Pachter: EA buyout could delay GTAIV

Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst says publisher would have "economic incentive" to bump Rockstar's heavily anticipated gangster epic to holiday quarter.

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Since EA first made known its acquisition advances toward Take-Two, Rockstar North's Grand Theft Auto IV has played front and center in the back-and-forth. For EA's part, CEO John Riccitiello has praised the publisher, saying it is of paramount interest in the $2 billion takeover offer. Conversely, Take-Two's board of directors has positioned Rockstar's latest offering as the primary reason shareholders should refuse EA's hostile bid, saying acquisition discussions shouldn't even begin until after GTAIV's April 29 street date, so that, among other reasons, the company's full value can be better assessed.

Up to this point, gamers have by and large been unaffected by the two publishers' financial wrangling. However, as Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter sees it, a successful EA buyout could have dire implications for the imminent launch of GTAIV on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Appearing on Spike TV's Bonus Round (hosted by Geoff Keighley), Pachter said that were EA to acquire Take-Two, the publisher could conceivably bump GTAIV to the holiday quarter to maximize the game's profit potential and quality.

"I think it will be done and will be street ready [by April 29], but I think that if EA takes over Take-Two, they have an economic incentive to delay it," said Pachter. "If [Rockstar Games cofounders Sam and Dan Houser] feel that there's 2 percent more improvement they can make with an extra few months, then why not?"

Pachter also noted that the April 29 ship date is likely being forced upon Rockstar by Take-Two, saying "Take-Two financially has to get that game out. They don't have any wiggle room. They are going to be pretty much tapped out on their credit line and their cash position, so they need the money; they need to get it out. And they've got contractual obligations, I mean, Microsoft's paid up $50 million bucks for this downloadable content."

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