As Rockstar's contract with Take-Two approaches its early 2009 expiration, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey is weighing in on what the next step might be for the Houser brothers and their well-reputed team.
Dan Houser recently told Nintendo Power magazine that Grand Theft Auto on the Wii "didn't feel natural to us" and that he favored the "interesting challenges" and the "chance to use mini-games" offered by the Nintendo DS with Chinatown Wars, Hickey predicts that a GTA game for the iPhone could be next.
"We expect GTA will likely be ported to Apple’s iPhone platform, leveraging the device’s touch screen technology and accelerometer," says Hickey. "Apple’s determination to layer gaming applications into the device’s consumer value proposition and growing installed base is likely sufficient motivation for a deal."
Of course, much of Rockstar's future moves depend on where the studio ends up. At its analyst day, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said his company's "definitely become the destination location for independently minded entrepreneurial talent," leading investors to speculate, according to Hickey, that Activision might bid for Rockstar when it becomes available.
Not so fast, the analyst says: "We find it unlikely that the Houser brothers would leave Take-Two Interactive for a competitor, as loyalty, compensation, culture and compelling IP should be sufficient in aggregate to leave employment alternatives unappealing."