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Grand Theft Auto IV steals sales records

  • Story Highlights
  • Publisher: Sales of the game generated more than half a billion dollars
  • GTA IV's sales surpassed last year's best-selling title from Microsoft, Halo 3
  • On its first day, GTA IV is estimated to have generated $310 million in sales
  • Take-Two hoped game would help negotiating position with Electronic Arts
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By Curt Feldman
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(GameTap.com) -- It's official. Grand Theft Auto IV is a video game blockbuster, with gamers around the world buying up more than 6 million copies of the gritty, urban action title in its first week of sales.

Take-Two estimates GTA IV sold 3.6 million copies and generated $310 million in sales on its first day.

The dual figure of unit sales and revenues makes the launch the biggest ever for video games, and one of the biggest opening weeks in all of entertainment.

Sales of the game generated more than half a billion dollars, the publisher, Take-Two Interactive, said.

"Grand Theft Auto IV's first week performance represents the largest launch in the history of interactive entertainment, and we believe these retail sales levels surpass any movie or music launch to date," said Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick.

Analysts had long expected a solid opening for the game, which hit the stores on April 29, but none ventured sales of this magnitude.

Grand Theft Auto IV's sales surpassed those of last year's best-selling title from Microsoft, Halo 3. That title established a new, single-day sales record of $180 million dollars.

Take-Two estimates that on its first day, GTA IV sold 3.6 million copies and generated $310 million in sales, far surpassing Halo 3's performance. A look at legendary video games »

The sales of GTA IV have additional meaning for the game's publisher Take-Two.

The company was counting on solid sales to strengthen its negotiating position with competitor Electronic Arts. EA and Take-Two have played a game of cat and mouse since the beginning of the year when it was revealed EA hoped to buy Take-Two for $2 billion dollars.

Zelnick has said all along that the offer was ill-timed, and that EA undervalued the company. Zelnick said he would be happy to discuss a sale, but only after the release of GTA IV.

But do the sales mean the deal will accelerate, or grind to a halt?

Industry analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities said the sales tally will have "no impact at all" on the negotiations.

"The first week performance, however spectacular, was 'expected' by EA, and was already factored into their offer," said Pachter. "Electronic Arts will raise their bid by a reasonable amount, I'd say no more than $2 a share," he speculated.

Janco Partner's Mike Hickey is less certain the deal will move forward.

"If EA remains dogmatic with their current $25.74 a share bid, we continue to believe EA's current bid has no chance of being successful," Hickey said after the sales figure was released.

He believes strong sales will likely "shift leverage" to Take-Two, meaning EA will have to ratchet up its offer for the buyout to proceed--or it may have no choice but to walk away from the bargaining table.

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