BioShock 2 ships 3 million, GTAIV sells 15M, Take-Two tops targets

Undersea sequel hits milestone as publisher reports lower-than-expected loss for Nov.-Jan.; NBA 2K10 ships 2 million; NHL 2K11 Wii-only; MLB losses to hit $30-35 million.

Max Payne 3

With no fewer than four developers in the mix, skepticism about BioShock 2 was high when it shipped February 9. However, on the diver-boot-clad heels of solid reviews, the game has shipped 3 million copies to date, according to Take-Two Interactive. The number compares favorably to the original BioShock, which has sold (not shipped) 4 million units globally since it went on sale in August 2007. The game will receive a series of downloadable content updates in the coming months.

BioShock 2 will be Take-Two's sugar daddy this quarter.

Take-Two reported BioShock 2's milestone as part of its earnings report for the November-January quarter. (The company's fiscal year ends on October 31.) Though the publisher still had a net loss of $33.8 million ($0.43 per share), the shortfall was lower than the $53.8 million ($0.71 per share) it lost during the same quarter the year prior. It was also far less than the $0.51 per share loss a Thomson Reuters survey of analysts predicted.

The New York-based publisher's $163.2 million in net quarterly revenues were above the $149.4 million it took in during the same quarter a year ago. It credited strong holiday sales of several games for the uptick: Borderlands, which Gearbox recently called a "3-million-unit game"; NBA 2K10, which has shipped 2 million units; minigame comp Carnival Games, which has sold 6 million units; and Grand Theft Auto IV, which has now sold 15 million units life-to-date. Take-Two also called out Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City as a holiday hit but did not provide sales figures.

Take-Two also revealed that it is in the process of reducing its "corporate headcount" by 15 percent as part of "a targeted restructuring of its corporate departments." As a result, it expects to save $8 million in its 2010 fiscal year, and $15 million each year there after. The company did not say how many positions would be eliminated, but the cutbacks appear to be only on the corporate, not developer, level.

Looking ahead, the company has delayed Rockstar Games' long-anticipated open-world game Red Dead Redemption to May 18. Mafia II is also now due in the August-October quarter, alongside L.A. Noire, Max Payne 3, and Sid Meier's Civilization V. In a conference call with analysts, Take-Two president and CEO Ben Feder said that the company's guidance compensates for "one of those games being pushed into the next fiscal year."

The company's release schedule also confirmed NBA 2K11 for unnamed platforms and listed NHL 2K11--but only for the Wii. During the same conference call, executives said that the series was "taking a year off." Last year, the publisher neglected to include any version of NHL 2K11 in its upcoming schedule, saying it was "in the process of evaluating our sports portfolio."

Speaking of Take-Two's guidance, the company now expects net revenue of $250 million to $300 million for the February-April quarter and earnings per share of $0.20 to $0.30. For the full fiscal year, the company expects $725 million to $925 million in revenue and a loss of $0.40 to $0.60 per share, thanks to an annual net loss of $30 million to $35 million ($0.38 to $0.44 per share) from the company's Major League Baseball exclusivity deal.

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