Take-Two Interactive and Irrational Games have delayed BioShock Infinite's release to early next year -- which could give Take-Two room to ship Grand Theft Auto V this October instead.
Irrational Games' creative director Ken Levine claims the delay is due to improvements needed for the game, but some analysts believe Rockstar Games (also a Take-Two subsidiary) and its upcoming GTA V are to blame for the schedule change.
"We speculate that once Rockstar Games notified Take-Two that GTA V would be ready by October, Take-Two gave Irrational Games the option to spend more time fine-tuning BioShock Infinite," says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter adds, "We don't think that this is a coordinated move by the development teams, but we acknowledge the possibility. If GTA V does not hit the shelves for the December quarter, we think it will be unlikely to see both games launched in the March quarter."
By pushing BioShock Infinite's release into next year and putting out Grand Theft Auto V in its place, Take-Two can avoid having its two blockbuster games compete against each other during the holiday season. The distributor will also be able to focus its management and marketing teams, as well as its retail coordination efforts on one title at a time.
It's also worth noting that almost all prior GTA releases have shipped in October, and that Take-Two has not updated its earnings forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 -- Pachter says it's doubtful the company will achieve its guidance without a GTA release.
BioShock Infinite, first announced last summer and due to be published under Take-Two label 2K Games for the Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows PC, will now ship worldwide on February 26, 2013.
Though Rockstar hasn't revealed a release date or many details about GTA V yet, Take-Two could announce its release timing for the game as soon as May 22 when the company reports its earnings for the fourth quarter, or at E3 (June 5-7).