Japanese consumers rarely have to wait behind the West for video games to reach their shores, but Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto" franchise has been the exception as it has performed poorly in Japan compared with its monster-hit status worldwide. But six months after having launched in the U.S. and Europe, Rockstar's
"GTA IV" was released in Japan, having undergone months of tinkering to concoct ways to take a game heavily steeped in American culture and relate it to the Japanese experience.
Take-Two Interactive Software's monster hit "Grand Theft Auto IV" helped drive gaming retail sales up 37% in May to $1.12 billion, according to marketing-research firm NPD Group. Nintendo's Wii still topped the hardware sales chart, with 675,100 units sold, followed by the company's DS handheld player, with 452,600 devices sold. It was the fourth month in a row that those two devices have headed the list.
Take-Two Interactive, the maker of the "Grand Theft Auto IV" video game, received a huge boost in its fight against a takeover attempt from rival Electronic Arts when "GTA IV" blew through analysts' expectations and grossed $500 million in sales in its first week in release, according to reports. The company is expected to disclose today that it sold 6 million copies of the game. If sales continue to outstrip predictions, analysts say, EA might be forced to increase its bid for Take-Two beyond its initial offer of $25.74 a share.
GameStop is reporting an uptick in PlayStation 3 sales after the release of "Grand Theft Auto IV." "From our position, the launch of 'GTA IV' has been tremendous in driving traffic to our stores, as well as providing a vigorous lift in PS3 console sales over this time last week," said Bob McKenzie, senior vice president, merchandising, at GameStop.
In anticipation of the release of "Grand Theft Auto IV," UBS analyst Ben Schachter is encouraging investors to take into account the number of existing consoles as well as the game's sales. Schachter predicted that the game would sell 10.5 million copies worldwide this year.