Did you buy Grand Theft Auto IV yet? Well, apparently a lot of us did. Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., owner of the open-ended carjack caper, scored more than $500 million in global sales of the criminal action game in just its first week alone, marking what it said on Wednesday is one of the most lucrative entertainment events in history.
Created by the company’s Rockstar studio, the critically acclaimed computer game sold approximately 3.6 million units globally in its first day on store shelves, and some 6 million units in total during the week. Those are eye-popping numbers, by any standard, exceeding the sales expectations of most analysts.
"We knew Grand Theft Auto IV would break new ground in terms of the players’ experience, with its compelling story line, extraordinary gameplay and action that ranges over a broad urban canvas." said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman of Take-Two.
Take-Two is hopeful that high sales will increase the company's value and improve the company's bargaining position with competitor Electronic Arts (EA), which has been trying to purchase the publisher with a stock buy-out during the past several weeks. The current hostile takeover offer from EA is reported to be $2 billion. It will help the company make the case that the buy-out offer EA has made is too low.
The game, which has drawn harsh criticism from family groups and politicians, casts the video gamer in the role of a violent character that steals cars, kills cops and gang bangers, runs over pedestrians, gets drunk, visits strip clubs, and has sex with prostitutes.
Because of its graphic nature, mature content, and often disturbing realism, the outcry from critics has been loud. The Parents Television Council (PTC) is calling for retailers to keep GTA IV – rated M for mature – away from children.
"Legally, stores cannot sell children pornographic magazines or handguns –- but they can legally sell video games to children that contain pornographic content or that teach children how to kill," PTC's Tim Winter said in a statement. "This is wrong, and retailers should ensure that unaccompanied minors are prevented from purchasing Grand Theft Auto IV."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is upset that players can get drunk and drive.
Chris Baker of Slate.com writes, "The violence is no longer cartoonish. Shoot an innocent bystander, and you see his face contort in agony. He'll clutch at the wound and begin to stagger away, desperately seeking safety."
As for the producers at Rockstar Games, they’ve boasted they don’t make toys, they make art. So if you take away the game’s criminal themes, there is no GTA IV.
"Rockstar's goal is to make each new title in the Grand Theft Auto franchise even better than those that preceded it, and Grand Theft Auto IV is a smashing success on that score,” said Ben Feder, Take-Two's Chief Executive Officer. “Grand Theft Auto IV makes full use of the power of next generation technology, and offers players an experience unique in the interactive entertainment medium. This game sets a new standard in the industry, with critics hailing it as both an artistic and technological masterpiece."
Take-Two shares closed Tuesday at $26.35 per share, higher than EA's most recent offer of $25.74. The company traded at just over $17 before EA made its offer.
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