Critics weren't the only ones disappointed by Duke Nukem Forever. In a note to investors today, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter lowered his expectation for Take-Two's quarterly revenues, saying a sluggish performance from the long-awaited first-person shooter more than offset stronger-than-expected sales of Rockstar's latest L.A. Noire.
"We had previously expected Duke to be one of the year's top sellers due to a high degree of hype and a dedicated fan base and expected solid profit contribution as the bulk of development had been previously expensed," Pachter told investors. "However, the game's poor reviews (average Metacritic score of 49) likely had a negative impact on sales, causing us to lower our [first quarter] sell-in estimate to 1.5 million units from 3 million units."
As for L.A. Noire, Pachter had expected the game to ship 3.5 million copes, but last month's Take-Two announcement of roughly 4 million shipped caused him to readjust his numbers. However, the extra half-million copies of L.A. Noire couldn't offset the expected shortfall from Duke, so Pachter revised his revenues estimates for Take-Two's quarter to $350 million, down from $375 million. Take-Two's own guidance to investors was set in the range from $325 million to $375 million.
Despite Duke, the analyst emphasized that Take-Two has "the fewest 'misses' in terms of game quality over the last two years," and expects the publisher's future to be particularly bright. Pachter has penciled in Grand Theft Auto V for the publisher's next fiscal year, with a holiday 2012 release window likely. Last month, a source told GameSpot the fifth entry in the Grand Theft Auto franchise is receiving final touches, with a 2012 release likely.