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GTA V: release date rumour roundup and new screenshots

With the fireworks and flying champagne corks now less than 12 hours away, the 2013 rumour mill is about to start churning away in earnest, and few products are being as eagerly anticipated as Grand Theft Auto V, the latest title in Rockstar's epic gangster series.

So far, all we know officially is that Rockstar is due to launch GTA V in Spring 2013. The game studio has teased us with a few screenshots and trailers so far, pointing to three main controllable characters - Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. Helicopters, parachutes, and of course a bevy of suped up cars are some of things we're expecting to see, and now various retail sources are encouraging us to get out the highlighter and make for the wall calendar.

To begin with, an alleged Amazon leak grabbed the spotlight when it pinpointed GTA V's exact time of arrival as March 26. However, pretty much as soon as this rumour had dropped, it was being refuted - not only by the retailer, who pulled the date, but by industry insiders as well.

Online gamer hub Gamepur, for one, pointed out that a March release was unlikely due to the wealth of high-profile titles expect to drop then.

"March 2013 is already a busy month with a number of new games, which include Fuse, God of War: Ascension and Tomb Raider. This healthy competition could prove a Double-edged sword for all the above mention games (including GTA V and BioShock Infinite). With GTA V being the most anticipated games of 2013, Take-Two and Rockstar would like to have a clear path for it's release," it said.

Excusing the dodgy grammar and spelling, it's a fair enough perspective: putting aside external competition, Rockstar-owner Take-Two Interactive's March release of BioShock Infinite would mean it had two titles in direct rivalry.

So when should interested parties be looking to book the day - or the week, if we're being totally honest - off from work?

According to high street entertainment outlet HMV, 4 April is the day to earmark, though retail behemoth ASDA has a different prediction entirely - its GTA V pre-order page sports a 17 May release date. Sellers are clearly spread betting across Spring 2013, so the lesson here is surely than all reports not originating from the producer itself should be regarded with a healthy amount of scepticism.

More substantially, Rockstar has teased the gamer community with a new series of GTA V screenshots (see slideshow, below), no doubt upping the salivation levels of virtual carjackers across the globe. There's a new image of the three protagonists looking suitably shady (see top), and we're also led to believe we can expect sharks, a rottweiler with a pink collar in a vintage whip, and something that looks like a submarine.

Stay tuned for more, as ITProPortal will be amping up its dedicated consumer and home tech coverage in 2013.