3 version 2.2 units to 1, thus giving Microsoft a much sought after and needed victory. Divnich did add some counter-point to his own predictions: “simExchange is expecting a 1.65 to 1 Xbox 360 to PS3 sales ratio for Grand Theft Auto IV, which, if true, would indicate a PS3 ‘victory’, at least in terms of percentage of total installed base purchasing the game.”

[See also: Grand Theft Auto IV gallery]