Hot Coffee guts GTA publisher's sales; Bully pushed back, Civilization IV moved up, new Xbox 360 game, and "extensions of the Grand Theft Auto franchise" announced.
Take-Two Interactive, the beleaguered parent of developer Rockstar Games, reported earnings for the quarter ending July 31, 2005, today.
The New York City-based company said that sales in the quarter were up 6 percent over the same period a year ago. The company recorded $169.9 million in sales, versus $160.9 million in the third quarter for fiscal year 2004. However, the bottom line showed a loss of $28.8 million for the quarter. That compares to a net loss of $14.4 million for the same quarter a year ago.
The main culprit for the company's red ink was the so-called "Hot Coffee" scandal, which saw Rockstar's best-selling game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas , rerated Adults Only and pulled from stores following the discovery of sex minigames hidden in its code. However, the $28.8 million loss was lower than some early estimates , which said Take-Two could be out as much as $40 million. Company officials confirmed that M-rated versions of the PC and Xbox San Andreas will ship next week, while a scrubbed PS2 version will arrive before the end of the current quarter.
Take-Two's third-quarter tally follows its Q2 take of $222.1 million, a 45 percent jump over the same quarter in 2004. Riding the record-breaking sales of San Andreas last holiday season, the company's first fiscal quarter saw income of $502.5 million and $55.2 million in profit. The company now expects $1.22 to $1.27 billion in net sales and $0.85 to $0.90 in diluted net income per share for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2005.
Today's earnings announcement also contained bad news about another of Take-Two's controversy-courting games. The company revealed that Bully, its PlayStation 2 and Xbox prep-school fighting game, will now miss the all-important holiday season. Once scheduled for a fall 2005 release, it is now scheduled to ship during the second quarter of Take-Two's 2006 fiscal year, which runs from February through April 2006.
However, the news wasn't all bad. The company confirmed that two of its most anticipated games--The Warriors (PS2, Xbox) and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP)--will ship as scheduled during its fourth quarter, which ends October 31, 2005. PC gamers will be pleased to learn that Civilization IV is being moved up several weeks and will also ship before this coming Halloween.
Take-Two's report also offered some tantalizing tidbits of grist for the rumor mill by revealing several previously unknown, currently unidentified games. The third quarter of its 2006 fiscal year will see "a sequel of a Rockstar brand" ship, while the overall year will see "two new titles for the PSP system."
Last but definitely not least, Take-Two's next fiscal year will see "extensions of the Grand Theft Auto franchise" on unidentified platforms, according to its earnings report. But when asked by analysts if this meant a new console GTA was coming next year, chief financial officer Karl Winters demurred, saying only, "We haven't announced that yet ... [we have] no announcement beyond PSP Grand Theft Auto."
[UPDATE] As far as Take-Two's next-gen plans go, the company said it will have five Xbox 360 games ready "at or near launch" this fall. These include NBA 2K6, NHL 2K6, College Hoops 2K6, Top Spin 2, Amped 3, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The company also revealed that "a title based on a new brand for the Xbox 360 is planned for the second quarter" of its 2006 fiscal year.
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