Market research company Newzoo has made the bold prediction that Grand Theft Auto V will be released as a digital-only product.
The prediction comes just hours ahead of the official debut trailer which is due for release at 16:00GMT today.
"There are a lot of reasons why publishers are pushing towards digital distribution of triple-A games,” Newzoo's report states. Speaking out loud might harm the relationship with retail partners, but the benefits have become too large to remain silent about the desire to go completely digital.
The ultimate objective being to launch games faster, create continuous revenues on a title and simply to make more money. Will retail disappear from the picture? Of course not. Retail will always remain an important channel to promote and distribute games. Retail has a strong hand to play when it comes to eyeballs and… boxes make a nice gift.
Boxed games will not disappear, but what is in the box will. That is why the boxedGTA Vversion will contain a collectible piece of merchandise and a download code. No disc."
Though MCV doesn't believe Newzoo is correct, the outside chance of a digital-only release was alluded to on this site last week.
However, on the presumption that GTA V will be released for the current generation of machines it's almost impossible to believe that Rockstar would choose to alienate such a large proportion of its potential target audience by adopting the strategy.
Not only do a high percentage of console owners have a small capacity HDD (or in the case of some Xbox 360 owners, no hard drive at all), but internet infrastructure would make the downloading of such a vast game – likely to be 8GB at the very, very least – a very unsavoury proposition for many.