The Mafia series has long stood in the shadow of Grand Theft Auto, what with it being a crime focused open world experience. It also has the misfortune of being under the same publisher, which in the past has pushed it even further away from Rockstar's flagship title.
According to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick during an investor call (via GameSpot) the two shouldn't necessarily be compared. When talking about Mafia III in regards to GTA, Zelnick said that it is a:
completely different experience. I wouldn't compare it to anything else out there. The reveal was great, but it stands alone.
He then went on to say that Grand Theft Auto doesn't have a comparison, at least where Take-Two are concerned:
We don't use any other game in the same sentence as Grand Theft Auto. It is the industry's standard-bearer. It's not up for comparison.
Take-Two don't need two competing franchises under their roof, so I really hope this does lead to Mafia III being something distinct. As I said when the game was revealed last week, the historical undertones this game could have… it's quite exciting.