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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV sets record for debut

Take-Two Interactive Software scored more than $500 million in global sales of criminal action game "Grand Theft Auto IV" in its first week, marking what it said on Wednesday is one of the most lucrative entertainment events in history.

The interactive software publisher, which is facing a takeover offer from rival Electronic Arts Inc, said it sold about 3.6 million units globally at its debut on April 29, and some 6 million units in total in the week.

Retail chains such as GameStop and Best Buy Co Inc took advance orders for weeks of "GTA 4," which has been lavished with near-universal accolades.

The first-week sales of "Grand Theft Auto," a game hailed as a brutal and satirical masterpiece equal to films like "The Godfather," beat the $400 million scored by last year's "Halo 3" from Microsoft.

"'Grand Theft Auto IV's" first-week performance represents the largest launch in the history of interactive entertainment, and we believe these retail sales levels surpass any movie or music launch to date," Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick said.

Made by Take-Two's Rockstar studio, the game casts players as an Eastern European immigrant who runs drugs, shoots cops and beats up prostitutes after falling in with a crime syndicate -- stuff that has drawn fire from family groups and politicians.

Take-Two shares closed on Tuesday at $26.35 on Nasdaq, higher than EA's offer price of $25.74 per share. Take-Two management has rejected EA's offer as too low and has suggested that it might start discussions once the game was launched. Reuters

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