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Take-Two: Grand Theft Auto remains special because it's not annual

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The risks of annual franchises

The Grand Theft Auto series has shipped 125 million units since its launch in 1997, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick announced during a presentation at the Credit Suisse 2012 Technology Conference attended by Gamespot.

This is up 11 million units since September of last year when Take-Two announced lifetime shipments of 114 million units. According to one representative, Grand Theft Auto 4 represents 25 million of the total 125 million games shipped.

The success of the long-running series is a result of Take-Two's avoidance of annual releases which, according to Zelnick, keeps the series "special." While franchises like Call of Duty see year-on-year success, Zelnick highlighted the danger of this business model, stating the publisher is unwilling to take these risks on the GTA series.

"It's our view that if you want intellectual properties to be permanent, then you run the risk in that circumstance of having consumers fall out of love with that franchise," he said. "[Activision] obviously views the world differently."

"That's never been the case with one of ours. Our's do better each time. Our view is it's hard to make permanent intellectual properties if you annualize it, with the exception of sports titles. So far that's proven to be the case. IP that is annualized eventually seems to hit the wall and we don't want our IP to hit the wall."

Grand Theft Auto 5 is scheduled to release during spring of 2013. The series' previous installment, Grand Theft Auto 4, was launched in 2008.